As I noted before, the show is almost devoid of real Inca culture or history. Here are the only references I've seen:
These references to gods are instructive, so let's look at them. According to Wikipedia:
In this episode, Kuzco and his friends are guarding a valuable mask. Kuzco falls asleep and thinks (or dreams) he sees Viracocha, who has come to retrieve the mask.
Kuzco correctly identifies Viracocha as "the creator, the great power above." Does he bow down to this supreme deity? No, he's so egotistical that he expects Viracocha to bow to him. He then imagines Viracocha imitating a llama and doing a stand-up comedy routine.
Could there be a better example of how The Emperor's New School disdains Indian culture? A supreme deity is treated like a joke. To the show's creators, he's no different from Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. He's infinitely less important, not more important, than a human emperor who should be groveling at his feet.
Imagine if The Emperor's New School had shown the Christian God or Jesus prancing on all fours like an ass. It's unthinkable. Yet the show has been just that insulting to an Inca god who's as powerful and real as the biblical God.
Later, Viracocha appears to appear in a doorway. The school's instructor blurts out, "You're supposed to be a myth!" (The figure turns out to be Pacha, who has borrowed the mask for a masquerade, not Viracocha.)
There you go. The Christian God is so holy that TV shows rarely mention him for fear of upsetting someone. Indian gods are myths to be made fun of.
The same could be said of Indian culture, or Indians. According to The Emperor's New School, they aren't real people, they're myths to be made fun of. They had some wacky adventures when they lived centuries ago in a magical never-never land, but now they're dead and gone.
In this episode, Kuzco goes to the Temple of the Sky God. This god is represented by a statue that looks like Virococha holding a lightning bolt like Zeus. Because people resent him, Kuzco wishes he'd never been emperor. In a blast of magical power, the god (or the statue) grants his wish.
Again we see a lack of respect for Indian culture and religion. There's no solemnity or spirituality in this Inca temple. The god is a Wizard of Oz-style magician who grants wishes to anyone, whether he's been faithful or not. This god is less discriminating than Santa Claus, who at least requires people to be nice.
According to The Emperor's New School, an Indian civilization like the Inca empire is just like every other fantasyland: Oz, Wonderland, Narnia, et al. If someone announced these people lived in a galaxy far, far away, few viewers would think twice about it. Indians might as well remain in Neverland with the pirates, mermaids, and fairies, because they're no more real than other imaginary creatures.
No wonder so many kids think Indians are dead and gone. That's the message they're getting from Saturday morning TV.
I guess, to me, the question is, is the Inca religion a current Native religion? If not, and it is long long gone, then I think this show is is no worse than Disney's "Hercules" cartoon, which has gods once worshipped by Greeks as silly characters alongside silly human characters... or Marvel comics that depict gods once important to Scandinavians running around in bright colored spandex.
I can also mention that the "Emperors" film and show, from what little I have seen of it, is devoid of the negative stereotypes of Indians. A good list is found here. (I'm sure there are Inca princesses in it, but the Incas, unlike North American Natives, actually did have royalty!). There's not even any sort of Apocalypto implication that the silly culture needs to give way to the "better" whites that will come along. Yes, you mentioned Yzma the witch in an earlier review as being negative about Indian spirituality, but I think that argument vanishes when she is put in the context of the numerous non-Native witches in such cartoons as "Little Mermaid" and "Snow White".
I did a quick look in Wikipedia and could find no reference to these Incan gods being important at all to living indigious South Americans. If they are, I would welcome a correction and change my view. I did, however, easily find references to Inca gods being revered by (white) New Agers! That is one thing that would make a difference to me: if actual Incas were bothered by this.
The "They had some wacky adventures when they lived centuries ago in a magical never-never land, but now they're dead and gone." description applies to so much, including Disney's Hercules, anyone's King Arthur stories, the Asterix graphic novels, the "Roman Holidays" cartoon that no-one else remembers, and much more. It in fact applies to any cartoony/humorous or "light" interepretation of any ancient peoples, indiginous or not.
Is it a great cartoon? I think it is rather inane and crudely drawn. But, given the information I've found so far, it is not a stereotype nightmare like Disney's "Lil Hiawatha".
