Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pudgy Indian Reviews "Reel Injuns"

by Eugene Johnson of Pudgy Indian 3 blog
November 24, 2010

Shusli, Redwillow, and I went to see the movie "Reel Injun," a documentary produced by Neil Diamond (no not that one) about the Hollywood perception of Indians and the images it has created
Neil interviews many interesting folks such as: John Trudell, Sacheen Littlefeather, Robbie Robertson, Chris Eyre, Clint Eastwood, and many others.

The film documents how Hollywood has viewed Indians throughout the decades since its birth in the late 19th century. He explains how Indians were portrayed as fellow human beings into the 1920's, but during the Depression, the Indians as "uncivilized savage" came into vogue.

That is where the Indian speak started: Ugh, Me heapum big indin cheef!"

As a kid, I always felt uncomfortable about Bugs Bunny (my favorite as a kid) was killing Indians and making a joke out of it. What the f**k?

See Eugene's full review here.

Or is it a taste for racism?
Comment: Eugene sent me an email heads-up on "Reel Injuns" and suggested (not playfully) that I work on getting the Spur restaurant franchise to screen the documentary during dinner.

Those of you who live in South Africa know all to well that the Spur Steak Ranches uses an Indian mascot to sell steaks (Spur is in Nairobi doing the same).

I have wondered how many South Africans boycott Spur or Chrysler for using stereotypical Indian mascots and reductive names (Grand Cherokee).

Not too many is my thinking.

Sadly, I do not expect "Reel Injuns" to make it to any cinema anywhere in South Africa.

Nonetheless, I am going to send an email to the executive owner of Spur, Allen Ambor, to tell him that Eugene, a real Indian in Oregon, suggests he screen "Reel Injuns" for schooling (anti-racist) purposes.

And yeah I think it racist to trade off Indian stereotypes/images especially since Allen Ambor has repeatedly refused to drop the Indian mascot trademark.

Do you think he will reply?

If anyone knows whether "Reel Injuns" will be screened in South Africa please let us know.

For an academic treatment of Indian stereotypes and racism, popular culture, and Hollywood, see Ward Churchill's excellent collection of essays entitled "Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema, and the Colonization of American Indians" (1998).


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