Heigh, Ho, Racism! Away!

6 Jul

Everyone’s buzzing about Paula Deen. An overweight white woman who made millions showing the rest of us how to get overweight, all the while giggling like a ninny, has got the entire country outraged over her racist ways. She’s lost her TV shows, her book deals and her sponsors. She’s apologized three or four times—I’ve lost count now—and we’re all still talking about what a racist cow she is.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a white man takes a job away from a Native American and nobody says a damn thing.

Johnny Depp owes Paula Deen a big fat thank you, preferably sandwiched between two Krispy Kremes.

See, Johnny has cast himself as Tonto in The Lone Ranger, Disney’s latest cinematic release. Yeah, yeah, Disney did the casting, but Johnny Depp is Johnny Depp and he’s a big enough star that he gets to do whatever the hell he wants. He wants to play Tonto? He gets to play Tonto.

And Johnny’s Tonto is as far from the Tonto I grew up with as a Tonto could be. My Tonto was played by a man named Jay Silverheels. Jay’s dad was a Canadian Mohawk tribal chief. Johnny claims that his great grandparents said some relative on down the family line had Native American blood. My family had a similar kind of story about Grandpa Mike. Johnny’s not really sure what tribe, but you know, Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek? What’s the diff?

The diff is a big one if you’re hoping to be accepted in many tribes. Many have rules regarding how much tribal blood you need to be recognized by, well, your tribe. The Mississippi band of Choctaw would turn their backs on Johnny. They have a 50 percent rule.

Johnny’s lucky, though. Not only is his great-grandma’s cousin’s nephew’s sister-in-law Native American, but Disney got Johnny around all that nasty blood business. He was adopted by a Comanche activist and accepted into the Cherokee Nation. That, and a big fat Disney donation to the American Indian College Fund, makes Johnny a Native American!

Whether or not Depp’s got enough tribal blood to fill a thimble, though, isn’t my biggest problem with him playing the loyal friend of the LR.

My biggest problem with Johnny is that he’s making shit up about Native Americans and throwing it all up on the screen to see what sticks.

I’ve been to the North Woods in Wisconsin a few times. The place we stayed is a beautiful resort on a wide lake in the middle of the forest. Bald eagles nest there; people fish there; snakes swim in the water there; I don’t swim in the water there. And Native Americans call the place home. The resort sits in the middle of an Ojibwe Reservation.

First stop after getting to the lake cottage would be a visit to the local grocery store, where we would see real-live Native Americans. Not one of them walked around in full ceremonial paint with a dead bird for a hat. They all had shirts on, too, it being not the beach and all. But Johnny Depp plays Tonto in full whiteface, no shirt on his back and a big black bird on his head. Sort of a reverse Al Jolson, if you will.

Here’s the kicker, though. Depp believes that he is doing Native American children a favor by reminding them of their noble warrior heritage. Never mind that the head-scalping warrior is the first thing that comes to mind when many non-native Americans think about their native neighbors. Never mind that Native American children have Native American doctors and lawyers to look up to today. Never mind that any number of Native American actors could have played a more authentic and, to my mind at least, hotter Tonto.

 

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Johnny Depp’s arrogance knows no bounds, though. The man who has less Native American blood in him than a wooden dime-store Indian, grinds Native Americans into the Hollywood soil with a twist of his mocassin’d foot. The only thing Depp reminds Native American children is they still aren’t good enough to play their own people in the movies.

So, call Paula Deen racist. She did, afterall, use the N-word and fantasize about a plantation-style wedding replete with all Black waiters. And for her racism, she lost work. Unfortunately, Johnny Depp’s racism doesn’t cost him work; it costs the very people he claims to revere.

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30 Responses to “Heigh, Ho, Racism! Away!”

  1. Nikki July 6, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    BULLSHIT -says this native kid.

    Oh but here’s a little story:
    Once upon a time your rants used to be funny. Not anymore.

    The End.

    • jmlindy422 July 6, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. Looks like we don’t agree.

    • The Waiting July 7, 2013 at 9:45 am #

      Care to leave a link to your blog so we can all critique your writing as well, Nikki?

      • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 10:11 am #

        In all seriousness, I would like to read Nikki’s take on what I got wrong . It isn’t clear, to me at least, what she has a problem with. I am genuinely interested to read other perspectives on the issues I’ve expressed opinions on.

      • The Waiting July 7, 2013 at 10:21 am #

        Unfortunately, I have a feeling that people like Nikki are more concerned with criticizing others than expressing their own original views on the subject.

      • Le Clown July 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

        Emily,
        I like you.
        Le Clown

    • The Hook July 9, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      Nikki,
      Get a grip and relax, will you? A free society celebrates varying opinions, it doesn’t crucify those who are brave enough to share them.
      The Hook.

  2. Luanne July 6, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    I thought this was a really thoughtful interesting read, so I tweeted it . . . .

    • jmlindy422 July 6, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

      Thanks! Nikki didn’t much care for it and I wish she’d been more specific. I will admit I was not trying for funny. So, again, thanks.

    • Grace @ Cultural Life July 7, 2013 at 3:47 am #

      Yes, me too. It’s a very thought-provoking piece and I fully agree with Janice.

      • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

        This is what I want in the world; everyone must agree with Janice. Then there will be peace on Earth.