Writerfella here --
writerfella knew the bogus nature of all that was said, as soonasthat writer misspelled, 'Varicocha.'
Some quotes on the present-day Quechua people of Peru and Ecuador:
"Quechua religion today retains a good deal of Inca influence, though essentially it is a special form of Catholicism. It is not difficult to see how the overlay of Catholic beliefs and ritual syncretized with traditional Quechua ideas. Religion is important in the daily life of any highland community and ceremonialism is allied to the most practical and serious objectives of the community."
"The modern descendants of the Inca are the Quechua-speaking peoples of the Andes, who make up almost half the population of Peru; they practice Catholicism infused with a belief in various native gods and spirits."
Quechua religion combines both pre-Columbian and Catholic elements. The most significant pre-Columbian influence that endures is the belief that supernatural forces govern everyday events, such as weather and illness. This belief serves a utilitarian purpose to the agricultural Quechua. By making offerings to the powers that control natural forces, the Quechua feel they can influence events and not merely be helpless in the face of bad weather or disease. When drinking alcohol, for example, it is customary to first offer a drink to Mother Earth, Pachamama.
This religious Andean world is populated by gods who have human attributes. Sometimes they love each other and other times they hate and fight each other. For this reason, the Andean religion has two dimensions in the lives of the people. First, in human terms it promotes social cohesion, and second, in transcendental terms it connects gods and humans.
The Quechua have adopted Christianity and also have incorporated it into their indigenous beliefs.
Even if the Inca religion were dead, which it isn't, I don't think the situation would be comparable to the Greek religion portrayed in Hercules or the Norse religion portrayed in THOR comics. In these two cases, a genuine religion is made shiny and superficial for mass consumption. But at least most of the basics are present. Not so in The Emperor's New School.
We're talking about three levels of religion here:
1) Real religion: the religion that ancient people actually believed.
2) Superficial religion: a lighthearted version of real religion--about all you can expect in a cartoon or comic book.
3) Nonexistent religion: what you basically see in The Emperor's New School. (One human impersonating a god and one magic trick in a temple adds up to an almost nonexistent religion.)
If The Emperor's New School gave us Native religion a la Hercules or THOR, I might not have complained. But it doesn't, does it? This show isn't just falsifying an actual religion, it's falsifying the idea that Indians had a religion.
With regards to you saying that the Christian God is holy and is treated better off by cartoonists who subsequently make fun of an Inca God - it's only partly correct. While most Christians (especially conservatives) would openly decry any portrayal of their God as blasphemous, the fact remains that popular culture has caricatured this God as well.
Really, people often think of God as some sort of bearded old man whose hobby is simply being a divine party pooper who sends people who have a little fun to hell.
I'm a Christian myself and though I find it at times amusing, it does contradict what we actually believe in. But somehow it doesn't seem to bother me since as far as I believe that crap isn't true.
So I'm just commenting on that part when you said that the ABRAHAMIC(shared by Christians, Muslims, Jews, and associated faiths) God warrants respect and gets it - it's not always the case. Just check out uncyclopedia.org and see what I mean.
As for the rest of the article, it's just a cartoon. Being a cartoonist myself, I enjoy making a few quasi-historical comic strips (mind you, I do my research). The outcome is still rather silly (that's what cartoons are supposed to do). It may deviate from history, but hey, if you want to learn about the incas, goolge it.
Oh, and there are elements of Andean culture referenced in the "Emperor's" series - cutting blocks to form-fit with its irregular neighbor, pan-pipes, panchos - but it's mostly for setting.
And btw, to the guy who made a remark about Apocalypto - the movie didn't show the Mayans being supplanted by the "better" Spaniards. The movie portrayed (inaccurately) the fall of a decaying civilization by an implied conquest. The regime that replaced the Maya civilization sucked - that's why those little countries owned by Spain are now republics.
I also don't think you can do a straight-up comparison of Greek and Inca religions and expect them to be equivalent. (I leave out the Norse religion because I don't know that much about it.) Let's take a look:
The Greek gods were all-powerful beings with all of our human foibles. They fell in love, became jealous, grew angry, etc. They often performed what I would call magic tricks: transforming themselves or humans into animals or trees, creating objects with magic powers, putting curses on people, etc.
