March 12, 2012

Johnny Depp in a crow headdress

Last week everyone was talking about this photo released from Johnny Depp's Lone Ranger movie:

Blogger Adrienne Keene's reaction was fairly typical:

Johnny Depp as Cultural Appropriation Jack Sparrow...I mean TontoIf this horrific image is "an attempt to take some of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans...and turn it on its head," I don't want to live on this planet anymore.

He looks like they just took the Captain Jack Sparrow costume and removed the pirate hat, put a bird on it, and added some menacing facepaint. Or wait, they already did that:
The Tonto costume is a mish-mash of stereotypical Indian garb, a Plains-style breastplate with a southwest-style headband (minus the effing bird), random feathers and beads--but the face paint that makes him look evil, forlorn, and angry all at once is a nice touch. Then, the fact that the publicity photo shows the "wild" and "unruly" (ok, I'll say it, "savage") Tonto behind the clean, polished, (and white) Lone Ranger is a great "honoring" to Native people too, and shows how much agency Tonto has, right? (/sarcasm)The commenters on Facebook's Native Appropriations page were equally scathing:Ohhh...this is awful!

Excellent post. Infuriating Depp. Put a bird on it....Grrrrr.

Stomach in knots. Ugh...

Dear Mr. Depp ... this isn't the Neverland thing, OK? What a sad joke on us ... I reject anyone who says they couldn't find an Indian actor to play that role. Not in 2012. Choke on your box office, assholes.

I seriously cringed when I saw this photo pop up on my news feed.

Headdesk/facepalm combo.
More Facebook reactions

Reactions from a posting on the NativeCelebs page I help manage:They should have asked the tribe that the character Tonto really is about the culture and how their warriors really did dress. In this day and age with technology the way it is, you would figure it's not that hard.

I'm totally speechless. I'm still trying to find the words to cover up my shocked expression and push my chin back up from the floor...

Wtf died on his head? I like Johhny Depp but he looks like he's going to a New England powwow.

I am Comanche and find that very offensive.
And another posting:Whatever Johnny...Doesn't even look remotely authentic. Definitely not Apache.

Hollywood at its worst!

Yeah, being from Apache ancestry, I am pretty insulted. And yes after reading the native posting, it looks like they took Depp off the Pirates production and just changed his hat for a freaking bird.

I have some Apache far back down the line but even if I didn't I think this in just insulting. It is just Hollywood wanting a big name actor in a film to try and draw intrest for a film that probably wouldn't have a very big draw otherwise. Disgusting.

Wow...just wow.

I don't care who he's supposed to be...from today on...for me, he's an idiot.
From the 1491s' posting:Who cares if Johnny Depp is Native or not...he still looks like a ASS!!! I could play a better sellout then him!!

Johnny Depp is not enrolled in any of the three federally recognized Cherokee groups. Disney puts out press-releases saying iksh like that to justify not hiring us real natives. And look what is heading to the big screen: a crow taking a shit on top of a gay, white pirate.

So a pretend Cherokee is playing a supposed Comanche character that was originally Pottawatomi but made out to be like an Apache and still playing sidekick to a white guy? Damn Hollywood has some good special effects these days!
My initial thoughts

Depp's Tonto is supposed to be Comanche. This may be an authentic Native look, but I doubt it's Comanche. The bandanna looks Apache, for instance, not Comanche. I also doubt an Indian would wear a headdress and warpaint as his everyday look.

Even if Tonto's look is 100% authentic, it's not a standard look for someone going about his business. It makes Tonto look freakish, like an unnatural "other," not like a regular guy.

Let's hope he wears this outfit only occasionally in the movie. Like when he's going to war. If this is his default look, it's probably a bad sign.

For more on the subject, see Lone Ranger Movie Rides Again and Depp Unsure of His Native Ancestry.

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