April 25, 2013

Hammer says Indians love Depp

Armie Hammer apparently talked to some Natives who love Lone Ranger

By Adrienne KeeneOh Armie Hammer. The guy who played twins in The Social Network, the guy who’s name sounds like baking soda. Now he’s playing the Lone Ranger opposite our good friend Johnny Depp as Tonto, and recently he said in an interview about the movie that all the Natives he talked to were SO SUPER STOKED that the film was being made. Guys, that’s the movie equivalent of “but I have a black friend!”

Here’s his quote in the LA Times, defending the casting of Tonto, saying there were plenty Natives he talked to who loved it, and only white people were upset:They were nothing but excited about it. They loved it—they’re thrilled. It’s so funny, because every Native American we talked to was like, ‘This is awesome! I’m so excited.’ And every white person we talked to was like, ‘How dare you cast a non-Native American?’ It’s like, the white people are the one who have the problem, but the Indians—the Native Americans—are like, ‘This is great. We love it.’
Adrienne addresses the casting issue, but says it may be the lesser offense compared to Depp's portrayal. She continues:The second part really bothered me as well–that only “white people” were complaining about the movie. I’m sorry dude, but I know PLENTY of Indians that are not happy with this film. Circling back to our invisibility, just because the white voices are louder and get more publicity, doesn’t mean that we aren’t pissed off too. And I’m sorry, if “every white person” you talked to had an issue with the film, you might want to listen. Additionally, if the only Indians that you talked to were the ones getting paid by your film or from the reservation benefitting economically from your film’s presence, you might want to rethink your sampling method there. The comment also just feels so patronizing–”but the Indians love it!”–and invited a host of comments on the LA Times and others about the “whiny, overly sensitive, hyper ‘PC’” culture we live in. Which is nothing new, but still no fun.

This film is going to be a mess. There’s no two ways about it. Every picture that has been released, every trailer where we hear more of JD’s horrible Indian-pirate-I-don’t-even-know-what accent, I roll my eyes even harder. They’re clearly realizing that this was maybe not the best idea, given JD’s sudden interest in Indian Country and Indian causes, and all these super defensive comments coming out. I feel like they’re on a damage control tour.

So in conclusion:

Hey Armie Hammer–I’m an Indian, and I’m mad about this film. I think Depp’s choices around Tonto’s costuming and speech are demeaning, stereotypical, and set us back a bunch of years in the small gains we’ve made in Hollywood. I don’t feel “honored” that Johnny has decided to make Tonto less of a sidekick and more of a main character. I don’t appreciate that Native protest against this film has been all but ignored. I’m glad you chatted with some Indians, but I’d encourage you to chat with a few more. Because I can promise you not all of us are “thrilled” about the Lone Ranger.
At least one non-Native writer had a similar reaction:

Armie Hammer says he talked to some Indians and Johnny Depp’s bird hat is totally cool

By Vince ManciniI don’t think it’s always wrong for a white actor to play a non-white role, but if you’re an American Indian actor or an actor from another historically marginalized group, I can understand why you’d be pissed about one of the precious few roles specifically tailored to you going to a white dude. (Though for what it’s worth, Depp does describe his great grandmother as “quite a bit of a Native American.”). Meanwhile, Depp’s Lone Ranger co-star Armie Hammer, possibly the whitest man alive, says it wasn’t an issue at all, because the American Indians they talked to during filming (some of them paid consultants, presumably) all thought his kemosabe’s kabuki was hunky-dory. Hakuna matata and all that shit.And:On a serious note, Armie Hammer has to walk a delicate line defending the dubious decisions of people cutting him a huge paycheck, and as such it’s all but impossible for him not to say the occasional kinda dumb thing. I don’t have a problem with Johnny Depp playing an American Indian (not that it’s my place to…), but I do think it’s hilarious to watch them try to spin Johnny Depp starring in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie as some kind of tribute to the proud American Indian peoples. That’s basically like McDonalds calling their breakfast burritos a show of solidarity with the Latino community.Comment:  For more on Johnny Depp, see Little Criticism of Depp's Tonto?! and Michelle Shining Elk on Johnny Depp.


Anonymous said...

You'd be surprised. I've heard people tell me Victoria's Secret's headdresses were about the beauty of Indian women. (Why they're wearing an accessory for a high-ranking Lakota man, I have no idea.)

dmarks said...

The army tool is this year's Taylor Kitsch. And the fake angry bird hat Indian he has as his sidekick is even less realistic than Kitch's giant grasshopper buddy.