August 10, 2010

Fans still ignorant about Quileutes

'Twilight' leads Quileute tribe to help museum tell its true story

The goal of a new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum is simple: to set the record straight after the Quileute Tribe's international exposure in the vampire-themed "Twilight" books and films, in which tribal members are depicted as teen werewolves provoked into snarling fits of temper.

By Lynda V. Mapes
"A lot of elders are hurt because we were portrayed as werewolves, and they didn't want us portrayed as these wild Indians, they want people to know we are not these crazy Indians that change into werewolves when we get mad. We settle our differences peacefully.

"Our council was getting a lot of flak from our elders, saying 'Show them the real Quileute, not this Hollywood Quileute.' "

She is bemused by some of the "Twilight" tourists visiting the reservation.

"They didn't think real Quileutes actually existed; they just thought somebody made it up. It's, 'Oh my God, we got to see real Quileutes and the guys could be in the movie, they are so buff, why did they even use actors?'"
Comment:  This is what happens when you grossly fictionalize the reality. People recognize the artifice and discount it--all of it. "Indians vanished long ago," they think. "And these Quileute werewolves are obviously phony. People don't change into wolves, fight savagely against vampires, or go around shirtless in cold weather. Therefore, the Quileute tribe doesn't exist. It's a figment of Stephenie Meyer's imagination."

We also see hints of the "werewolf = savage" meme. The writer says the fictional Indians display "snarling fits of temper." The Quileute think the movies are portraying them as "wild" and "crazy." In other words, the Quileute werewolf is an update of the stereotypical noble savage. Twilight is reinforcing the age-old belief that Indians are fierce, predatory animals.

For more on the museum exhibit, see Quileute Exhibit at Seattle Art Museum. For more on the effects of the Twilight movies, see Native Beliefs = Werewolf Story?, Media Doesn't Know Quileutes Are Real, and Twilight Readers Forget Quileutes.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

So much would have been done to alleviate the confusion and set the record straight if Meyers had included a couple of pages as an appendix in one or two of her books with "this is what the real Quileutes ARE like, compared to my fictional spin on them".