June 16, 2016

Savage Indians in The Sweepstakes

"Gilligan's Island": The Sweepstakes (TV Episode 1965)
Episode aired 14 October 1965Gilligan wins a million-dollar sweepstakes and is invited to the Howell's country club. After feeling lonely he issues IOUs to the others so they may also attend. He quickly misplaces the wining ticket and they all get evicted.Comment:  In a "Wild West" dream sequence, Prospector Howell and Marshal Gilligan meet sweet, innocent Mary Ann. The following dialogue ensues:GILLIGAN: Keep your hands where I can see 'em.

MARY ANN: Oh, marshal. it's just me.

MARY ANN: Sweet little warm-hearted girl of the golden west me.

GILLIGAN: Why are you crying, Mary Ann?

HOWELL: Will you have a little drink on me?

HOWELL: Would you like a little drink?

MARY ANN: Oh, dare I say it in front of a stranger?

HOWELL: Well, I'm not a stranger.

HOWELL: I'm a friend of your father's.

MARY ANN: Was.

HOWELL: You mean, he passed over?

MARY ANN: Helped by the Apache.

HOWELL: Well, your mother and me, we were kind of friendly.

MARY ANN: Pushed out by the Cherokee.

HOWELL: Your brother, Tom?

MARY ANN: Sioux.

HOWELL: Your sister, Emily?

MARY ANN: Navajo.

HOWELL: Your dear, sweet, innocent little grandmother?

MARY ANN: Shot by the marshal.

GILLIGAN: Well, you can't win 'em all.
The obvious meaning is that Indians are anonymous and interchangeable savages. As if tribes in three widely separated regions took turns surrounding a cabin and picking off settlers one by one.

The dialogue doesn't explicitly say the Indians killed anyone, but it strongly implies it. No one would get the impression that the Indians kindly "helped" the settlers pack up and move to a better location.

It's a typical example of 1960s stereotyping--trying to have it both ways. The writers might have learned enough not to label Indians as bloodthirsty killers and scalpers. But they wanted to use that racist idea, so they cloaked it in veiled language and slipped it in.

June 15, 2016

Savage Indians in The Little Dictator

Another stereotypical episode of Gilligan's Island:

"Gilligan's Island": The Little Dictator (TV Episode 1965)
Episode aired 30 September 1965A Latin American dictator is exiled to the island, and he immediately declares himself dictator of the island, with Gilligan as his puppet leader in training.A video of the episode:

Gilligan's Island The Little Dictator S02E03

You can see Indians at the 21:32 mark.

The setup is that Gilligan is dreaming about being a Latin American dictator. Everyone shows him glimpses of "his" country through a window, including Ginger aka Secret Agent 0036. The scene goes like this:DICTATOR: And I say the country is in great shape.

GINGER: And I say it's in terrible shape. Take a look.

Gilligan looks at her bikini-clad body.

GINGER: Not at me. At the state of the country.

GILLIGAN: Oh.

He looks out as whooping and yelling fill the air. He sees rampaging Indians on horseback, many wearing headdresses, from an old Western movie.

GILLIGAN: That must be the window facing the west.
So Indians = a country in terrible shape. Chaos and destruction. The decline and fall of civilization.

That's stereotypical.

June 14, 2016

Rain dance in Gilligan's Island

Some Native stereotyping from a popular 1960s TV show:

"Gilligan's Island": Water, Water Everywhere (TV Episode 1965)
Episode aired 2 January 1965The castaways desperately try to find a new water source as they have completely exhausted their current water supply.Gilligan’s Island Transcript
Episode #14, “Water, Water Everywhere”EXT. JUNGLE - DAY

Mrs. Howell wears a headband with a feather in it. Her dress looks vaguely native American, but she has accessorized it with a broach and pearls.

MRS HOWELL
I can't understand it, Thurston. All that nonsense about a divining rod to bring water.

MR HOWELL (O.S.)
Yes, I know. Totally unscientific.

MRS HOWELL
Are you ready?

Mr. Howell enters dressed in a Cherokee ceremonial headdress.

MR HOWELL
Yes, any time you are, my dear. One, two, three.

The Howells perform a "rain dance."

HOWELLS
Ha!

Mr. Howell and Mrs. Howell look to the sky.

MR HOWELL
Rain!

Mr. Howell looks at his dry palm and then back up at the sky.

MR HOWELL (cont'd)
You're not listening.

MRS HOWELL
I don't understand it. It worked last year in Yellowstone Park for the Cherokees.


Comment:  I don't remember the line about the Cherokees. The show may have eliminated it during filming.

The fact that it's in the script makes the stereotyping worse. Clearly the writers didn't know the difference between Plains and Cherokee Indians, or anything.

June 08, 2016

Review of Sikumi (On the Ice)

Sikumi (On the Ice) by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean | Short Film

Sikumi (On The Ice)

Sikumi (on the ice)"An Inuit hunter drives his dog team out on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals, but instead, becomes a witness to murder. Winner of the Jury Prize for Short Filmmaking at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival."

