November 14, 2006

Picking on Pirates

Finally saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It was about as the critics said: rambling and overlong but a lot of fun.

In the Native sequence, I didn't notice any stereotypes that the press hadn't reported. What I did notice was the length. The shouting, spear-wielding savages were on screen for almost half an hour, which is a lot of stereotyping.

Since Pirates is the no. 1 movie of the year--almost twice the box office of runner-up Cars--that means many kids saw more of the Caribbean cannibals than any other Indians. The lesson they learned, again, is that Indians are primitive, barbaric, animal-like creatures.

13 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Thank heavens the rest of the movie mostly was about gentlemanly and genteel, suave and sophisticated, civilized and well-mannered Vegan freebooters, or kids might have gotten the idea that their people in that day and age were like the Natives...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Actually, Disney's pirates were civilized and well-mannered compared to real pirates. And everyone was civilized and well-mannered compared to the savage cannibal Indians.

Not a Sioux said...

Jack Sparrow was rather harmless, but Captain Squidward on the "Flying Dutchman" was definitely in keeping with the old-stype "no quarter" type of real buccaneer. Referring of course to his willingness to kill a lot. Not referring to his predilection for playing a pipe organ while in stormy seas.

Rob said...

I don't exactly count Davy Jones's crew as pirates because they were half-dead fish people. The living pirates--i.e., Sparrow's crew--weren't too cruel or bloodthirsty.

Would anyone like to argue that people learn about pirates from their parents and community rather than the media? That would be an even sillier argument than saying people learn about Indians from their parents and community.

Not a Sioux said...

I'll leave the googling for a website devoted to shattering and abolishing of pirate stereotypes to another.

Unfortunately, when I was raised, I learned about mainly about pirates AND Natives from the media stereotypes. They were presented as pretty much the same type of thing: unusual looking, exotic types with their own readily-identifiable specific stereotypical characteristics.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Again with the irony deficiency anemia. Where is Dr. B. F. Skinner when you need him? Riddle me these, Caped Crusader:
1. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and its subsequent sequels are Disney fantasies based on a longtime ride in the original Disneyland theme park. The levels of reality in the films, therefore, are derivative from the original source and only are entertainments, period. Imbuing them with meanings and attributes beyond that scope is comparable to granting them important insights into 'the human condition.'
2. Racial bias and cultural stereotypes have been communicated by families, schools, churches, communities, and cultures long before there were any media of any kind that could stand accused of such communications. But no, Gutenberg and Benjamin Franklin and Tesla and Edison and Dr. DuPont get all the blame. When American society completes the building of its 'Cages of Steel', no doubt Isaac Asimov will get his share of the blame as well.
3. Maybe it's time drugrunners and carjackers got a spokesman or a group to force Pittsburgh to drop that stereotypical and degrading 'Pirates' name from its baseball team...
AllBest
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

I take it you can't give us an example of people learning about pirates from their parents any more than you can give us an example of people learning about Indians from their parents. So noted.

It doesn't matter if a stereotype is derived from a primary source or secondary source. Most children haven't been to Disneyland and know nothing about the amusement park ride or the actual history of pirates. What they know is what they experience personally, which is what they see on the screen. To them, that is the reality of the situation.

The Bible, the Greek plays and myths, the legends of Gilgamesh and Beowulf, the stories of knights and wizards...these are all sources of beliefs and stereotypes that existed long before Europeans stumbled into the Americas. You're mistaken if you think "media" was invented with the printing press, radio, or television. Nevertheless, Gutenberg began the modern media era with the the first printing press in 1440. So whatever you think of the older forms of media, Europeans were transmitting knowledge through books and pamphlets half a century before they "discovered" America.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Well stated, but that's not what writerfella related at all. Show that the media you mentioned contained stereotypes about Natives as you so indicated before Europeans 'discovered' America, and writerfella will concede the point. Otherwise, it's simply a matter of muddying the water you expect everyone else to drink without question. Very clever, these Chinese...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

The European media didn't start promoting Native stereotypes until the Europeans first encountered Natives, obviously. Nor did European families, schools, churches, or communities.

