July 12, 2009

Stupidity in Enter the Lone Ranger

It may not be a coincidence that "Tonto" means "stupid" in Spanish. Consider how stupidly Tonto acts in Enter the Lone Ranger.

The recovering Ranger has put on his mask and vowed to capture the criminals who ambushed him. But Collins the "half-breed" scout has survived the attack also. He shoots at the Lone Ranger and Tonto from a position high on a hillside.RANGER:  Take cover, Tonto!

RANGER:  That’s Collins. The man who led us into ambush.

TONTO:  Why him shoot?

RANGER:  Undoubtedly he’s after your horse. Collins must’ve been deserted by the outlaws. He’s probably been making his way to that vantage point for some time now.

TONTO:  Why him go there, kemo sabe?

RANGER:  He knows the only way to get Scout is to kill us.

RANGER:  He is well protected up there.

TONTO:  What we do now?

RANGER:  I’m going to keep him back under cover while you make a run for Scout.

RANGER:  Take Scout into the cave. Collins won’t be able to see you from there.

TONTO:  Me do.

RANGER:  I’ll follow, Tonto, as soon as you’re safe.

RANGER:  All right, run!
So Tonto can't figure out why the bad guy might shoot at the good guys. Why the bad guy might shoot from a vantage point. If I were the Ranger, I would've said something sarcastic like, "Why do you think he's shooting at us, dummy...target practice?"

Nor can Tonto figure out what to do about it. But the Ranger can. Assume Tonto is as helpless as a child who can only run away. Proceed accordingly.

Taking down Collins

The Lone Ranger and Tonto make it to safety beneath Collins's position. The Ranger says they'll climb the cliff face on either side of Collins and surround him. Tonto gets above Collins and starts to climb down. Collins sees Tonto and aims his rifle, but the Ranger shoots the gun from Collins's hands.

Tonto doesn't have much in the way of stealth and stalking abilities. But now that Collins is weaponless, Tonto will jump him and subdue him, right? Wrong.

Instead, the Ranger slips, drops his gun, and almost falls. Ignoring the Indian above him, Collins lifts a rock to bash the Ranger.TONTO:  Kemo sabe! Look out!

COLLINS:  I’ll get you now, Ranger!
Surely now Tonto will act. But no. Collins merely loses his balance and falls past the Ranger to his death.

I'd say let's review Tonto's actions, but he hasn't done nothing. He hasn't helped one bit to capture Collins except to act as a target. He seems to be worthless as a crimefighter.

Unless he's stating the obvious to make the Ranger look smart, he's not even a good sidekick. He's more like the children in a Spielberg movie: victims who exist so the adults can save them and look heroic.

Will Tonto ever do anything worth mentioning? Or is he just going to stand around saying things like, "You a real man, kemo sabe. Me wish me could be like you"?

Tonto likes 'em dead

The Lone Ranger and Tonto stand over Collins:TONTO:  Him dead, kemo sabe. Me glad. Him deserve to die.

RANGER:  No, Tonto. No one should have his life end like this.

TONTO:  Better him dead. Like white parson say, this act of providence. Now no one know you still live.

RANGER:  Yes, that is true. A strange act of providence has protected my secret.
In addition to Tonto's servility and stupidity, he seems to be lacking in morality. He urged the Ranger to kill people and now is glad someone's dead. The Ranger corrects him because, well, civilized people have morals and savages don't.

Tonto's final comment hints that he may have been raised as a Christian or by Christians. Which wouldn't be surprising since he doesn't seem to have any Native beliefs or values. Perhaps Tonto was a mindless creature until white people educated and uplifted him.

Anyway, you're getting an idea of how bad a character Tonto is. Not an equal partner, not even a subordinate sidekick. More like a servant to his master.

For more on the subject, see The Lone Ranger.

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