January 14, 2009

Natives outraged over Twilight

Native Americans Outraged Over Twilight FraudNative Americans are outraged over what they hold as deceptions in and around the production of the Hollywood film series Twilight.

With the commercial success of Twilight, Hollywood is abuzz with agents molding, fitting, and pushing their celebrity actors to pass as Native Americans.

“The Twilight Series is one of few commercial films, a script, and a story with Native American roles.” said Lydia Ponce. “It is a sad day to see that the big power agents are marketing Filipino and Asian celebrity actors to play Native Americans. These are such rare opportunities. When films like Twilight knowingly and willfully select non-Native American actors to play Native roles, it sends the message that we’re not good enough to represent ourselves.”

Not so long ago Old Western films hired Caucasian actors who were painted a brownish-red and wore wigs to portray Native peoples. Continued insult and injury further perpetuating bias, stereotypes, and racism, was so very wrong and evil then and now. Hollywood is using the tan spray and hair extensions again.

Hollywood agents are instructing their talent to dig and find those ‘Native Roots’ and publicize their newfound Native American heritage in interviews conveniently in sync with current casting needs and trends.
And:[I]n a film with such a strong Native American theme, only two actors of Native American decent were hired. But due to reasons unknown, Solomon Trimble (Apache) who played and established the character of Sam Uley, has suddenly lost his role.

Sam Uley’s character has been re-posted onto the Hollywood-casting breakdown, and it is obvious that Hollywood is now looking for a more marketable teen heartthrob celebrity actor to play the more substantial and very desirable part.

Given that this franchise’s upcoming sequels have two Native American female roles, it is concerning that there is only one female role currently open on the official breakdown casting. It is a very small role that never develops into a significant female lead.

Reports surfaced across the Internet yesterday morning that Vanessa Hudgens has auditioned for the other withheld major Native American role in the series.

It cannot be just mere coincidence that Chris Weitz, the new Director of the Twilight film series, shares the same powerful agent that is also representing Vanessa Hudgens and Taylor Lautner.

“Today Native American communities offer plenty of known and unknown talent.” said Lydia Ponce. “How can we accept that Filipinos and other ethnic groups, talented or not, are being packaged and sold to us as the redefined and new and improved Native American image? What about the social responsibility the casting of this film will once more have in terms of its power to re-identify and redefine an entire culture within the public eye? Hollywood is not trusting native peoples to portray themselves once again. It’s like we’re being ethnically cleansed from mainstream films.”
And:Action Alert: Join us in solidarity--Thursday, Jan. 15 @ 4:00 PM sharp--in front of Summit Entertainment for a Peaceful Rally/Demonstration: A Prayer Ceremony (Address is listed below).

Also, please join us in solidarity by having your voice heard by calling, e-mailing and contacting ALL of the Twilight representatives listed below and urge them to honor Native Peoples by having us represent ourselves:

Summit Entertainment (Production Company)
Producer: Mark Morgan
1630 Stewart St.
Ste. 120
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Phone: 818-733-5410
Comment:  A street rally over the Twilight casting decisions? I wouldn't have thought of that. I wish the protesters well and hope they achieve something. I doubt Twilight's people will respond, but perhaps a TV station or newspaper will cover the protest.

Meanwhile, I've forwarded this bulletin to a lot of people on the Internet. And I'll keep blogging on the issue. I think I'll e-mail Mark Morgan and let him know about my Twilight postings.

Below:  The biggest "Native" stars of 2009?


Anonymous said...

Don't get me wrong I understand the sentiment, but as we speak GENOCIDE is currently going on in Gaza and they want to protest an idiotic adaption of an equally idiotic children's book? Do they honestly think some piece of sh*t movie is more important than the carpet bombing of innocents?

dmarks said...

This is a multi-tasking world, Anon, and we are perfectly capable of handling more than one issue at a time. There are plenty of other blogs and forums for the issue you mention, but if you check into the title and mission of the Blue Corn Comics pages, you will see that it happens to cover different issues than the one you mentioned: issues that go on at the same time.

