According to Indian Country Today Media Network, approximately a dozen Native American actors walked off the set of The Ridiculous Six, Adam Sandler's latest production, after "the satirical western’s script repeatedly insulted native women and elders and grossly misrepresented Apache culture."
The examples of disrespect included Native women’s names such as Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, an actress portraying an Apache woman squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe, and feathers inappropriately positioned on a teepee.
This is the first of Sandler's four-movie deal with Netflix that was announced last October. He's no stranger to controversy; his 2007 film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was the subject of a lawsuit and general disdain about the plot, which had two straight firefighters pretending to be gay in order to scam a life insurance company, and Don't Mess With the Zohan landed on a 2012 list of the most racist films of all time.
Actor Loren Anthony (pictured above on the right ) was among the first to walk off the set. Anthony only agreed to do the movie when he was promised it wouldn't be racist, he told Indian Country Today:
“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,” he said.
Anthony was insulted by the costumes, which inaccurately portrayed Apache garb, and the offensive names given to women in the tribe.
"We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche," he said. "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?'"
Dartmouth film student and actor Allison Young also left the set. She tried to address her concerns with producers, and was told "If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave."
David Hill, 74-year old Choctaw and member of the American Indian Movement left the set as well, saying "They were being disrespectful." And: "They were bringing up those same old arguments that Dan Snyder uses in defending the Redskins. But let me tell you, our dignity is not for sale."
Netflix just released a statement to Deadline Hollywood, and it's disappointing to say the least:
“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.”
Danielle Henderson is a lapsed academic, heavy metal karaoke machine, and culture editor at Fusion. She enjoys thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality shape our cultural narratives, but not in a boring way.