You know it's bad when you see how "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" is his most empathetic recent comedy
By Matthew Rozsa
As the moviegoing world learned last week, roughly a dozen Native American actors walked off the set of Sandler’s upcoming comedy “The Ridiculous Six” to protest his depiction of Apaches. Among other things, they were offended by the various vulgar puns used as character names (e.g., Beaver’s Breath, No Bra, Sits-on-Face), a scene in which a Native American woman is shown squatting down to urinate while smoking a peace pipe, and the fact that the costumes resorted to visual stereotypes instead of accurately representing how Apaches looked. The inevitable hashtag movement protesting the film sums up the fundamental complaint rather succinctly: #NotYourHollywoodIndian
This isn’t the first time that Sandler’s movies have contained insulting racial characterizations. A short list of comparable controversies would include frequent Sandler collaborator Rob Schneider donning yellow face to play native Hawaiian and Japanese characters in “50 First Dates” and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” (although Schneider is of Filipino ancestry himself, that doesn’t excuse him using garish make-up and mugging to ridicule other Asian ethnic groups), the caricatures passed off as Mexican-American characters in “Jack and Jill” (such as a grotesque elderly Mexican woman being knocked out and revived with jalapenos and a gardener who makes racially self-disparaging comments before adding, “Just kidding”), or the various insulting tropes about Africans from “Blended” (described by one South African reviewer as depicting native Africans as “oversexed and leering, bumbling and inarticulate, or just bone lazy”). While all of these problems were noticed at the time those films were released, none received a great deal of attention because the business and creative personnel involved in producing those movies apparently, for the most part, toed the line—which, incidentally, is one more reason to applaud the Native Americans who walked off the set to publicly demonstrate their unwillingness to play along.
Although it is tempting to defend “The Ridiculous Six” along the lines used by cast member Vanilla Ice (“It’s a comedy. I don’t think anybody really had any ill feeling or any intent or anything. This movie isn’t ‘Dances With Wolves.’ It’s a comedy.”), it’s important to remember that comedy can promote discriminatory attitudes. The minstrel shows of Jim Crow America or anti-Semitic burlesques in Third Reich Germany did more than make audiences laugh. By perpetuating popular stereotypes, they reinforced the idea that certain groups of people were inherently different, with each individual being easily reducible to a handful of traits commonly associated with others who shared their background.
By Michael Phillips
As the title of Bob Hope’s final starring vehicle put it: Cancel my reservation.
This much is clear. People of color, to say nothing of women, who have been marginalized, patronized or humiliated by a stupid joke in an Adam Sandler movie over the last few years constitute the biggest club in modern Hollywood. And until last week, that club was one of the least heralded, if only because its members have been putting up with the demeaning treatment for a century.
We routinely give comedy, and comedians, a pass because (according to the traditional argument) you can’t get a laugh without offending somebody. One person’s edgy winner (“Borat,” for example) is another’s cause for outrage.
But something has been bubbling beneath the surface of too many Sandler comedies in recent years, a cold, mean-spirited smugness reeking of unexamined white-male privilege.
By Michael E. Miller
Republican 'Actor' Adam Sandler Offends Native Americans
Many don't realize Sandler is a registered Republican. He even performed at the 2004 RNC Convention in New York City. You remember that, the celebration of four more years of George W. Bush, what a guy! The fact that he's more comfortable with his political leanings seem to be inversely proportional to his attempts at humor. I'll admit, I liked movies like Billy Madison, but his attempt at making humor out of a teacher/student sex scandal in That's My Boy, was disastrous at best.
For more on Adam Sandler, see Ridiculous 6 Adviser Speaks Out and Should Natives Boycott Netflix?