By Adrienne Keene
So does that mean anything? Hooray, a movie didn’t win an Oscar for its brilliant use of redface? Not really, but it does bring to light some bigger issues. Before and during the Oscars, a group of Native activists organized a “twitter storm” using the hashtag #NotYourTonto to focus on the ongoing issues of misrepresentation of Native peoples in Hollywood. The series of tweets from everyone last night was really powerful, and shows how in 2014, the one-sided stereotypes that represent Native peoples in mainstream film really haven’t progressed at all. In 1973 Marlon Brando famously refused his Oscar and had Sacheen Littlefeather take the stage to protest the treatment of American Indians in Hollywood, and I think this portion of the speech, which didn’t air, is incredibly pertinent:
I think the answer to those unspoken questions is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.
#NotYourTonto Sparked an Internet Backlash for All the Right Reasons
By Andrea Garcia-Vargas
It seemed to work. As the Oscars got underway on Sunday, the hashtag began to really take off.
Soon, it was trending all over the U.S.
In fact, Keeler noted that by the end of the night 1.8 million people were involved.
For more on the subject, see Faux Indians at the 2014 Oscars and Before the #NotYourTonto Storm.