May 30, 2008

Indiana Jones tribe found?

Rare uncontacted Amazon tribe photographed

Images show Indians painted bright red, brandishing bows and arrowsAmazon Indians from one of the world's last uncontacted tribes have been photographed from the air, with striking images released on Thursday showing them painted bright red and brandishing bows and arrows.

The photographs of the tribe near the border between Brazil and Peru are rare evidence that such groups exist. A Brazilian official involved in the expedition said many of them are in increasing danger from illegal logging.

"What is happening in this region is a monumental crime against the natural world, the tribes, the fauna and is further testimony to the complete irrationality with which we, the 'civilized' ones, treat the world," Jose Carlos Meirelles was quoted as saying in a statement by the Survival International group.
Uncontacted Indian tribe spotted in Brazil

Comment:  Oops, wrong tribe. False alarm. Never mind.

This "lost" tribe has only thatched huts, not massive stone temples. But how do we explain how they've managed to stay hidden? Maybe they're hiding their gold treasure and crystal skulls with their mystical-cosmic magic.

Has any archaeologist ever discovered a lost kingdom or city or temple? I mean one with monumental architecture that an unknown people still inhabited? If so, when was this discovery?

If not, where exactly did this stereotype come from? And why are we still talking about it? Aren't we a little old to be daydreaming of imaginary cities of gold?

I think genies, mermaids, and unicorns are nice too, but I don't see them in any pseudo-realistic movie about archaeology. Only Indians get stereotyped this way. Only they get associated with fantasy motifs even though they're real.

I don't recall any modern-day movies featuring primitive Africans or Asians guarding secrets in ruins--except Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, of course. But this is all too common in Native-themed movies. Stereotyping Indians is the last acceptable prejudice.

We see this again and again and again. Americans wouldn't accept sports teams named Chinks or Wetbacks, but Redskins and Braves are okay. They wouldn't accept a beer or strip club named Martin Luther King, but naming it Crazy Horse is okay. They wouldn't accept statues of half-naked Zulu warriors, but half-naked Lakota warriors are okay. Etc.

These things are connected. And movies like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull only perpetuate the problem. Fortunately, we can read the news (above) and learn what "lost" tribes are really like.

For more on the subject, see Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom.


writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Obviously, then, you never saw the 1950 KING SOLOMON'S MINES or its 1985 remake or even the 1976 version called KING SOLOMON'S TREASURE. And somehow you missed Arch Oboler's 1951 film FIVE, the 1956 film THE MOLE PEOPLE, two versions of H. Rider Haggard's SHE made in 1965 and 1985, Disney's 1974 THE ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD, Harlan Ellison's 1975 A BOY AND HIS DOG, Robert Altman's 1979 QUINTET, J. Michael Crichton's 1995 CONGO, Sean Connery's 2003 THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, or even 2003's remake of KING KONG. All depicted primitive Africans or South Sea islanders or even EuroMen living in ruins and guarding secrets. Supposedly, 'critics' claim to see all movies but maybe those baker's dozen of films never played in Culver City...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

I haven't seen any of these movies except the remake of King Kong. Nevertheless, I covered your point when I wrote, "I don't recall any modern-day movies featuring primitive Africans or Asians guarding secrets in ruins." Repeat: Modern-day.

We could argue what "modern-day" means. But surely it excludes any movie set before the 20th century. That leaves out most of the films you cited.

Normally I'd say it means the present, or at least the 21st century. But I stretched the term to encompass WW II and the Atomic Age. Why? Because that's when many experts would say a truly modern, global civilization began.

By my definition, therefore, "modern-day" includes the Indiana Jones films but excludes most if not all of your suggestions. Which is why I phrased my posting the way I did. Too bad you didn't read it as carefully as I wrote it.

P.S. I haven't seen Congo, but I've read the book. Didn't that feature a society of intelligent apes? Sorry, I wasn't counting African animals when I referred to "Africans." Try again.

Rob said...

You're the advocate of box-office receipts over critical reviews. Were any of your movies a big success? If not, they undoubtedly had little or no impact on the popular culture.

Which is why I said I "don't recall" them. I'm sure you could find all sorts of worthless potboilers featuring modern-day but primitive Africans or Asians. But unless they rise to the level of common knowledge--like King Kong or the Indiana Jones movies--don't bother listing them.

Your claim that critics claim to see "all movies" is a stupid straw-man argument. I haven't claimed that I've seen every Native-themed movie, or that I need to see them. I haven't and I don't.

If I don't know something, I rely on other critics or cultural experts. That way I don't have to know everything. I can come to perfectly good conclusions based on my substantial but incomplete knowledge of the field.

Of course, I've explained all this to you before. Not surprisingly, you still haven't grasped it. Since you remain clueless about the requirements of criticism, read this and educate yourself.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Geez, 1995 must have been so-o-o-o Twentieth Century, and what has 2003 done for us lately?
In this matter, writerfella never mentioned word one about box office receipts. The drought in Culver City must be making for mirages or pseudo-clairaudio.
And to writerfella, there is no zero. Those movies still exist...
All Best
Russ Bates

Rob said...

