Alexie: There are no stereotypes of anybody, really. The stereotypes wouldn’t exist if they weren’t by some large measure true. That’s one of the jokes I tell, you know? White guys do want to own everything and Indians do have a problem with alcohol. You are a bunch of imperialistic bastards, that’s not a stereotype. And we do have issues with addiction, and unemployment, and time. You know, any group of people is viewed a lot more simplistically when you start talking about large groups. And mass media is in charge of that, again. So it’s not like white guys get off easy with media; it’s just that (Natives) have nobody originating the images.
That’s one of the real problems, that we have no voice of our own in the mass media…There is a lot of magic and beauty about us that isn’t accurately discussed. It has nothing to do with our religions, it’s actually more complicated than that. I don’t think anybody’s religion is all that cute. I think our tolerance of eccentricity, our senses of humor—those are the kinds of cultural aspects that don’t necessarily get covered fully.
In my PEACE PARTY comics, I try to convey things like the Native tolerance of eccentricity and sense of humor. Readers can judge whether I succeed or not.
Alexie: It was simply driven out of my love of movies. But that, more than any artistic endeavor, is completely driven by money and the size of the audience. And we don’t have an audience. Every Indian in the country could go see a movie and it wouldn’t guarantee anything. It would make a box office of $14 million, which is nothing. Paul Blart: Mall Cop made that in four hours on a Saturday afternoon.
Really, there’s no point. Indian people talk to me now about filmmaking, and I tell them you can buy those little HD cameras now for about $190. And you can have Final Cut on your laptop for $400. And those little tapes will cost you $30-$40 a piece. Make your own movie. Put it online. Give up on the whole Hollywood thing. Stay away. If you’re an Indian actor, you’re going to end up in a loincloth, and if you’re an Indian writer or director, you’re going to end up in a metaphorical loincloth.
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies and All About Sherman Alexie.