October 14, 2008

Another "Native" actor discovered

Previously we discovered that formerly white actors Taylor Lautner and Johnny Depp are Indians who are qualified to play Indians. Now comes news that a third white actor is actually an Indian.

Lynn Collins talks ‘Silver Fox’ of X-Men Origins: WolverineCollins, 29, who this year tied the knot with 10,000BC star Steven Strait, said playing the Marvel comicbook mutant in the X-Men prequel allowed her to embrace her Native American roots as well as getting intimate with Jackman.Does that decision satisfy everyone?Maggie Q and Michelle Monaghan were previously believed to be in line for the role. Fans were disappointed with the decision not to cast a Native American actress, but the mention of Collins' roots appears to lay to rest that particular criticism.Should we worry about how Collins will play a Blackfeet Indian?Asked by MTV how she prepared for the role of Silver Fox, Collins said her male co-stars had a much tougher time getting into their roles. ... "I didn't have to beef up in this movie, I just had to wear skimpy clothes."But at least Silver Fox still retains her core identity as an Indian, right? According to another source:Lynn Collins stars as love interest Kayla Silverfox (an amalgamation of two separate comicbook characters, Kayla and the native American mutant Silver Fox)."Kayla Silverfox"? Oh, right...because not only is a brown-skinned Indian too strange for Hollywood, even an brown-skinned Indian's name is too strange. Let's make the "exotic" Indian into a typical action figure with a leather bikini and a Valley Girl name.

Are the critics mollified? Not if you go by this posting:I don't know anything about Lynn Collins, but it is very off-putting that one of the few Native American characters in comic books is going to be played by a white person. That shows insensitivity and laziness on the studio's part.Comment:  In related news, Al Pacino, Barbara Streisand, Ricky Gervais, and Gwyneth Paltrow also have discovered they're part Indian. Look for them to play a bickering family of Plains Indians in a 19th-century remake of All in the Family. With Tony Shalhoub and Margaret Cho as their wacky Indian neighbors.

Sheesh. Is there any actor who isn't qualified to play an Indian these days?

Since we have three instances of this happening, it's officially a trend. When casting an Indian role, studios find the cutest, hottest star they can with an ounce of Indian blood. Voilá! Political correctness is satisfied and critics are supposed to shut up about it.

These studios must not use Google to identify "Native" actors. Because if they searched for Lynn Collins, they wouldn't find any evidence that she's Native. But I'm sure they have great resources at their fingertips, or we might have to accuse them of "insensitivity and laziness."

Yeah, I'd say it's lazy and insensitive when you act like bigots. No one would hire an Indian to play Wolverine, the Lone Ranger, or Edward Cullen from Twilight, but white pseudo-Indians get hired to play Silver Fox, Tonto, and Jacob Black. Discriminating in casting based on race is the epitome of racism.

So put this in your (peace) pipe and smoke it, Twentieth Century Fox. Your casting decision is racist. Because my blog is popular, people will find this note whenever they Google "Silver Fox." If you don't like being called racist, change your racist casting policies.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

P.S. To reiterate the point for Google's search engine:  Twentieth Century Fox...racist.


Anonymous said...

it's funny to read a white guy getting annoyed about natives not playing natives...
get over it, it's not exactly news worthy.
as a famous bill said, 'she doth protest too much...'

Rob said...

I'm glad you're amused. I hope you appreciate my stance supporting the rights of all minorities even though I'm white.

Of course, I'm just reiterating what others have said. Again, "Fans were disappointed with the decision not to cast a Native American actress."

Shakespeare's "doth protest too much" line refers to people protesting about their own circumstances. Not about the circumstances of others. Oops.

Blogs exist to report things that don't make it into the MSM. If you don't like it, too bad. No one's forcing you to read Newspaper Rock.

Anonymous said...

Notes from an essay-in-progress entitled: "These Are Not Natives" - by Melvin Martin

Wrong, "anonymous"! As a so-called "Native American" (a so-called "Sioux" who indeed looks all-too-Native with my dark-brown skin, jet-black hair and classically shaped and formed Plains Indian facial features), I take great exception to your extremely ignorant, hillbillyesque post regarding the validity of a non-Native's perspective on all of the wannabe, phony, johnny-come-lately white actors passing themselves off as Native (even though in my book they are about as Native as a red plastic Tupperware bowl). I salute and commend any non-Native person who brings this maddening anomaly to the attention of the public as Hollyweird has a long and sickening tradition of casting non-Natives in often critical roles that call for actual Natives much to the displeasure of the REAL Native community in America. "Native America" has been rife with frauds of all types since we were first thrust into the popular imagination beginning with 18th and 19th century East Coast news reporting and especially with the Wild West-era dime novels that essentially portrayed Native people in ways that were exceptionally erroneous and ludicrously sensationalized to say the least. And Native frauds continue to abound not only in the entertainment industry, but in academia, business, politics (witness Todd Palin), sports, the traditional Native arts arena, et al. REAL Native people are deeply harmed by this proliferation of
frauds and when non-Native people draw attention to this outrage, to me it is not only very worthwhile in terms of news reportage, but it is also one more glaring example of non-Natives once again simply taking from us - in these instances our very identities as human beings.

Rob said...

Take that, hillbillies, Hollyweird, and Tupperware bowls! ;-)

Thanks for the support, Melvin. Send me your essay when you're done with it.