If I had mentioned Renaissance movies, would you think I meant movies made in the 15th century? If I had mentioned old Westerns, would you think I meant movies made in the old West (the pre-Civil War 19th century)? Obviously not. In this context, I'm obviously talking about when the stories were set, not when the movies were made. (That's why I used the word "set" in my first response.)

I mentioned box-office receipts because that's your usual response whenever someone criticizes a movie. If a movie doesn't earn a lot, you don't think it's significant. By your standard, therefore, the financial success or failure of the movies you listed is relevant. So tell us...were any of these forgettable flicks a hit?

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Your wish is my command. Apparently, after consulting Box Office Mojo and other sources, FIVE and the 1950 KING SOLOMON'S MINES and 1956's THE MOLE PEOPLE were too early to be tracked. KING SOLOMON'S TREASURE is unreported. The 1985 KING SOLOMON'S MINES made a paltry $15 million domestic but picked up $87 million foreign. Both versions of SHE were British and not available for tracking. 1974's THE ISLAND AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD was Disney and its grosses are unreported (read: flop). A BOY AND HIS DOG was an Indie from L. Q. Jones Productions, which later was charged by the IRS with underreporting its grosses (read: hit). QUINTET was one of Robert Altman's critical successes but box office disappointments (COUNTDOWN, BREWSTER MCCLOUD, THE LONG GOODBYE, BUFFALO BILL & THE INDIANS, POPEYE, IMAGES, etc.). However --
1995's CONGO made $81,022,101 domestic and $71,000,000 foreign for a total of $152 millions. 2003's THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN made $66,000,000 domestic and $112,800,000 foreign for a total of $179 millions. And 2003's remake of KING KONG made $218,000,000 domestic and $332,000,000 foreign for a total of $550 millions.
Boy, if you had seen the KING KONG remake, the heavens themselves would have resounded with your misapprehensions and misinterpretations about how the natives were presented and represented!
Of the baker's dozen, five go on toward your line in the sand and cross it. Make of those as you will or will o' the wisp...
All Best
Russ Bates

Anonymous said...

I think you are generalizing a little too much. The India Jones movies are known for adding some bits of mysticism into their plot. Whether it is christian(Ark Of The Covenant), Asian(Temple of Doom), or Native American. It has nothing to do with them being racist. Now, don't get me wrong, I do beleive that our society, as a whole, is very stupid when it comes to knowing the history of the people that they over ran, but then again, who gets to write the text books? The people who win the wars. So it looks like all you can do is complain on a blog that nobody important enough to do anything about, will read. OR, you can start trying to make a change. How to do that? I have no clue, but it is better than just complaining about how innacurate movies that mean absolutely nothing are.

Rob said...

If only my wish were your command, Russ. Then you'd answer more than one question in a hundred.

I don't know where you got the foreign gross for King Solomon's Mines from. It isn't listed at Box Office Mojo. Neither is the budget. Without that, you can't assert the movie was a hit with any confidence.

Your guess about A Boy and His Dog's success is just that...a guess. Moreover, from what I read, A Boy and His Dog involves a post-apocalyptic underground civilization. That has nothing to do with the topic at hand: primitive African or Asian kingdoms set in the modern-day era.

Congo and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were hits only if you include the foreign gross. Foreign audiences don't affect the perceptions of US audiences. Relatively few Americans saw these movies' portrayals of primitive civilizations. They had little or no effect on our popular culture.

To reiterate my point: None of your movies presented a primitive human civilization set in the modern-day era. None had the impact of the mega-popular Indiana Jones series. Raiders of the Lost Ark probably taught us more falsehoods about anthropology and archaeology than the movies you listed combined.

P.S. As usual, you were foolish to question me. Better luck next time, chum(p).

Rob said...

Nate, see Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom for my thoughts on the racism and stereotyping in Spielberg's movies.

Who says I'm doing nothing but complaining? Did you miss the whole point of the Blue Corn Comics website? FYI, I'm creating Native American comic books as well as writing this blog.

But your implication that someone has to participate in something before criticizing it is just plain dumb. For instance, have you fought in Iraq? No? Then I guess you can't criticize the war in Iraq.

Have you run for president? No? Then you can't criticize President Bush. Played professional sports? No? Then you can't criticize your favorite pro team. Had a sex-change operation? No? Then you can't criticize anything a woman says or does.

I could go on, but I trust I've ridiculed your position enough. Let me know if you need me to ridicule it further. I'll be glad to oblige.

Are you seriously claiming movies don't affect public opinion? Do you also think television and advertising don't affect public opinion? Ri-i-ght. No one's ever bought a product or changed a lifestyle because of something seen on a screen or page. How naive can you get?

Unless you're a filmmaker, you have no business offering an opinion on film's influence. According to your silly theory, that is. But Native artists know better, and they disagree. Here's what one has to say on the subject:

"Second to religion, I think movies have been the most damaging thing to Indians."

--Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho), filmmaker, quoted in Indian Country Today, 4/20/02