Native religions are almost the opposite. Spirits are everywhere, in every object, rather than concentrated in a small number of human-like beings. Deities tend to be abstractions that lack full personalities. Like Greeks, Natives communicate with their deities via ceremonies, but they don't expect these deities to smite an enemy or make a neighbor fall in love.
With that in mind, I don't think the portrayal in Hercules is that far from reality. The Greek gods constantly intervened in the lives of humans with supernatural tricks and transformations. They supposedly did what Yzma tries to do: remove one ruler and replace him with another.
In contrast, Native gods didn't do much more than bring rain, make the crops grow, and fill the land with game. Yet in The Emperor's New School, magic is nearly omnipresent. With her magical abilities, Yzma might as well be a minor goddess or sorceress like Circe.
I agree the show doesn't employ the usual Native stereotypes. But it's guilty of one big one: that Native people are more magical and less real than the rest of us. In this view, all healers are shamans, all dreams are visions, and all medicines are magic powders.
This stereotype has several implications: that Indians don't live on quite the same plane as the rest of us. That the only real Indians are the ones who remain pure and spiritual. That Indians are betraying their heritage when they get a job or open a casino.
In short, it's no fun being considered a magical or supernatural person when you aren't one. Stereotypes rarely convey an advantage and this case isn't the exception.
Comparisons between the Christian God and Inca gods aren't valid either. Here's why:
1) There are a thousand schools of thought, if not more, on the nature of the Christian God. In other words, there's no official doctrine or keeper of the doctrine about God. God is different things to different Christians.
If a cartoonist gives us the 1,001st interpretation of God, who's to say he's wrong? The pope or some priest or televangelist? They don't define Christianity for every Christian. No one does.
In contrast, a small number of clans or priesthoods do define many Native religions. Religious leaders know their beliefs well enough to state that such-and-such is true or false. If a cartoonist who doesn't know such a religion tries to portray it, he's likely to get it wrong.
2) With the exception of such cult shows as South Park, Christianity gets plenty of respect in the mainstream media. People rarely suggest Christian beliefs are primitive or superstitious, although they arguably are. Not so with Native religions. People often diss them or pretend they don't exist, as in The Emperor's New School.
3) Mainstream Christians and Viracocha worshipers aren't in the same position in the US. Christians have their beliefs validated and upheld daily in many ways. Every prayer, Pledge of Allegiance, and "In God We Trust" on our currency confirms that their beliefs are the "right" ones.
In contrast, a Viracocha worshiper gets nothing but critics and cartoons saying his beliefs are primitive and superstitious or magical and unreal. It's much harder to shrug that off when it's the only message about Virococha in the media. You can't go shopping for an alternative view at a church down the street or on a Sunday morning show. You have to take what The Emperor's New School tells you is true.
I've said before that the imagery of The Emperor's New Groove and its spinoffs--the architecture, the clothing, the llamas--is vaguely Incan. Other than that, the cartoons are essentially culture-free. They're no closer to portraying genuine Indians than a John Wayne movie or Peter Pan.
I've already discussed and dismissed the "it's just a cartoon" argument many times. Do I need to do it again? Okay, if you insist.
Children absorb Native stereotypes from the media long before they get to school and learn how to use Google. By the time they're old enough to know better, they don't know that what they've absorbed is wrong. To them, all Indians wear feathers and live in teepees. Since there's no doubt about it, there's no need to look it up.
For the umpteenth time, I repeat a telling anecdote. From Steve Harvey's column in the LA Times, c. 1995-96:
When a portrait of a crinkly eyed Smith was shown on "Biography," our daughter Sarah, age 7, said, "Oh, my God! He's got a beard! He's almost bald!"
When a portrait of the Indian princess was shown, Sarah took one look at the somewhat plump, round-faced child and declared: "That is not Pocahontas."
During one commercial break, however, she exclaimed, "There they are," pointing triumphantly to the screen, where the voluptuous Indian maiden and surfer John were indeed frolicking. It was an ad for the animated movie.
Do you seriously expect a 7-year-old or any child to apply her critical thinking abilities to a cartoon? What critical thinking abilities? Do you seriously expect her to know how to use Google and interpret the results? Why should she when the movie itself is plausible?
