Where Native America meets pop culture
Writerfella here -- Given that Rob always seems so busy, I will repeat the text of an e-mail sent to him early this morning so that others do not have to wait until he posts it. Rob -- Herewith the text of an article in the Sept. 19 issue of my hometown newspaper, THE ANADARKO DAILY NEWS.'MEL GIBSON TO PREVIEW NEW MOVIE TO AMERICAN INDIANS IN OKLAHOMA" Actor and director Mel Gibson plans to preview his new movie before select American Indian audiences in Oklahoma, according to an Oklahoma City publicist arranging Gibson's visit to the state. Last-minute problems with the film "Apocalypto" caused Gibson to cancel three screenings this week -- two at the Riverwind Casino near Norman and one at Cameron University in Lawton, said publicist Jhane Myers. "He's definitely coming. It's just a matter of when," Myers said. Gibson co-wrote and directed "Apocalypto," which is scheduled for release Dec. 8, according to the film's website. An action-adventure film set in the final days of the Mayan civilization in Mexico, "Apocalypto" stars Rudy Youngblood, a Comanche-Cree-Yaqui Indian who lived near Ada before moving to Los Angeles last year. Four months later, Gibson cast Youngblood in the movie's lead role. "This is the first time a Native American has had a starring role in a feature film," Myers said. "Rudy is kind of breaking ground here," she added. The screenings will be by invitation only to audiences of no more than 60 people, Myers said. Gibson "wanted to keep it small because he doesn't want everyone knowing about the film in case he has to change something," Myers said. Gibson will speak briefly before each preview, introduce Youngblood, and then show the film, Myers said. Myers will accompany Gibson during his Oklahoma visit and then they will travel on to Santa Fe, NM, and Austin, Texas. "I will be driving him into Oklahoma," she said.____________________________ So, Rob, this is the first I have heard of that, and I guess I am not one of those who will be able to see the film as it is by invitation only and the only things gracing my mailbox this week have been bills.All BestRuss Bates'writerfella'
Thanks, Russ. I saw this article on PECHANGA.net. I wasn't going to post it here because I don't like to publicize too many prospective events. The real news is the outcome of the screening: how Native people react to the movie.
Writerfella here -- Don't know if that will be forthcoming, as it appears as you say simply to be a publicity-generating event. Certainly if the reactions are more negative than positive, we may never hear the outcome. But on the outside of it, the matter is genuine news as an unusual procedure. Test audiences usually are not so specific except as to age and location (demographics).All BestRuss Bates'writerfella'
Even if it's genuine news, I don't want to cover every step of Gibson's rollout of Apocalypto and help him generate publicity. As far as I'm concerned, the real news begins when the movie premieres.
Writerfella here -- You may be disappointed. It won't crash and burn like the Hindenberg, or sink in two hours like the Titanic. It will do its business and dwindle away a la SNAKES ON A PLANE, 'a box-office underperformer.' Like all such movies, it then will make its money back internationally and then make more money both nationally and internationally on DVD. Whether Mel Gibson had become anathema to few or many in the interim, the film's performance still would have been the same.All BestRuss Bates'writerfella'
Insiders are saying Apocalypto may be in trouble. Why? Since the subject material is obscure, Disney was going to promote Mel Gibson's role as its creator. Oops. Now what?I don't necessarily wish ill fortune for inferior Native movies. Even a bad Native movie generates publicity for Native cultures and causes. And a bad movie can be instructive. It can teach us creative types what not to do.
Writerfella here -- Mel Gibson has come and gone. Thursday, he and Rudy Youngblood attended special ceremonies at the Comanche Complex in Lawton, where Rudy was honored by his fellow Comanches. Among the items presented to him by his people was a commemorative bracelet crafted by my nephew, Adam Caesar, who is a silversmith. Then Gibson presented members of the Comanche Council with Australian-grown tobacco and in turn was presented with gifts from the Comanche. Then the group went to lunch at Cain's Restaurant and then off to Cameron University for a showing of APOCALYPTO for tribal members and a dozen or so Cameron film students. After Gibson and party departed for Oklahoma City for Friday and Saturday showings, the Comanches who saw the film said it is almost non-stop action and was heavily aimed at showing Mayan cultural elements.All BestRuss Bates'writerfella'
A correspondent's comments:I have a sinking feeling that you're closer to being on target with your Mel predictions than we can even imagine right now. On the other hand, a little bad publicity might be worth it, IF the wannabe crowd & new-agers would decide that they don't want to be Indian anymore, and crawl back into the holes they crawled out of. After "Dances with Kevin" was released (circa 1989), it's been reminiscent of the 60's & early 70's when all the hippies decided to "play Indian". Away from Oklahoma, people still treat us like we're mystical people. We're not computer programmers and machinists and nurses and highway patrolmen, we're mystical noble savages. That's sometimes worse than being treated like scum of the earth by the remaining racists around Oklahoma. My "dad" (Otoe-Pawnee) instructed me to tell people that I'm Otoe when we were out in public at dance performances. He knew I was sick to death of people in the crowd saying "My great-great-grandmother was a Cherokee Princess!" He used to say "Don't tell them you're Cherokee, just tell them you're MY daughter. You COULD be my daughter! I was quite a tomcat when I was young!" LOL
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