January 12, 2016

DiCaprio's speech isn't enough

Leonardo DiCaprio Ended His Golden Globes Speech With a Cynical Remark About Indigenous Peoples

By Aisha HarrisWhat makes this moment so awkward and cynical is the fact that it’s so at odds with the movie DiCaprio and director Alejandro González Iñárritu produced. The Revenant is only the latest in a long history of major Hollywood studio films featuring indigenous characters that is told from the white male perspective. Their history is only “recognized” here in marginal juxtaposition to that of a white fur trader who is mauled by a bear, left to die, and then seeks revenge for the murder of his half-indigenous son (who barely says more than a few lines in the entire movie). The Pawnee tribesman (played by Arthur RedCloud) who later assists him in his journey home? He's much more a mysterious, kind person of color than any real, flesh-and-bone character. And while the film employed Native American performers from a dozen reserves in Alberta, those performers have, needless to say, not been the focus of the film's publicity or awards campaign, though DiCaprio has credited RedCloud with helping to psych him up to eat that bison liver.

Does DiCaprio believe in this cause? I'm sure he does. Does his movie have anything, truly, to do with this cause? Nope. But it's awards season, so sincerity doesn't matter. Cynically hitching your movie to a cause everyone can get behind—that matters.
Indigenous People’s Stories Need More Than Just Leonardo DiCaprio’s Speech

By Ryan McMahonEvery representation matters in 2016 because we've never controlled what we, as Indigenous peoples, look/sound like to the mainstream. In 2016, it's time the world to step back from the historical "white gaze of Hollywood" and allow Indigenous peoples to tell them who they are. There are brilliant Indigenous writers and filmmakers chomping at the bit to work with budgets, studios and resources to tell the stories in our own words.

Leo, if you're serious about Indigenous representations and it being time to hear Indigenous stories, I can introduce you to some people.
Leonardo Dicaprio Recognizes 1st Nations in Golden Globe Speech

By Chase Iron EyesThat is good but that is not our narrative. Those are not our awards. We are objects in that arena; the camera is directed at us not by us. We are consistently dressed out of time and out of place for their marketability, indeed our marketability as well. Our place in their media is as our ancestors pre-1900: feathers, leathers, plains-people the whole bit. That’s where we fit as Reel Injuns. We’ll keep taking those roles, that’s part of our survival and evolution. Much could be said about the portrayal of Natives in The Revenant or the very act of celebrating other people in idolatrous fashion when Natives show more allegiance to NFL teams than their own Tribal Nations but that’s none of my business.

We clamor to any recognition given where previously we have been ignored, or objectified. Look at all the Natives clawing at DiCaprio to leech of any social capital even mentioning his name will bring much less asking DiCaprio to recognize them. Reminds me of those hordes of Natives clamoring for a picture of President Obama because he hosted Tribal Nation conferences. These are huge steps no doubt but steps whose true character must be appreciated, must be kept in perspective when our great-grandfathers refused to even meet the President of the United States.
Comment:  For more on Leonardo DiCaprio, see Mixed Reactions to DiCaprio's Speech and DiCaprio's Golden Globes Speech.

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