December 28, 2013

Playing Indian in Lassie

The Land Grabber episode of Lassie (airdate: November 22, 1959) opens with Timmy playing "Indian." He wears a headband with a single feather. He has spots on each cheek, two stripes on each arm, and a V on his chest.

He does a fake bird call to summon Lassie. Then he "stalks" his father Paul, shooting a suction-cup arrow into the truck Paul is loading.

The following exchange ensues:PAUL [raises hands]: Me surrender.

TIMMY [dances around Paul]: Me want'um scalp! Me want'um scalp! Me want'um scalp! Me want'um scalp!

PAUL: Okay, me surrender!

RUTH [approaches, laughing]: Listen, you cowboys and Indians. You'd better watch the time.

PAUL: That's right! We've got the church supper tonight.

TIMMY: Oh, boy! A church supper!

PAUL: I'll be in as soon as I get these tomatoes loaded. I've gotta get 'em ready to get to market tonight.

RUTH: Oh, Paul, do you have to drive them in tonight?

PAUL: We've got bills to pay, remember?

RUTH [chuckling]: I wish I could forget.

RUTH [to Timmy]: All right now, big chief. Uh, please put'um heap big bow and arrow away and wash'um dirt from face.
Comment:  You can see several Tonto-style stereotypes here. This is what people thought Indians were like in 1959.

And not much has changed. I doubt the average American would object to this, or even notice anything wrong, in 2014.

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