About a dozen Indian actors walked off the set of the Ridiculous Six the latest Adam Sandler movie claiming the script is insulting to Native culture and features unnecessary and degrading stereotypes.
Indian Country Today Media Network reported that the actors, primarily of the Navajo Nation, objected to insulting names for some of the characters such as “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra”, along with depictions of an Apache woman urinating while smoking a peace pipe and other sundry examples of general insensitivity.
An unnamed spokesperson for Netflix, which is producing the comedy told Deadline that such depictions are in alignment with the tone of the film, which plays upon absurdity in order to spoof tropes seen in American Westerns.
“The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous,” the spokesperson told Deadline on Thursday. “It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke.”
However, the actors said that despite the film’s comedic intentions, the script is still overly reliant on Indian stereotypes and degrades Native culture.
“We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche,” Loren Anthony, a member of the Navajo Nation, told ICTMN.
The Lakota People’s Law Project believes this offensive production should be shut down immediately. Satire is an effective tool in any society, to show irreverence for official institutions that deserve to be lampooned as a means of questioning the high esteem that general society holds a given institution or person.
However, satire is not and should not be used to degrade a culture and way of life that has already been marginalized through centuries of abuse, neglect and genocidal tendencies.
American cultural elites such as Adam Sandler should use their considerable celebrity to further the conversation about how Indian people are treated in the United States.
They should not attempt to further enrich themselves while simultaneously degrading a culture and a people for which they apparently have little understanding or empathy.
How do these crude depictions of Indians help move forward the conversation about the stain on the American soul that continues to persist to the present day?
To make light of this ugly aspect of American life is reprehensible.
Furthermore, stereotypical depictions of Natives, including the use of them as mascots, is disrespectful to the Indigenous population of this nation. We must as a people learn to treat the Indian nation with the dignity they deserve.
If people or institutions are behaving in a sanctimonious or self-important manner, than satire is a valuable tool to bring a modicum of self-awareness to those entities.
But making fun of the marginalized, the trodden-upon, the degraded and the victims of widespread systemic injustice isn’t funny. It’s sad.
Lakota People’s Law Project calls upon Netflix to either ensure their production encompasses an appropriate degree of cultural sensitivity or end production immediately.