If she had read Disney's marketing materials, she'd know that Disney consulted with Pocahontas's descendants and used Native actors to make the movie. Why go to all that trouble if Pocahontas was a total fiction unrelated to reality? Even a kid can understand that Disney tries to make its movies real so people will believe they're real. That's a message some adults still haven't grasped.
Incidentally, the correct spelling of the Inca god's name is "Viracocha," Russ. If you knew how to use Google, you could easily confirm this.
Proving the point, "Viracocha" gets 149,000 hits in Google while "Varicocha" gets only 77. Case closed.
Writerfella here --
You took five blog items and nearly 900 words finally to get to that particular statement, Rob? You're slipping...
The God mentioned in the American pledge of allegiance is the deist God - a ceremonial placeholder for some non-religious alternative cause for the universe. It acknowledges God, but doesn't specify what interpretation of God as a respect for the separation of church and state. And it's ceremonial - it means whatever you want it to mean depending on you're beliefs.
Deism is irreligion - it's an approach to God without having to resort to religion.
Just saying... I don't mean to cause any offense. In fact, I have a healthy respect and admiration for the Native American peoples. However, I'm not in North America.
I'm not sure how worse this is, but is the portrayals of Americans in "UFO Baby" with huge beak-shaped noses just as bad? Or those portrayals of Gauls and Romans by Asterix? Probably not.
Deism is religion: if you are "approaching God", you are being religious.
Thank you for also mentioning Asterix.
If you don't think the US government means the Christian God in the Pledge of Allegiance or the coin motto, let's substitute Yahweh or Allah or Creator for "God." Why not, since these are also just "ceremonial placeholders" for the one true deity? What does the name matter if we're all worshiping the same god?
Guess how fast Americans would shoot down this idea. Why? Because "God" is the name of the Christian god as well as the Deist god, and Americans can't tolerate the idea that any god but God is supreme.
I took 900 or however many words to respond because DMarks and Anonymous raised important points in their comments. Too bad you didn't have anything useful to contribute, Russ.
I saved your spelling mistake for last because it was only incidental to the discussion. But let's note that 1) you made another foolish mistake and 2) you foolishly refused to admit it.
By the way, "soon as that" is three words, not one ("soonasthat"). Learn to proofread your messages, fella.
It depends on your definition of religion. If religion, you mean "approaching God", then yes, it is. The Catholic Encyclopedia defines Deism as the "religion of nature".
According to Wikipedia, it's irreligion since it lacks the pomp and ceremony of religion - no set beliefs or official holy days. It could be anything.
And by all means some of the portrayals of the Abrahamic God - especially in programs like South Park, Family Guy, The Simpsons,MadTV, and the like - are soften downright preposterous. Honestly I doubt if any Christian person would think that their God actually has a girlfriend and uses condoms like that portrayed in Family Guy. "Who are we to question that?" Uh... No serious theologian would ever suggest that.
Likewise, it is interesting that you brought up the fact that the cartoon was geared to a young audience that are too young to Google. Spot on.
I'm actually quite surprised that they even portrayed the Incas in a cartoon - I expected the Mesoamerican civilizations to be portrayed, but then they have a bad rap for cutting the hearts out of people (rather than the math, and the calendar, and that nice guy named Quetzalcoatl - the king, not the god). It could be worse; at least they didn't portray child sacrifices (lol - why would they).
Critical thinking in a cartoon isn't really something you'd expect or for that matter need. Or would you rather have a large honking disclaimer shortly before the opening theme that says "NONE OF THIS STUFF IS REAL" - for a cartoon, this goes without saying most of the time. I mean I admit that "Time Squad" is generally hogwash but I still find it entertaining.
I guess people take the time to research on something, then make it historically inaccurate to create a generally authentic setting. If what takes place is totally fictional (no reference to real personalities)- or absolutely true, then I guess it's alright to do it.
And I was just wondering: wouldn't something like the "Emperor's" Series more likely to offend the people who are actually descended from the Incas - the Peruvians? Was the film even showed in Peru?
Writerfella here --
Enh, enh, oh, you're too late, Rob! That was Beulah The BlogSite Buzzer, and your time is up. Your reply should been in the first 100 words instead of being lost amid your usual clutter of smoke and mirrors.
BUT -- you absolutely are correct that 'god' in any and all documents/slogans/codas anent the US of A means the Christian 'god.' Just as the line "All men are created equal" means men and NOT women, and EuroMen to boot, period.
And remember the trouble the Japanese got into over THEIR Pledge of Allegiance: "One Nation, under Godzilla..."
These are probably the dumbest arguments against this. And to be perfectly honest, I sort of agree with the original point - the reasoning behind it is good, and yet I find it unusual. It's like you're making a big deal out of something very small. If you want a positive portrayal of American Indians, lobby for it - DEMAND it. Or make one of your own.
1st "dumb" argument: Misrepresentation is one of the prices paid by free speech. The good thing about it is that you can speak out AGAINST it, like here.
2nd Argument(prolly just as dumb as the other one):
The Incas were more than some native South American tribe with primitive beliefs - they were a civilization (and one of the more iconic ones at that) with systems that leave generations in awe. I haven't seen a great civilization that isn't humorously caricatured in one cartoon or the other. Okay, the Khmer, I haven't seen, but all the other great civilizations have been portrayed in animation, often with consequential references to the modern or contemporary era.
I'm not taking out the possibility that some Egyptians are lobbying against the misrepresentation of their ancestors. Likewise with things like "Life of Brian".
By any chance, do you think they (the production company), actually intended to offend or misrepresent anyone. Their point was to make something silly for kids to laugh at, not to represent the Incas. The same goes for the Roman Holidays, or Disney's Hercules. Although Hercules makes some references to Greek culture and myth and Asterix was known to have references to actual historical facts.
Inca Emperors were treated with a status similar to gods. The Incans saw their Emperor as a god on earth. So it is likely that Kuzco addressed to Viracocha rather arrogantly is possibly due to his "equal-status" with him as one of the gods. Of course this doesn't change the fact that it's still grossly inaccurate: it doesn't make all the other references to Inca gods any less insulting.
This may tick the blogger off, but I originally agreed with the general idea. I digressed with all my subsequent posts.
I have no idea if Peruvians have seen The Emperor's New Groove or reacted to it. I haven't read anything about that.
The Inca emperor may have been thought a deity, but I doubt he considered himself equal to Viracocha, the supreme being. I strongly doubt he considered himself superior.
says the emperor claimed to be "the son of the sun god." A son doesn't tell his father to bow to him or to imitate a llama.
I haven't seen the bit in Family Guy, but I have seen the bits in The Simpsons. I'd say the depiction of God there is irreverent but ultimately respectful. It's the difference between teasing your parents, which many people do, and insulting them.
The "every civilization gets parodied" argument misses a key point. People get a wealth of information about the positive aspects of Greek and Roman cultures. They get almost no information about the positive aspects of Maya or Inca cultures. For many people, Apocalypto and The Emperor's New Groove will be their only exposure to these cultures.
I've probably spent more time on The Emperor's New School than it's worth. But even if you don't care about this cartoon, you can appreciate the arguments. More to the point, you can apply them to other areas.
In other words, I'm helping people to analyze things critically rather than accept them mindlessly. I'm helping myself as well. Every analysis such as this one sharpens my critical faculties.
This whole website--e.g., the Stereotype of the Month contest--is arguably one huge "demand." But again, I'd rather educate people to think and act for themselves. I can lobby for change myself, one on one, or I can create a host of enlightened readers who can lobby for me. Which do you think is the more effective strategy?
Incidentally, I'm working on my own Native depictions (in comic books) while I criticize other people's depictions. So I'm no hypocrite. I look forward to the reviews of the PEACE PARTY graphic novel with bated breath.
When Congress added "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, I bet they didn't make many references to the Deist God. I bet they made lots of references to the Christian God. Anyone wanna bet?
Why should I clutter my blog with talk about your stupid mistakes in the first 100 words, Russ? No one wants to read about your picky, petty spelling and usage claims except you. Especially since you're wrong most of the time.
I put discussions of your stupid mistakes where they belong--at the end. If you're too lazy to read that far, then don't. It's no skin off my nose if you miss me correcting you in front of thousands of readers.
Fortunately, Rob, all one has to do is examine your posts, thence to find that you say the same things each and every time over and again, only using MORE words that next time around. Tsk...
Says the guy who touts his stories and screenplays over and over. Pot calls kettle black...film at 11.
Readers can judge for themselves whether I'm repeating myself. They also can judge whether you stupidly misspelled "Viracocha."
"I can lobby for change myself, one on one, or I can create a host of enlightened readers who can lobby for me. Which do you think is the more effective strategy?"
My advice - do both, if you can.But if you can't (which is what I assume, correct me if I'm wrong), then by all means stick to getting people to get out of the couch for once - it might be good for them.
Silly counter to the "sons don't tell their dads to bow to him or act like a donkey": affectionate dads would do that, but not often. And second, the character Kuzco is a self-absorbed narcissistic brat - sacrilege isn't above that character. This is weak and flimsy at best so, let's move on.
Oh, and for the record, my first impression of the Romans was that they were a decadent warlike people who killed for sport. Same went with the Germans, too. This doesn't change anything yes, but that was just to refute any ideas that the Romans get a better chance of positive portrayal than the Incas and Maya.
To tell you the truth - until recently I couldn't tell which one of the 2 major Mesoamerican civilizations were far worse off, the Maya or Aztec. Hands down, the Maya. the Aztecs copied EVERYTHING from everyone else in the region.
Pity for the American people knowing more of cultures in just about every other continent, and misrepresenting the ones in the Americas themselves. Uncyclopedia must be "right" when they said that "a Canadian that doesn't like Hockey is like an American who doesn't enjoy stereotyping people".
Good luck with that comic strip idea - hope it ends up better than mine. The costumes I did were based on Apocalypto, with some additions based entirely on memory from whatever idea I got from my old reference (which wasn't available during the time I made it). Heck, the temples even had Aztecan roof combs! it was short notice - did it for a school art project. Maybe I should make a remake of it. For all we know, it may be better than Apocalypto. I'd like to know more about your comic project... any links to it in this blog?
I don't have time to lobby people one on one. And who would I lobby, anyway? Hundreds of thousands of people are in charge of sports teams, Hollywood studios, and government institutions. No small set of individuals controls society's stereotyping of Indians.
Kuzco's sacrilegious behavior is a major issue, not a minor one. The whole point of The Emperor's New School is to treat Indians as if they were Americans: narcissistic, materialistic, irreligious. The show cheats genuine Indian cultures by rendering their beliefs and customs immaterial.
Good point that movies often stereotype ancient Rome as a decadent empire of bread and circuses. Rome actually was decadent for a relatively short portion of its history. The Caligula/Nero era was atypical and unrepresentative.
I was thinking more of the Greeks and what children learn in their schoolbooks. Hollywood's version of history is rarely accurate, of course. But it's the only history most people get.
P.S. You can learn more about PEACE PARTY in our FAQ and Contents pages.
To tell you the truth - until recently I couldn't tell which one of the 2 major Mesoamerican civilizations were far worse off, the Maya or Aztec. Hands down, the Maya. the Aztecs copied EVERYTHING from everyone else in the region.
- sorry! made a mistake. I said "worse" off when I meant "better" off. I'll check that link out, btw. Spot on with the arguments, mind you. Being a communications student myself, it's pleasing to think that there are some people who have brains enough to criticize what they think is wrong in media. Keep it up!
I think this is bs, comparing a tv show to beliefs? Are you really going to stoop to the level of saying that storyboard writer's purposefully made fun of Viracocha and insulting indian culture? And it never says that the emperor's new school is an inca civilization. Maybe based off of it, but not quite. It's an innocent cartoon, not an opinion section of tv. You may as well say the same of Hercules, or the Percy Jackson series. Or even movies such as Casper because some people believe in that and that that is real. Or with your logic you could stoop as low as to say that modern fantasy games are insulting to satanists or shamanistic cultures. People even give the same load of crap to Christianity as any other religion or belief. So dont think that Native Americans need more respect, when its just the same as the rest of the world you are so oblivious to.
That's kind of like saying The Flinstones is offensive to cavemen. It's a CARTOON. It doesn't have to be historically acurate. That's why it's called FICTION. If you don't like it, don't watch it, but don't try to force your opinion on other people, and don't try to get us to understand it because some of us won't.
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