June 11, 2009

Chief Ron lies about gaming

Reprehensible! Chief Ron, a movie that was just announced, will turn an Indian wannabe convicted of perjury into a noble chief fighting for his people.

Universal, Imagine roll dice on 'Ron'

Justin Theroux to direct casino comedyUniversal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment have set Justin Theroux to direct "Chief Ron."

The Jordan Roberts-scripted comedy concerns a conman who claims Mohegan ancestry in an attempt to open a casino.

Brian Grazer is producing.

The comedy's inspiration is the true story of Chief Ron Roberts. His blonde hair and blue eyes raised skepticism over his ancestral claims but he prevailed in court and is now building a casino in upstate New York.
Justin Theroux To Direct Chief Ron

Comedy about an unlikely casino ownerThe rise of Justin Theroux continues with the news that the Iron Man 2 screenwriter has signed on to direct Universal and Imagine’s comedy, Chief Ron.

Vaguely based on the true-life story of Chief Ron Roberts, a blond-haired, blue-eyed American who claimed Native American ancestry in a successful attempt to open a casino in upstate New York (gaming laws in the US are relaxed for several Native American tribes), Chief Ron will focus on a conman who claims Mohegan ancestry in an attempt to do the same.

First things first: let’s point out that the real Chief Ron isn’t a conman, and won his battle in court. Secondly: this has decent potential. It’ll be interesting to see what Theroux can do with it.
Most websites are repeating the information in the Variety article. Not only is the movie based on a true story, they're saying, but the ending is true also. Chief Ron "prevailed in court and is now building a casino in upstate New York."

As a couple of sites noted, that's the exact opposite of the truth:

Universal Pictures Selects Director For Mohegan MovieThe movie is a comedy to be directed by Justin Theroux and is based on the true story of Ron Roberts who tried to get recognition for a group that calls itself the Western Mohegan Tribe of New York. The movie deviates from the facts by portraying the Western Mohegan Tribe as succeeding in the courtroom and being allowed to build the casino in upstate New York. The script was written by Jordan Roberts. It is not known if there is any relation between the writer and Ron Roberts.Justin Theroux Will Direct ‘Chief Ron’Roberts’ blond hair and blue eyes led many to doubt his story, despite him possessing genealogical proof spanning eight generations. Roberts ultimately ended up pleading guilty to forging those historical documents and fabricating his Native American persona, though he narrowly escaped jail time. It sounds as though Theroux’s movie will fudge the facts a bit, with his own Chief Ron prevailing in court and getting his casino. Since the real Roberts disappeared from the news after being set free in 2004, perhaps he really did!Chief Ron "fudges" or "deviates from" the facts? That's the understatement of year. It's like saying Hitler fudged the facts about Jews.

How exactly will Chief Ron change the court's verdict from "guilty" to "not guilty"? That will require more than a little fact-fudging. To make "Chief Ron" a real Indian, the movie will have to change his past, the case he presented in court, the evidence against him--i.e., everything.

Chief Ron will tell a Hitler-style Big Lie about Indian gaming. It will reinforce one of the ugliest myths about the subject: that anyone can claim to be an Indian and open a casino. For Indians, it may be the worst public-relations nightmare since Time magazine's false and misleading "expose."

Here's the problem. Anti-Indian ideologues have called Indian gaming a fraud over and over. They've claimed the US government is recognizing phony "tribes" in a feel-good effort to salve America's conscience. That isn't true, but many people believe it is.

Showing this white (con)man winning his case will cause incalculable harm to tribes that are seeking or have achieved federal recognition. People will lump them with all the Indian wannabes and New Age frauds trying to scam the public. Meanwhile, legions of hucksters will crawl out of the woodwork and claim their "sovereign rights." Indians and wannabes will become even more interchangeable in people's eyes.

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

Below:  Mohegan Sun, the Connecticut casino owned by the real Mohegan tribe.


dmarks said...

Ron said: "This movie will tell a Hitler-style Big lie about Indian gaming"

I refer you to Godwin's law:

"The adage states: "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1....the law is now applied ....recently blog comment threads"

I myself think that there are places for Hitler comparisons, such as the discussion of genocide. Really, there's nothing Hitler-style about such lawsuits.

Stephen said...
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dmarks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephen said...
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Rob said...

I was referring to the "Big Lie" abstraction, not to a tangible person, place, or thing. Therefore, I think my Hitler reference was okay.

As for the other comments here, I deleted them because they weren't relevant to this item. If you want to know about them, see Educating Stephen About Obama.