Hearing that Sikumi or “On the Ice” had won awards I was very excited to watch this movie. My expectations were really high, what could it be, what could it be. What turned out was a touch disappointing. It’s a nice little movie no doubt, but an award-dinner at Sundance…that can’t be right.
Comment:  I agree with this opinion. I've seen enough Native shorts to say Sikumi is one of the better ones, but the best?

And I believe it won over all films, not just Native films. Best Short Film Shot Under Harsh Conditions, perhaps. But not Best Short Film overall.

For more on Sikumi, see National Distribution for On the Ice and AIFI's 2011 Winners.

June 04, 2016

Review of Grab

Movie Tells Story of Laguna Pueblo’s Grab Day

At Sundance, Tradition Meets Modern World in Billy Luther’s ‘Grab’

SUNDANCE REVIEW: Native Showcase Doc Fails to 'Grab' Audience

Comment:  I don't agree with this review at all. I enjoyed seeing life in the little-known Laguna Pueblo. The ceremony showed us something other than the usual families mired in tragedy or dances in regalia. Shots of a train passing by and animated paper cutouts kept the cinematography fresh.

All in all, I'd say Grab is one of the better Native documentaries I've seen.

May 28, 2016

Persistent stereotype of burial grounds

A posting on the stereotype of Indian burial grounds makes some good points:

'The Darkness,' 'The Shining,' And The Persistent Myth of The "Indian Burial Ground"

Redsploitation Horror has a long tradition in American cinema. Kevin Bacon's new horror flick continues the trend.

By Matt Kim
In truth, these types of stories often frame Native Americans—who rarely appear in horror stories purportedly written about them and their culture—into westernized notions of the supernatural and the afterlife. Ghosts and possessions and the like are more closely associated with European superstitions, while there are simply too many diverse traditions in the indigenous culture to pigeonhole as a unified religion, or set of spiritual practices.And:There is some poetic justice, I imagine, in films which revolve around Native American “curses” destroying the lives of suburban white families. Naive nuclear family units who often overstep their bounds by moving into either a former reservation land, or burial ground, end up incurring the wrath of the vengeful spirits or dormant curse laid down by a people who were themselves laid down by the United States government. There’s an attempt at cultural restitution there, by way of making white American guilt into a literal horror.Comment:  For more on the subject, see Evil Spirits in The Darkness.

May 26, 2016

Review of Cape Horn

Reviews of the graphic novel Cape Horn:

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

By Rich BarrettCape Horn comes from French writer Christian Perrissin and Italian artist Enea Riboldi, who bathes it in authenticity with beautiful, realistic artwork. His landscapes are lushly illustrated and the characters are distinct and real, giving this the feel of a Hugo Pratt or Milo Manara adventure comic. However, American comic readers should be warned that it's less a rollicking adventure and more of a pensive period drama. There is a very deliberate pace to the story but when big things happen it makes them all the more surprising.The Best Comics of 2014

By Seth T. HahneCape Horn is kind of like Manara's "Indian Summer" minus the probably misogynistic treatment of women by the artist and the rampantly cliched vision of preachers and Native Americans and their activities and predilections. The art is as luscious as Manara's, but it's got story and sense to propel it. There's nothing in Cape Horn to push the astute mature reader to reevaluate history or our place in it (the story functions mostly as grand adventure), but it's so well done that one almost can't help but marvel in admiration. A wholly lovely endeavor.The Native aspects

Review Time! With Cape Horn

By Greg BurgasCape Horn, like so much of fiction, is about power. When you introduce a colonial element to it, it becomes more about cultural power, as the frontier of Tierra del Fuego, like the frontier of the West in the United States and Canada or any frontier, really, is about the clash between “civilization” and “barbarism.” Just because Perrissin sets this in a place unfamiliar to most people doesn’t change the paradigm too much.

The natives in the area, mainly the Yamana, have a choice to make–accommodate the Europeans and try to learn their ways, or resist as fiercely as possible and get killed or die out.
And:Ultimately, Perrissin comes down on the same side as most liberal writers–that the natives would have been better off without the “benefits” of “civilization”–but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t try to show the kindness of people like Bridges, who really do believe they’re working to make the natives’ lives better.

Perrissin offers a macrocosmic version of the “civilizers” versus “savages” idiom, as well, and it puts Cape Horn on a more interesting level than just an adventure story. Without commenting on it too obviously, Perrissin shows the way frontiersmen become marginalized in their turn.
Some background on the Natives of Tierra del Fuego:

Fuegians

Yaghan People

Tierra del Fuego Culture

Rob's review

It's surprising to learn that a "first contact" situation with Indians happened in the late 1800s. I'm used to first contacts happening in the 1600s and 1700s, with tribal independence eliminated by the late 1800s.

But here we have a sad drama unfolding a couple of centuries after it unfolded elsewhere. I guess that's how long it took to settle Tierra del Fuego.

Anyway, Cape Horn followed too many characters to be an unqualified success. Other than that, I agree with the above reviews. It's well worth checking out.