One could easily argue that it is "idiotic" to protest Gaza when there is something going in in Darfur that is far worse. If one has the mindset that the world must focus 100% on one issue at a time until it is solved.

Do you really think that?

Anonymous said...

"The other thing is, in America, politics and Hollwood are intertwined to the point where the two are indistinguishable from each other"

The fact is that problem is not limited to the US; the mass media's racist depictions are equally influential in such countries as the UK.

"media portrayals bringing light to any issue, even just acknowledging a minority group (a la Gran Torino and the Hmong, whom most Americans still have not heard of) do more than just entertain."

Ah yes the ol' 'only Americans are ignorant the rest of the world is shining beacon of knowledge' bullsh*t argument.

"Exoticized, racist, and stereotypical portrayals of groups who historically have gone through or are going through genocide, or violent warfare, or extreme poverty, hurt the best interests of these people; casting non-members of these groups as characters who will shape the target audience's perspective on them adds insult to injury."

No argument there.

"It is also not the focus of this blog, although it is most definitely a worthy topic of discussion."

Uhh you do realize that my post was about the protest and not this blog right?

Anonymous said...

No! Thank you

Anonymous said...

"I never said it wasn't, but I can't speak for the entertainment industry/politics in other countries, and I wouldn't presume to."

In that case my mistake.

"I never said anything about the rest of the world; I just mentioned the Hmong issue because I've lived in a heavily Hmong-populated area, and from my experience most Americans I talk to don't know about them, their existence, and/or their cultural significance even as far as American "success" in Vietnam. I didn't mean to imply that Americans are more or less ignorant than anyone from any other nation, only that my experiences are limited to America and things may be different elsewhere-- and this being the worldwide web, that kind of thing can be relevant."

My apologies, sorry if I seemed mean spirited.

Rob said...

Right on, DMarks and Genevieve!

Although Gaza isn't the focus of this blog, I've posted on it a couple of times recently: Obama = Israel's "House Servant"? and Gaza = Indian Country? Note how common it is to compare Palestinians to Indians.

Why do you think Americans have been so eager to kill Indian savages and "Muslim terrorists," Anonymous? Could it have something to do with how we've demonized them in our culture and media (including movies)?

We've discussed the profound influence of movies many times. For more on the subject, follow the link.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line (not the anon who is a full time protester or of some other means of employment that doesn't apply here)...

When you eradicate a people from existence in film/tv/entertainment/news (aka basically removing them from public view in this "modern day society" we might as well not exist already!

That is what is being done here, on top of that, the Director, Production company and Casting Directors are breaking SAG union regulations with their actions in casting and attempted casting thus far, lying outright about people's ancestral backgrounds for roles (disgusting). Don't forget however that on the flip side SAG is right there to climb all over our high priced dues paying (in more ways that just financially) professional in this industry the second we are in anything that is non-union, or not even even a SAG union contract required medium (such as news reporters, news/magazines, commentary, hosts and donated face time for non-profit organizations, etc) with threats of removing their SAG status.

I'm all for intelligent conversation and discussions of important issues, however bringing two issues of war to one discussion of one film that is being used as both a metaphor and a reality of the eradication of our people from public view, and the correlating suggestion that we don't have the talent to represent ourselves is completely inappropriate.

EVERY SINGLE CONTINENT HAS ATROCITIES ON IT. Man...we all do what we can and God put us all here to do certain things, that's why we're all different. Furthermore, you're assuming (Anonymous #1, that just because people are on here intelligently commenting on Twilight and "Hollywood" showing our people the door for the millionth time that we don't watch the news, ever leave the country or have any thoughts on the issues you mentioned.

Bottom line, this is not a political protest site, there are plenty of those, go to them. This writer does as well. Surprise.

