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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.