November 24, 2011
Addams Family Values Thanksgiving
Comment: This is a timely reminder of the stereotypes inherent in our semi-fictional Thanksgiving celebration.
The scene is an outdoors Thanksgiving pageant. A white "Pilgrim" woman introduces the arriving Indians as "Chippewas" and makes condescending remarks about them. I guess the tone is comedic enough to signal that her remarks are facetious, but it's a close call. I bet a lot of people, especially children, viewed this scene uncritically.
Several faux Indians--a Plains chief, braves, and a maiden--arrive for the celebratory feast. The girl calls herself Pocahontas, though Pocahontas had nothing to do with the Pilgrims. Perhaps she was the inspiration for Bedlam's "PocaHotAss" party.
Then "Pocahontas" denounces the Pilgrims for stealing Indian land and the scenario shifts. The Indians transform from primitive children into bloodthirsty savages. They shoot arrows, burn down the village, and--in the worst case--roast two captives on a spit over a fire. The clear implication is that they're cannibals who plan to eat the Pilgrims.
In case you don't get the message, a montage helpfully compares the Indians to brutal killers--e.g., Rambo and the Terminator--from other movies. Included in the montage are vicious attack dogs. Yes, the Indians act like a wild pack of dogs.
About the only time they act like genuine human beings is when "Pocahontas" first speaks up. In the real world, that's when Indians began negotiating complex diplomatic solutions--peace treaties--to protect their lives and cultures. In the movie, they go on a rampage. Because that's how America views Indians--as brutes and barbarians who can't think or act like civilized Europeans.
For more on the subject, see Robotic's "Pilgrims & Indians Theme Party" and Thanksgiving Pageant in New Girl.