Your superiority complex over being a person who only likes to protest and brood is neither flattering to yourself, something you should think about, and at the end of the day makes you as bad as the people you protest.

Because you assume, more than assume, that only your views, only your thoughts and only your concerns matter.

Food for thought, if you're open to it...most "professional protesters" of your type aren't. You just enjoy the rush of the feeling, the incorrect feeling of being superior to someone else. Fighting for the sake of fighting, arguing for the sake of arguing and what we are doing here and in many other places in our lives (I will write for myself) is looking for and working towards solutions while exposing unfortunate negative or unsavory current issues.

There's a big difference.


Someone who works for change

Anonymous said...

Twilight's "New Moon" Does Not Include the Character of "Leah"

O.k., so I've been busy, very, very busy and will continue to be for NATV (http://www.natvonline.org) and the community.

While I have a second here's the scoop on "New Moon" and the Native American character of Leah who only appears in one scene in "New Moon" the book.

While busy preparing for covering the Inauguration and events from the beginning of this month, apparently it hasn't become public knowledge within our community that on January 13, 2009 it first appeared on a source called The Twilight Lexicon Blog (*source below) that Melissa Rosenberg (the screenwriter for "New Moon") went on the record with them about the character of Leah not being in "New Moon" by stating the following...

""if Vanessa (Hudgens) is auditioning for the role of Leah, she’s written her own pages to read, ’cause I didn’t write ‘em."

This quote from the screenwriter has since been confirmed by Entertainment Weekly.

Therefore we have time as a community to work towards having an actual Native American cast as the character of Leah for the next installment, "Eclipse" where she is slated to be a much more prominent character and will by then be a werewolf.

If you want to keep track of the casting for the next installment of Eclipse, or if the screenwriter's own words that were stated and confirmed nearly two weeks ago now aren't enough, go to Google and use keywords such as Leah, "New Moon" (it will help your search to put it into quotes) also searches that are more specific such as "Leah not in 'New Moon'" will help you out and provide a laundry list of sites and information on who's handling casting, and much more.

Maybe NativeVue Film & Media (http://www.NativeVue.org) will dedicate a page to adding names of potential Native American actresses for the role of Leah for "Eclipse." One stop shopping for the casting director, production company and director to find suitable young women for the role in the next installment.

Every blog out there that does actually mention a Native American young woman actually playing this young character...all mention Q'orianka Kilcher of course, she's a fabulous choice as would be so many others.

We have the talent, union and non, ready to go. Not hiding anywhere.

Tara J. Ryan

*Source - http://www.twilightlexiconblog.com/index .php/2009/01/13/vanessa-hudgensone-more- time-with-feeling/

Anonymous said...

I agree. They replaced Solomon!! NO!!! When? He was terrific. I loved him. What is wrong with them! I like Taylor L (seems like a good kid and worked his butt off to gain the muscle mass required for Jacob part) but I agree the part should have gone to a native. Should be outraged... Don't tell me they are also replacing Krys as Embry too... You are completely right this is all just wrong. Very wrong. I am not native but I still agree ALL of these parts should gone to native actors. Period. Hollywood stinks.

Anonymous said...

Although I agree with the overall ideas, Vanessa Hudgens does actually have some Native American blood on her father's side, and is not fully Filipino.

Anonymous said...

the Gaza situation is messed up. But, if you did your homework you would know that genocide against against native americans has been waged since white europeans landed here. Now, the media wants to manipulate images and ideas, and silence people. Hence, movies like twilight that offer images of native americans portrayed by filipinos and whites. and these native americans are the creations of hollywood writers, directors, and agents. Many of whom are jewish. so the same people who are bombing Gaza are the same people who are silencing the true voice and image of a people through mass media. Why see real native americans when you can have an instant indian on screen via the philippines. As a Spanish/Navajo I see this as continual attack on my culture. another way to keep us down and silent. It's not about the movie. This movie is just the blatant catalyst for us to say screw this.