Brett McDowell said...

As a Canadian who has loved Wolverine since I was a child, this is an outrage. I live in Manitoba where we actually still have a huge native population so don't tell me there are no actors. A big part of Wolverine was his acceptance of other cultures. This is bull@#$# an attack on interracial relationships in the media. Wolverines morality and character are heavily influenced by first nations culture, just like my country.

Anonymous said...

wow this sucks. i was also dissapointed to hear that talia al ghul is probably going to be played by teresa palmer. last i checked, she wasn't arab. at least this girl is claiming some native american blood.

Anonymous said...

I want to see a real navite not some white chick claiming it.

then if thats the case ever one native american

Anonymous said...

just butch my heritage hollywood, I'd even prefer an asian actor to play Silverfox, but you couldn't even do that.
Rob good for you for standing up for Native American rights.

Marilyn said...

Oh, I don't think she's miscast. In the first scene I saw her in on "True Blood" I said that girl's Native. (BTW, "Google" is not now, and has never been, a family tree database or ethnic origin recorder - absence of information on Google doesn't mean she's not native).

But, then, I'm Indian (Ojibwe) - I often notice that Indians see other Indians where whites can take someone who is clearly Native and classify them as white (Will Rogers, etc).

I am definitely on board with your effort to push for Native actors for Native roles. In her case, though, I don't think the criticism applies.

Laura said...

No offense meant Marilyn but Im Indian (Navajo) and she does NOT look Indian remotely. She has no Indian heritage.

Rob said...

Sorry, Marilyn, but I'm going with Laura's and my perceptions over yours. I've seen tens of thousands of Natives and Lynn Collins doesn't look Native to me.

I'll also go with Google's information or lack thereof over anyone's subjective opinions. In other words, show us the hard evidence about Collins's alleged ancestry.

By the way, Indians from different tribes look different, you know. If you're that perceptive, you should be able to discern which tribe or tribes she comes from. Tell us so we can check your guesses against the actual answer.

dmarks said...

So, Todd Palin is not Native Alaskan at all?

Rob said...

I think Todd Palin's case is borderline. For the details, see More on Todd Palin's Background and Todd Palin Not Native After All?

J.W.Havard said...

How about getting all the facts before you potentially show your ass to the world in the case that you get it wrong.

The lack of information concerning Ms. Collins heritage doesn't mean she's not decedent from Native Americans. You of all people should know (based on your own words) that not every Native American (those living on Reservation Lands) look "like Native Americans."

This article would be very poignant if and when you knew with more certainty what her heritage is. I'm just sayin', man. Until then, get a life.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the movie...I was taken back by her beauty be it native or not..I could see it in her. Believe it or not..if your from Oklahoma, or have ever been their..you will see alot of FBI (Fool Blooded Indians). (Half (coolies)...and or Mixed Bloods..whites that look Indian...I've seen it all..so don't judge a book by it's cover...because you never know... from a White/Cherokee and Deleware (Lenape)...with brown hair and blue green eyes..........

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, regardless of the author's ethnicity. You can't tell me that there were no talented, beautiful, available NA actresses out there. Hollywood has a history of treating minority representation terribly- for NAs, just grab a white person and give them dark hair, and all asian ethnities are interchangeable, right?

On a side note, when I first saw the movie, I thought she did look quite NA and was shocked when I saw her pictures elsewhere. They did a number to make her look NA! They changed her hair color, skin tone, even her facial contours. I had to wonder if they didn't use some graphic manipulation, and even checked twice that I had gotten the right actress!

Unknown said...

Even if Lynn Collins is indeed a small fraction Cherokee, which was rather conveniently discovered, that doesn't make you Native, particulary in the eyes of the Natives who populate Canada and America. She didn't have live facing the same prejudices; the institutional racism, the mistreatment by the police, the socioeconomic realities. I'd like to get a DNA test to help straighten out some family background questions. If I found out I had 14% Native blood, that would not automatically mean I was Native. I pass for as a white woman, I would have the option to never disclose my genetics, and could choose to use my heritage only when it benefitted me. That doesn't keep me from meeting with Native American nations or groups, that share my genetics, to learn, if they are okay with it. But it would be a very long process to be considered legitimately Indigenous.

There are so many Indigenous actors looking for work. A LOT. Most often they must play the Mystical I*dian, the wise elder, the drunk 19th century Native, or degrading roles in which Native people are viewed as primitive, foolish, lamentable creatures. Oversexualized women. Roles that act to degrade Natives for crude laughs, ala Adam Sandler. Native actors deserve to fill three dimensional and varied roles that span the Indigenous experience. This is an employment opportunity not tapped. Casting a white person wearing darker makeup and claiming history is as ridiculous as giving some white dude a role calling for a Black grandparent and putting the actor in black face. It's a slap in the face to Natives, and takes valuable jobs from them, while they struggle to get casted in roles.

It is a big deal. If you agree, shout this from the rooftops.

P.S. Casting Indigenous people helps ensure you are accurate in your writing of Indigenous people and culture. Give them an opportunity to vet things about the character and your script. Blackfoot groups don't do something you have in the script? That's not how dream catchers work? Here's how it's like for a Native person living in NYC? Reasons why Star Trek DS9 mangled Chokotay? All will benefit your production and help change racist perceptions, dispell myths, and crush stereotypes.