Episode number: 2x18
Production Number: 27028
Airdate: Thursday January 20th, 1966
Comment: Needless to say, this episode is ridiculous, for several reasons:
Indeed, when Herman discovers the tribal village, he says it's one of the "lost Indian tribes" he was reading about. Implying that normal Indian tribes don't exist anymore.
Romero's sidekick "Manikoo" is played by Len Lesser, a Jewish actor who often portrayed Eastern European types. Manikoo even sounds like a fast-talking hustler from New Jersey. It's a ridiculous characterization for an Indian.
The Indians reveal that they're 1960s hep cats who are just pretending to be traditionalists for the tourists. Apparently this is an attempt to inoculate the creators from charges of racist stereotyping.
In other words, the creators wanted to assure viewers they were "just kidding." Like any good hipsters these days, they presented the racism, then tried to wink it away. Like, "We wanted you to laugh at the Indians, but not to criticize us, because we know the faux Indians were laughable."
Wonga is uncertain about this gambit. Maybe Herman really will bring the tribe good fortune. If not, he says, the Indians can perform the marriage ceremony three times a day for the tourists.
The whole concept of the tribe as a tourist destination is ridiculous. What tourists? They're in the middle of nowhere, six miles from a lonely train station where no one stops. How could this possibly be a money-making venture?
The episode is a curiosity. On the one hand, it presents a traditional tribe based on dozens of the most blatant stereotypes. On the other, a couple of its Indians talk like regular people: modernists who mock their own traditions.
As I said before, it's like trying to have your cake and eat it too. But it signals a transition in movies and TV: from Indians as primitive people of the past to Indians who are nominally part of the present.
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