April 24, 2015

Sandler crew "bronzed" Navajo actress

Navajo Actress Explains Why She Left Adam Sandler 'Ridiculous 6' Set

"That's not comedy when it comes to Native American stereotypes because we're always portrayed as the 'drunk Indian,' and that's just perpetuating those stereotypes," Allie Young says

By Daniel Kreps
After a dozen Native Americans hired to play extras on Adam Sandler's Netflix-produced western Ridiculous 6 ditched the set, one Navajo actress named Allie Young sat down with MSNBC to discuss the many reasons why they decided to leave the production. In addition to the script that they found offensive and disrespectful, the extras felt that the comedy–a play on The Magnificent Seven–furthered century-old stereotypes about Native Americans, Mediate reports.

"I'm full-blooded Navajo and they bronzed me. I was quite confused," Young said of the makeup department darkening her skin to make her look more stereotypically like a Native American. Young also revealed that the film's cultural consultant was the first person to leave the set. "That says something when the cultural advisor for the film quits because he's offended," she said.

Much has been made of the script giving characters names like "Beaver Breath" and "No Bra," but that was just the tip of how offensively the production viewed Native American women. "There was one instance where one of the Native American women, played by a white actress, is passed out on the ground and the group of white men are throwing liquor on her and she jumps up and starts dancing with everybody else," Young says of her breaking point to leave the film. "That's not comedy when it comes to Native American stereotypes because we're always portrayed as the 'drunk Indian,' and that's just perpetuating those stereotypes."
We Talked to a Native American Actress Who Walked Off Adam Sandler's Movie

By Zach SchonfeldIn a conversation with Newsweek, extra Allie Young, who is full-blooded Navajo, explained why she objected to the film, which has been picked up to premiere on Netflix next year.

"I take this very personally because my little brother committed suicide when he was 17 because of racism," Young said. "In his suicide note, he said, 'It's hard to stay alive when you're brown and gifted.' I want to take a stand for native and indigenous youth. I want them to see their people portrayed as something better."

An aspiring screenwriter and founder of the Survival of the First Voices festival, Young researched Hollywood depictions of Native Americans when she was a student at Dartmouth. She jumped at the chance to be an extra in The Ridiculous Six because she wanted to see how things had changed. She soon realized they hadn't much at all.

"At one point early on I was going in to makeup and being bronzed, and the wardrobe was not Apache traditional wear," Young explained. "I'm full-blooded Navajo. I was a little bit confused as to why I was being bronzed. I'm light-skinned. Maybe they wanted me to look darker."

The script posed more issues, including offensive names for indigenous women, like "Beaver's Breath" and "Wears No Bra." In one scene, a Native American women is passed out on the ground. A group of white men pours liquor on her, and she wakes up and starts dancing. "In Indian country, we're battling that issue right now," Young said. "It's 2.5 times more likely for an indigenous woman to be raped or sexually assaulted. Movies like this perpetuate that and just add to the stereotypes of our native women."
Comment:  A full-blooded Navajo made darker? Subjected to "redface" even though she's already "red"?

How exactly does this contribute to Sandler's "humor"? Answer: It doesn't.

It's clearly an attempt to make the Indians stranger and more exotic. That is, to make them less human and more animal-like. To "other" them.

There's no explanation for this other than racism. Indians look dark, according to the filmmakers, and white people don't. Which is why activists have rightly labeled Adam Sandler and Netflix racist.

For more on Adam Sandler, see Natives Quit Adam Sandler Movie.

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