September 11, 2008

No Fridays as Indians?

Writer Russell Bates has made the incredibly ignorant claim that Robinson Crusoe's Friday is a Polynesian, not a Caribbean Indian. It took only a few seconds to disprove this ridiculous claim by quoting the book itself.

If anything, Russ's "argument" for his claim is even more absurd than the claim itself:If [your] standpoint is so cogent, logical, and even historical, then why has the character of Friday NEVER been portrayed as a Native American or by a Native American?Russ is so sure of this claim that he's made it four times. Yet it's nonsense on the face of it.

How stupid do you have to be to claim adaptations prove the identity of the original? If that were true, paintings of Jesus as a blue-eyed Caucasian would prove that he was one. Westerns with Italian and Greek actors playing Indians would prove that Indians really were Italians and Greeks. Etc.

Just to embarrass you further, Russ, let's note how fraudulent your "position" is:

For starters, IMDB lists 48 items (movies, TV shows, cartoons, and documentaries) with "Robinson Crusoe" in their titles. Unless you're a Crusoe fanatic, you haven't seen more than a couple of them. So spare us your worthless opinion that none of them have portrayed Friday as an Indian. You have no evidence for that claim; you're just making it up.

Latinos are part Indian

Also per IMDB, at least three actors with Latin(o) names have played Friday: Jaime Fernández (born in Mexico), Fabian Cevallos, and Ahuizotl Camacho. I'm not sure about Cevallos, but Fernández and Camacho are Latinos. That means they're part Indian by blood and heritage.

From John Ford's Westerns to Mel Gibson's Apocalypto, Latinos have played Indians thousands of times. Why? Because Latino is close enough to Indian for most mainstream filmmakers. If you want to portray an Indian but don't want to bother finding one, a Latino is the usual "solution."

We know Friday wasn't Latino. So why would a filmmaker use a Latino actor if he thought Friday was black or Polynesian? No reason. The only reason to use a Latino is to portray Friday as someone resembling a Latino--i.e., an Indian.

Moreover, "Ahuizotl" is a Nahuatl (Aztec) name. My guess is that Ahuizotl Camacho was the first true Indian to play Friday. Whether Camacho considers himself Indian or "only" Latino, he fits the bill.

Pix of Friday the Indian

Below is Fabian Cevallos as Friday in Les Aventures de Robinson Crusoë (1964). Not surprisingly, the character looks like an Indian. He has the stereotypical headband and hairstyle of an Indian. The actor is either a Latino or a dark-skinned Mediterranean.

Does anybody think these images of Friday look black or Polynesian? Does anybody think Russ is right? The answers are no and no.


At least one movie has portrayed Friday as an Indian. According to Russ's lame-brained "logic," that proves Friday is an Indian in the original book. It also proves Russ is an ignoramus on at least one Indian subject.

In short, Russ, your claim is false and stupid to boot. Friday has been portrayed as an Indian and by a (part) Indian. You lose the debate again.

Oops. Next time, I suggest you cite and quote a scholar if you want to claim Friday has never been an Indian. As far as I'm concerned, anything you say on the subject is a flat-out lie.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

isha said...

I am sorry to say, but I am not agree with Russell Bates.

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