The stereotyping started soon after the first encounter, obviously. If you want a specific launch point, it began with Columbus's journals of his voyages and the dissemination of same.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
This foofarah has gone on as long as writerfella has seen fit. And now he will tell a secret: there is a way to plumb the depths of anyone else's beliefs or philosophies or ideas or intentions or education and commitments to same.
In writerfella's 1972 sci-fi story, "Whatchamacallit", earth humans have colonized a habitable planet orbiting proxima Centauri. It is a fairly stable environment, close to earthlike, only with vine forests instead of trees and with mostly small animal species save one: huge flying reptilian things that prey on the smaller fauna. The colonists explore the planet, begin farming operations, and learn how to keep the flying beasts away from their settlements. Five years into their stay, a man named Halloran abruptly discovers a life form no one ever had encountered before: a four-legged beastie maybe ten inches long that looks like it is made of black rubber. Spindly toothpick legs, feet like half-spherical hooves, a jellybean shaped body, coarse brushy tail, a globelike head with nubby ears, eyes that float behind clear panes, and a mouth like a jack-o'-lantern. It is a vegetarian, nuzzles you like a kitten, smells like popcorn, and makes a noise like a summer cicada. The most the scientists can learn from it is that it is silicon-based and that there are no others like it. Beyond that, they lose interest. And so Halloran and his family inherit the beast, as it was he who discovered it. Only the beast, which they call Galumphus after George Pal's Puppetoon horse, loves to eat, and eat, and eat, and eat. And it grows and grows and grows, until it is the size of a horse that eats enough food every day to feed four or five families. It becomes an embarrassment to the Halloran family, who are sharing their rations a bit unwillingly with their pet. Finally, Galumphus begins to raid farm fields and then injures a colony councilman's wife by jumping on her in his usual friendly but overenthusiastic style. Immmediately, the council votes to have Galumphus euthanized but Halloran and others of the colonists offer an alternate plan: using donated fuel, Halloran will pilot his aeroflitter to the far side of the planet and maroon Galumphus there. And Halloran does so, landing in a vineforest exactly halfway around their world. He gets out and seems to be exploring, with Galumphus nosing around the area in curiosity. Halloran boards his flitter, flies upward from the clearing, and heads back the way he came. But Galumphus races through the vineforest after him clicking and mewing, slowly falling behind until he no longer can be seen. Halloran sighs, turns his complete attention to his flitter, and immediately is struck in midair by one of the flying reptiloids. The predator and the ship crashland in the forest, and Halloran is thrown free. The reptile-thing pounces on him, beating him with its wings, tearing at him with claws, and trying to stab him with its pointed beak. Halloran is losing the fight and cannot get to his weapons aboard the flitter. From out of the forest rushes an angry Galumphus, who then knocks the beast away and begins to battle it himself. Halloran crawls to the flitter's wreckage, hunting desperately for a gun. He finds it, turns back, and the reptile is tearing Galumphus to pieces. He fires and blasts the reptile in half. He reaches Galumphus, tattered and unmoving in its own clear body fluids. Halloran weeps, knowing how much of mistake he has made. From beneath the ground around the clearing rises a dozen or more metal columns, with tall humanoids atop each one, swathed in fabrics that glisten with fire. His weapon is empty and so he only can watch as the beings approach. In whispery, tinkling voices, they tell him they are the Granu, original inhabitants of this world. Their central star flared and drove their civilization underground, where they have existed from that time forward. They saw the humans arrive but could not fathom their motives nor understand their ways quickly enough to decide: friends or enemies? So, they mutated one of their own pet companions and then left it where the humans would find it. Its fate in human hands would be the determinant, either to reveal themselves peacefully if the pet survived, or to emerge with weapons blazing if the pet was killed. And the humans now have been seen to pass their trial. Can we be friends, perhaps to trade, you living here on your surface and we living within our world? Halloran agrees, and the pact is made. But what of the pet, that we call Galumphus? One of the beings is hovering over it, using metal spheres to close its wounds. It is gravely hurt, a being whispers, and it may die, but it has served its purpose.
Later, Halloran and his wife are peeking out the curtains of their house as an aircar drifts by with three Granu aboard. The humans are slowly becoming accustomed to the Granu but already both sides have prospered from their shared contacts. The couple go out to their back yard, and there is Galumphus happily playing with the Halloran children. And Halloran says, "And nobody, no matter who they are, ever again will say one bad word about our 'whatchmacallit'!"

The secret is this: to explore, determine, and evaluate, one only has to put an idea or ideas out 'there' to see how they find treatment in other people's hands. writerfella always has done this, and that is how he learns and that is how he has learned about this place...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

By "this place," do you mean this blog? What have you learned here? That I don't let anyone spout arguments without facts and evidence? That's a lesson I'm more than happy to stand by.

Rob said...

While you've been learning about us, we've been learning about you. In particular, we've learned your views about the Pequots, the Chickasaws, the Chickahominies, the Pueblos, et al. If they were the judges in this story, I'm pretty sure they'd prefer my positions to yours.

As for the "foofarah," it takes two to argue. The solution is pretty simple. Don't attack my positions in my blog unless you're prepared to defend your positions.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
'Attack'? Wouldn't that word precipitate yet another stereotype? writerfella has discussed several statements in this particular venue, and questioned, parallelled, or even satirized many of them. But 'attack'? Unless discussion somehow is seen as being no more than complete agreement and/or approbation, there has been no such 'attack'. Your statement, "Don't attack my positions in my blog..." has an interesting analogy, as when Alice says, 'I'm trying to find my way around.' And the Red Queen replies, 'Your way? All ways here are My ways!'
Positions are what one posits or even deposits, which is to situate or to place any given 'something' as though it were a fact, something that one assumes or postulates. writerfella well realizes that he is but a guest, and any 'attack' would imply both arrogance and insubordination. One, while writerfella can be insolent of necessity, he never is insubordinate and, two, writerfella very much is aware that arrogance and self-awareness never co-exist.
writerfella always has been an explorer, a fathomer if you will. He knows body language and what that tacit argot communicates. He knows voice cadences and the myriad meanings that underlie speech. But, as a writer, writerfella understands what actually is being stated when other people write. Thus, his parable about the floating out of ideas to see how they fare at the hands of others. No more, no less, it is exploration.
No Pearl Harbor in any of the above, nor even Pearl Bailey. Simply...synergism and the evocation of same. There's a story in all of this, and it has gone into the mill. I must know more.
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'