Blogger Adrienne Keene's reaction was fairly typical:
Johnny Depp as Cultural Appropriation Jack Sparrow...I mean Tonto
He looks like they just took the Captain Jack Sparrow costume and removed the pirate hat, put a bird on it, and added some menacing facepaint. Or wait, they already did that:
Excellent post. Infuriating Depp. Put a bird on it....Grrrrr.
Stomach in knots. Ugh...
Dear Mr. Depp ... this isn't the Neverland thing, OK? What a sad joke on us ... I reject anyone who says they couldn't find an Indian actor to play that role. Not in 2012. Choke on your box office, assholes.
I seriously cringed when I saw this photo pop up on my news feed.
Reactions from a posting on the NativeCelebs page I help manage:
I'm totally speechless. I'm still trying to find the words to cover up my shocked expression and push my chin back up from the floor...
Wtf died on his head? I like Johhny Depp but he looks like he's going to a New England powwow.
I am Comanche and find that very offensive.
Hollywood at its worst!
Yeah, being from Apache ancestry, I am pretty insulted. And yes after reading the native posting, it looks like they took Depp off the Pirates production and just changed his hat for a freaking bird.
I have some Apache far back down the line but even if I didn't I think this in just insulting. It is just Hollywood wanting a big name actor in a film to try and draw intrest for a film that probably wouldn't have a very big draw otherwise. Disgusting.
I don't care who he's supposed to be...from today on...for me, he's an idiot.
Johnny Depp is not enrolled in any of the three federally recognized Cherokee groups. Disney puts out press-releases saying iksh like that to justify not hiring us real natives. And look what is heading to the big screen: a crow taking a shit on top of a gay, white pirate.
So a pretend Cherokee is playing a supposed Comanche character that was originally Pottawatomi but made out to be like an Apache and still playing sidekick to a white guy? Damn Hollywood has some good special effects these days!
Depp's Tonto is supposed to be Comanche. This may be an authentic Native look, but I doubt it's Comanche. The bandanna looks Apache, for instance, not Comanche. I also doubt an Indian would wear a headdress and warpaint as his everyday look.
Even if Tonto's look is 100% authentic, it's not a standard look for someone going about his business. It makes Tonto look freakish, like an unnatural "other," not like a regular guy.
Let's hope he wears this outfit only occasionally in the movie. Like when he's going to war. If this is his default look, it's probably a bad sign.
For more on the subject, see Lone Ranger Movie Rides Again and Depp Unsure of His Native Ancestry.