June 26, 2009

The Sun Sets on Twilight

Outta Your Backpack Media--a mouse that roars

Flagstaff youth project attracting national attention

By S.J. Wilson
Camille Tso (13 years old, and OYBMedia's youngest mentor), who appeared prominently in the made-for-television epic "Into the West," has enjoyed being on the other side of the camera. Tso explained the storyline of her group's film, The Sun Sets on Twilight--which highlights the controversy over the Twilight film series that used a spray-painted non-Native actor (Taylor Lautner) to play the Jacob Black character, a member of the Quileutes Tribe. (Flagstaff actor and dancer Nakota LaRance read for the part.)

"It started with Chihuahuas taking over the world and using celebrities as their minions," Tso laughed. Then, moving on to the popular Twilight film, Tso said that "Jacob Black would be like (pantomiming a paw slashing the air) 'Raaaaahhhhhr, I'm a werewolf,' and he would be controlling Edward Cullen--but then we found that [our script] had no message to it.

"So then I told about some stories that I learned from a friend of mine, who is Quileutes; she told me about how Summit Entertainment (the company that filmed "Twilight") made over four million dollars and they only paid the Quileutes Tribe a thousand dollars to film on their reservation, so we wanted to make a story because Jacob Black is supposed to be a Native, so we kind of wanted to overdramatize that, while making it funny and serious at the same time."

The controversy highlights one of the frustrations of being a Native American actor--sparse roles, stereotypical characters--and the fact that Native actors are passed over for roles in mainstream films--such as FBI agents, waitresses, race car drivers, or astronauts.
Comment:  It's the Quileute tribe, not the "Quileutes" tribe.

I hadn't heard that the Twilight people did any filming on the Quileute reservation. But for using their identity and culture, one could argue the Quileutes deserved a lot more than $1,000.

I also hadn't heard that Lautner was spray-painted to look like a Native. He's naturally tan, and he didn't look any darker in Twilight than he did in, say, My Worst Enemy.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not the only one talking about this controversy. I'd like to see what The Sun Sets on Twilight has to say about it.

Below:  "Raaaaahhhhhr, I'm a werewolf!"

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