      • Grace @ Cultural Life July 8, 2013 at 2:54 am #

        😀

  3. Le Clown July 7, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Janice,
    I think this is a complete misstep by Johnny Depp, and by Hollywood (yet again). What they are doing yet again is promoting stereotypes and degrading first nations. If they wanted to attract an audience with star power, they could have perhaps cast someone famous in the role of The Lone Ranger (who the fuck is Armie Hammer anyway), and give the role of Tonto to first native actor, and make Tonto something else than a sad caricature. I hate to link something on your post, so please feel free to delete it, but here’s a great article on it, one that i also stand 100% behind:
    http://nativeappropriations.com/2013/07/repost-why-tonto-matters.html
    Le Clown

    • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 10:07 am #

      Thanks so much for the link! I just spent entirely too much time reading through Native Appropriations’ blog and loving every minute of it. Gotta switch to the laptop so I can log in to Facebook ’cause I can’t remember shit so rely on the “remember me” function entirely too much.

    • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 10:09 am #

      I think Disney didn’t have enough money left to pay for a name actor for the LR.

  4. philosophermouseofthehedge July 7, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    Thanks for this post. Hit the target.
    Ditto to Le Clown’s comments.
    Is it possible that Nikki was directing her irritation at the movie and Depp? He used to be amusing, but with all this recent arrogance – delusional and sad.
    Oh FYI, Johnny, tons of people west of the Mississippi have some Native American blood – millions of us.
    As far as the film that’s not doing well? Kids want entertainment – not lectures on social issues. Think of that next summer, OK, Disney?

    • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

      Hm….irritation at the movie and Depp? Interesting, but I’m pretty sure Nikki thinks it’s me that is full of shit.

      There are tons of people east of the Mississippi who have some Native American blood, too. Tons and tons and tons of people in the United States have some native blood in them. Remember my Grandpa Mike? Hey! I could play Tonto!

      • philosophermouseofthehedge July 7, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

        we’re all special…does that mean we get crow hats, too?

      • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

        Next time I find a dead crow on my deck, I’m sending it to you. You can deal with the West Nile virus it carries.

  5. kelloggs77 July 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    Well, Depp somehow picked up a fake British accent somewhere along the way (that’s the real BS if you ask me), so I don’t know why we would be surprised he’s also suddenly Native American. And on a completely superficial level, I agree that all of the men in your beefy slideshow would make a much hotter Tonto…and none of them are wearing the same scarf as me, and Depp is wont to do.

    • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

      THANK you for noticing the beefcake. I had so much fun finding hot native guys. Benjamin Bratt is also a hottie and Native American, but he’s a little old to play Tonto as a young man and he’s got the Modern Family gig anyway.

      Madonna found a British accent, too. Maybe they were having a sale on them. BTW, I can’t stand it when they get Americans to play Brits and Brits to play Americans. I’m a crank. I would never wear the same scarf as you; I don’t wear scarves.

      • kelloggs77 July 7, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

        Oh, you can always count on me to notice the beefcake. I’m good like that. And hells to the yes on Benjamin Bratt. I’d even overlook that he’s technically too old…BECAUSE SO IS JOHNNY DEPP!!! Besides, I have thing for older guys. My ultimate crush is Micky Dolenz of the Monkees after all. Dude, he’s 68.

        You know, I think Depp and Madonna DID pick up their accents around the same time, so you might be spot on with that sale idea….probably at Pretentious “R” Us.

      • kelloggs77 July 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

        OH…AND Micky Dolenz has a Native American background as well. I just thought of that. And he doesn’t have a fake British accent. And he doesn’t wear scarves. And he’s not pretentious. And he’s too busy singing to put anybody down. Okay…I’ll stop now. Sorry.

      • jmlindy422 July 7, 2013 at 10:41 pm #

        You are welcome to blather about hot men all you want her in Snideville. Maybe I should do a whole post about hot Native American men. Would that be sexist? Would I then get into trouble with the feminists? Or the men-ists? What do you call people who agitate for the rights of men?

        Maybe I’ll do a post about the white guys who’ve played Native Americans and choose alternative Native American actors for the part. Let’s start with Jacob Black, played by that great German American actor, Taylor Lautner.

  6. The Hook July 9, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Personally, I loved this post and I think your observations were spot-on.

  7. JenniferS July 31, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    well, I thought your post was great, it turned me around. I happen to love johny depp (have for decades, don’t ask how old I am thank you very much 😉 ) and was waiting keenly to see the movie. BUT now I don’t think so. your points were most salient, it all made a heap of sense to me. (not a USA person but we have very similar issues in our country regarding the nations treatment & representation of our indigenous peoples.) oh, & i second that benjamin bratt is sooooo hot & not at all too old to play the part.

    • jmlindy422 July 31, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

      Thanks! I, too, have great fondness for Johnny Depp. I think he’s pretty hot, but he really stepped into it this time. And, yeah, Benjamin Bratt. Sigh. Swoon.

  8. SingingTuna August 2, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Hi!

    Thank you for posting this. It had to be said out loud. Well, out loud as a blog post can be. I’m weary of muttering it under my breath each time I see an ad for that movie. I couldn’t finish watching Le Johnny’s version of Jonathan Frid (one of a kind!) in “Dark Shadows” and am guessing that “The Lone Ranger” will meet the same fate in this house.

    :/

    • jmlindy422 August 2, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

      I loved Dark Shadows and was pretty excited when I heard they were making a movie. I only had to see the trailer to know to stay away. Thanks for swimming by, Tuna

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