Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Apacheeeeeeeeeeeeeeez what a grouch!

I'd like to take this time to give my thoughts on the whole debacle with Adam Sandler's latest movie The Ridiculous 6 where, if you haven't heard by now, a few actors of Apache decent walked off the set in disgust by what they saw.  What got them most offended were the spoofy Indian names Beaver's Breath and Wears No Bra as well as how the set designers seemed to have got most of the Native symbols either misplaced or just plain wrong.

I'm not going to say anything disparaging about the actors who walked off.  They had every right to leave if they didn't feel comfortable with anything on the set.  Hell, they had every right to leave if Kraft Services got their frappaccino order wrong.  I will say though that their actions could have been an over-reaction, but not nearly as big as the over-reaction on social media decrying this movie as "horribly racist" or even "hate speech".  I've even seen people who are calling for a full boycott of this movie, all Happy Madison projects, and possibly building a time machine and travelling back to January 1, 1966 to stop Stanley and Judy Sandler from conceiving of a subversive yet juvenile offspring.  Many of these people are forgetting some rather important things.

Keep in mind that the object of the offence as of now are just isolated jokes.  Context is everything.  You've got to see how these jokes play within the entire screenplay before you can even begin to examine whether they are an insult or not.  For example, if you tuned in to Schindler's List on some movie channel right at the part where that girl is yelling "GOODBYE JEWS!!!!!" over and over it would be easy to say "oh my, what a mean-spirited anti-semetic movie".  But, if you actually took the time to watch the entire movie you would see that "oh, it's actually sympathetic to the plight Jews had during the holocaust and shows a bright uplifting event within a very dark period in history".  I'm quite certain that this 'direct to Netflix' comedy is not anywhere near the same category as Steven Spielberg's masterpiece, but it still does deserve the same consideration of being judged on it's whole rather than just a few less than ideal parts.

Something else you need to remember is that this whole movie is a spoof of an old Western, namely The Magnificent Seven.  Like any spoof comedy, it's a good idea to check out the very thing they are spoofing.  That would help people better understand the jokes being delivered, especially the offending jokes about the Indians.  Maybe they're a send up on what Sandler and his writers felt were racist portrayals of minorities in the original movie.  Here's the trailer to give you somewhat of an idea:

I can see lots of people applauding the actions of these actors walking out the way they did.  I for one would like to applaud Adam Sandler and his crew for NOT changing the script when faced with this situation.  Let the creators create I say.  No special interest group should be allowed to infiltrate and commandeer the creative process whether through guilt, intimidation, or even straight up violence.  Let the production be fully realized.  If you don't like it you don't have to watch it.  To force this movie to cease production now over this would be like punching a fetus because you swear you saw it flip you the middle finger in the ultrasound.

Like what's been said about Sandler's humour elsewhere, he definitely works on a very low brow level.  The comedy in pretty much everything he's done (from SNL to today) seems to be grown from a group of 10 year old boys in their treehouse fort giggling over a stolen Penthouse magazine.  Of course he's going to enjoy names like Beaver Breath and Wears No Bra or any other cheeky sort of name they can conjure up.  And it's not like this is the first time he's upset people with his content.  Remember that SNL skit from around 1994 with Alec Baldwin where the aggressively flirtatious scout master nearly molested and possibly could have raped Canteen Boy?  SNL and NBC received many angry letters and phone calls about that one.  If both he and Alec Baldwin can survive that incident and keep going, then Mr. Sandler will most certainly get through this heated situation without a problem.

One thing I will say on the disgruntled actors' behalf is that the set designers getting the Apache symbols wrong could be problematic.  Just because it's a comedy doesn't mean that they don't have to take the time to get any of the details right.  I'd even go so far as to say the wacky Indian names like Beaver's Breath etc. would be more acceptable if the Apache environment were as authentic as possible.  That could be the key element to fix that would make people, possibly even those same disillusioned actors, to feel better about this movie.  But, the mistakes in the decor could also be a part of the whole "making fun of the original racism" that I talked about before.  Once again, it's best to see the entire movie before making a final judgement call.

But at the same time, I'm not in the biggest hurry to see this movie myself.  From what I've gathered from Adam Sandler's filmography, if you've seen one of his films you've seen them all.  I'm personally of the opinion that whenever Sandler comes out with a new movie you're better off just watching Billy Madison again.  It'll be pretty much the same thing only cobbled together a bit better.  Like it or not, Billy Madison is Adam Sandler's equivalent of Citizen Kane (except in this case "Rosebud" is a flaming bag of dog shit).

I'd like to end this post with another comedy film about American Indians starring Buster Keaton that is actually quite progressive for 1921.  I'm not 100% sure of this but I do think it might be the first movie where the Indians are portrayed as victims of caucasian colonial treachery as opposed to the Indians in all of those cheap John Wayne westerns where the they are just one dimensional war-like savages who keep getting in the way as a ragtag group of clean cut cowboys try to create America.

Ladies and gentlemen of all tribes, I give you The Paleface: