In 1937 Laura Ingalls Wilder spoke about the mysterious Bender family near her "Little House on the Prairie":Selective Omissions, or, What Laura Ingalls Wilder left out of LITTLE HOUSEThere were Kate Bender and two men, her brothers, in the family and their tavern was the only place for travelers to stop on the road south from Independence. People disappeared on that road. Leaving Independence and going south they were never heard of again. It was thought they were killed by Indians but no bodies were ever found.
Then she revealed the Benders' secret:In the cellar underneath was the body of a man whose head had been crushed by the hammer. It appeared that he had been seated at the table back to the curtain and had been struck from behind it. A grave was partly dug in the garden with a shovel close by. The posse searched the garden and dug up human bones and bodies. One body was that of a little girl who had been buried alive with her murdered parents.
Educator Debbie Reese puts Wilder's story in context:In her book, she presents Indians as frightening and menacing. Through Mrs. Scott, she tells us about a massacre. And three times, her characters say "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." It is "fit" for children to read about "wild Indians" but not serial killers who are white, nor is it "fit" for children to read that Pa killed someone in order to protect his family from harm.
(Excerpted from Debbie Reese's American Indians in Children's Literature
Comment: For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Books
Writerfella here --
In Ep. 18, "Knife In The Darkness," written by Harlan Ellison for the Western TV series, CIMARRON STRIP (1967-68), a serial killer stalks Cimarron City who murders saloon women. Marshal Jim Crown (Stuart Whitman) and CIMARRON EAGLE-REGISTER editor Francis Wilde (Randy Boone) suspect a recently-arrived Enoch Shelton (Tom Skerritt) after Wilde traces serial murder reports from London to New York City to Chicago to Kansas City. There really was a speculative series of newspaper articles in 1889 and 1890 that claimed a famous murderer may have emigrated to the United States, leaving the bloody trail as described above. The murderer? Jack The Ripper! Rob would have hated the episode as Shelton makes the mistake of murdering a Native woman and summarily is disemboweled by her angry tribesmen. CIMARRON STRIP was a highly-respected 90-minute television entry that was cancelled after one season, not for ratings (which were excellent) but rather because each episode cost over $150K to make...
I might not have hated the episode. I know Indians sometimes did vicious things. I usually look for a pattern of stereotyping, not a single stereotype.
Writerfella here --
Let's see, if you looked at yourself in a mirror, would you see a pattern of stereotyping or merely a single instance?
In general we're talking about works of fiction with multiple plotlines, characters, and scenes. Therefore, an isolated instance of stereotyping usually isn't enough to trigger my response. I look for an overall pattern of falsification, not a single flaw.
Is that why you complain so often about my criticism? Because you wrongly think I'm being picky? Your mistake if you don't realize how broadly applicable my criticism usually is.
Writerfella here --
Does that mean that your 'criticism' is not limited to Native mentions in movies, TV, print fiction, and other popular culture? Do you analyze infomercials? Do you criticize worldwide political ambitions? Have you sought the meanings behind nursery rhymes? Are you looking toward finding the intents of the Aryan survivalist movements? Will you soon tell us why whole species of amphibians are going extinct worldwide? Are you deriving factors that govern both El Ninos and La Ninas? Ooh,and maybe you even are exploring why Cheer has a whiter white?
Let's hear about those!
I've never seen a Native-themed infomercial, but I've analyzed regular commercials such as the Zagar and Steve ads.
I'm not sure what a "worldwide political ambition" is or how you'd analyze it, but I've commented on international indigenous issues: global warming's effect on indigenous people, indigenous interactions with the pope, Evo Morales's advocacy of indigenous rights, etc.
There aren't many nursery rhymes featuring Native people, but I've reported on the "Ten Little Indians" verse and song.
Aryan survivalist movements don't have much to do with Indians or popular culture, but I've linked America's cultural mindset to conservative Christian beliefs in Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, and Christian Patriots.
So the basic answer to your odd series of questions is yes. My criticism is broadly applicable to all these areas, not just to movies, TV shows, and print fiction.
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