Just when you thought Adam Sandler movies couldn’t get any more offensive (assuming you find aggressive unfunniness as offensive as I do), he goes and ups his game. About a dozen Native American actors walked off the set of Sandler’s new Netflix original movie The Ridiculous Six yesterday, after things started to “get weird.”
To start with, here’s a picture of Sandler in costume:
Oh come on, Sandler. Don’t we go through this every Halloween? I don’t know what his character is, if he’s actually supposed to be Native American (PLEASE NO) or just dressing like one (ALSO BAD), but it doesn’t matter. Throwing on some fringe and feathers is not a catch-all for “Indian.” As Loren Anthony, one of the actors who walked out, said,
We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche.What do we think the odds are that at least half the cast is outfitted by a Party City?
According to another actress, Goldie Tom,
Our costumes did not portray Apache people. The consultant, Bruce spoke to the crew and told them we should not have braids and chokers and he was very disappointed. He asked to speak with Adam Sandler. We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said ‘It’s in the script and we are not going to change it.’ Overall, we were just treated disrespectfully, the spoke down to us and treated everyone with strong tones.
Loren Anthony says he was initially skeptical of the movie, but agreed to work on it when he was told the film had hired a “cultural consultant.”
I was asked a long time ago to do some work on this and I wasn’t down for it. Then they told me it was going to be a comedy, but it would not be racist. So I agreed to it but on Monday things started getting weird on the set.
So what else was offensive to these actors besides the costumes? Well, everything.
One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s breath. One character says ‘Hey, Beaver’s Breath.’ And the Native woman says, ‘How did you know my name?Oh wow, it’s a lesbian joke and a Native American joke IN ONE. COMEDY GOLD! Another character’s name is “No Bra,” plus there’s at least one scene of an actress playing an Apache woman smoking a peace pipe with squatting and peeing on the ground, and some “inappropriately positioned” feathers on a teepee. And while I’m not sure what that last thing is alluding to (should I? Is my inner 12-year-old failing me??), I’m gonna give the benefit of the doubt to it being terrible.
What makes all of this even worse was that, from the sound of it, whenever these concerns were brought up by the actors, they were talked down to and brushed off as not getting the joke. As if the word “comedy” is an umbrella that can keep you clean of all your own shit. Anthony says,
They just treated us as if we should just be on the side. When we did speak with the main director, he was trying to say the disrespect was not intentional and this was a comedy.Another Navajo actress, Allison Young, who also walked off set, recounted her experience,
When I began doing this film, I had an uneasy feeling inside of me and I felt so conflicted,” she said. “I talked to a former instructor at Dartmouth and he told me to take this as finally experiencing stereotyping first hand. We talked to the producers about our concerns. They just told us, ‘If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.’ I was just standing there and got emotional and teary-eyed. I didn’t want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way.Oh, and Netflix, for their part, has decided to stand by the movie in agreement that these Native American actors just don’t get comedy.
Nothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians.
“The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous,” said a spokesperson for the streaming service 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.”Um, Netflix?. Not to pick at semantics, but when your “diverse cast” says they feel like you’re all being a bunch of assholes, that doesn’t count as being in on the joke. Also, a big ol FUCK YOU for assuming the reason people are offended is because they didn’t realize what the word “ridiculous” means. Way to be patronizing AND ineffectual.
Via Indian Country.