They give out oscars for racism now?

January 16, 2014 — 70 Comments

alone

Shhh. Don’t tell my committee I’m blogging. My dissertation is due, like, reallllllly soon. Just a quick post. I promise.

Today, the list of nominees for the Academy Awards was released. I would just like to draw your attention to two of them.

“Best Makeup and hairstyling”: THE LONE RANGER. (What?!?! arghabduVBIDslfdjlkm)

and

“Best Song”: “Alone yet not Alone” from the movie “Alone yet not Alone” (We’ll get to this in a minute. hold on. it’s a doozy.)

“Best Makeup and Hairstyling”: The Lone Ranger for best makeup and hairstyling seems like kinda a sick joke, don’t you think? I saw the movie, unfortunately, and it’s really just a bunch of old-timey wild west dudes and Helen Bonham carter, and there is nothing remarkable about their hair or makeup. Unless the greasy-not-showered look is like really difficult to do or something. Here’s Bonham-Carter’s look, if you’re curious. I wouldn’t call it oscar worthy:

Lone-Ranger-helena-bonham-carter

So then I am left to ascertain that the academy is honoring either the super-hurtful-and-offensive fake cleft lip they gave the bad guy, Cavendish:

cleft lip

Or this mess that we talked about ad nauseam because it amounts to REDFACE:

(And for those of you new to the blog or need a refresher, here’s all my Tonto coverage: my initial reactionswhy you should care about Tonto when there are “bigger issues” out theretearing apart Depp’s reasoning over his costume choicesthe controversy I dealt with for writing about TontoArmie Hammer’s comments about Indians loving the movie, and the big review of the film):

armie hammer

So, just to recap. The Lone Ranger, one of the biggest film flops of 2013 (haha), is being honored for its brilliant use of redface? What kind of world do we live in? Oh, I know. One that makes a movie called “Alone yet not Alone”.

“Best Song”–Alone yet not Alone: I’m not going to go into everything that is wrong with this movie. It could be another dissertation. But, here are some images to help you out. First, the trailer:

Next, the movie poster (a different version also pictured at the top of the post):

alone yet not alone

Some of the film credits for the “Indians” (not pictured, “medicine man,” and “friendly Indian warrior”):

Screen shot 2014-01-16 at 1.15.03 PM

And the movie synopsis from IMDB, with key points bolded:

The year is 1755, and the English colonies are being ravaged by the atrocities of war. Opposing European powers have clashed over the fertile Ohio valley, and entire families are devastated by the ensuing violence. Hostile native tribes are raiding the vulnerable frontier farms, and two young sisters are among those taken captive. While hoping for rescue and return to their home, they are comforted with the words of a family hymn: Alone Yet Not Alone. But when the sisters are suddenly and cruelly separated, their tender faith is brought to a stretching point. Forcibly immersed into a primitive foreign culture, the older sister, Barbara, clings to her beliefs. Yet now a deeper fate threatens, and she makes a difficult decision: to risk her life in an attempt to escape. Pursued by a relentless and cunning warrior, Barbara and her three fellow captives must cross over two hundred miles of raw wilderness in their effort to reach friendly territory. Will their courage and trust in God be enough to see them through? And if they do succeed, will they find their family? Will Barbara ever see her sister again? Alone Yet Not Alone depicts the riveting true story of a family at a critical juncture in our nation’s history.

Ugh, just reading that throws me into a NATIVE HULK RAGE. This article sums up wtf this movie is and why you haven’t heard of it. The actual song is linked at the bottom of the article, if you can handle more than 20 seconds (I couldn’t).

Whatever. So what have we learned today that we didn’t already know? Nothing. We learned that the Academy Awards is racist. It always has been. 94% of the voting members of the academy are white. So both the Lone Ranger and Alone yet not Alone feed into the colonial fantasy BS that dominates hollywood stories about Indians. Which my lovely friend @ChiefElk so succinctly summed up when she tweeted this to me this morning:

Hollywood Indians

The other thing that majorly sucks is that “Alone yet not alone” would have just quietly slid into obscurity because it looks like the worst movie ever, and only had a tiny release to the “christian market” (whatever that is). But now with an Oscar nod, a whole lot more people are going to be seeing it. Blegh.

Welcome to 2014, where we give Oscars for redface and songs from Christian colonial fantasies.

Back to the grind.

ETA: I forgot to mention that there is a tiny bit of justice in all of this–Johnny Depp was nominated for a “worst actor” Razzie this year for his work in Lone Ranger. 

Adrienne K.

Posts

  • http://diaryofamessylady.wordpress.com/ Lauren

    The trailer was nearly too bad to handle. It’s laughable to put anything about this anywhere near the Oscars. … Sigh …

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1031794101/the-outernet

  • http://www.roxydrew.com Roxanne Palmer

    a real inneresting observation from that HitFix article: ['Alone Yet Not Alone' composer Bruce] “Broughton is a former Academy Governor and, oh, the former chief of the music branch.”

    AMAZING coincidence, that!!!

    • http://www.roxydrew.com Roxanne Palmer

      HA, and: “is it any coincidence that the composer of the score for “Alone yet Not Alone” is William Ross, who will be the Oscar telecast’s music director this year for the fourth time?”

      (via: http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/blog/2014/01/the_oscar_nomin_1.html)

      • Adrienne_K

        WHAT.

        • http://www.roxydrew.com Roxanne Palmer

          yuuup. and it seems (per the globe) the song noms would have been voted on just by the music branch — the branch that Broughton formerly headed. hooray for hollywood!

  • meanneighborlady

    An awesome post-mid dissertation no less! I especially enjoyed the line “Ugh, just reading that throws me into a NATIVE HULK RAGE.” Also thumbs up for your friend’s list of rules.

  • Katelyn Avery

    LOL about the Graham Greene thing. I’m white and if he’s in a movie I will stop to watch it. Even if its a bad movie. He’s just that awesome. Wes Studi, Adam Beach and Gil Birmingham are awesome (and white people favorites) as well. I myself am a Eddie Spears fan (a little bit for Michael. I haven’t seen many of his movies.) but none of my peers no who he is until I show them a picture.

  • Piishii

    As norm we are once again the bad with made up people playing us. Nothing has changed in all these years.

  • Sara Marie Ortiz

    Ugh. Gross. The Oscars are a crock anyway. Their origins and their “evolution.” They seem to be getting worse and worse every year in pretty much every single way.

  • http://indiansailability.biz/ Robert Xavier Betancourt Junio

    How about a SKUD 18 with two disabled Native Americans for the Access Worlds in San Francisco. see http://baads.org put on Russell Means for the anniversary of the take over of Alcatraz.

  • Betty Tuininga

    Excellent blog piece. I am tired of Hollywoods demeaning portrayal of Native people and their use of non-Native actors for Native roles. There are so many new and top-notch Native actors out there who should be cast in roles that are traditional as well as non-traditional. ie Such as the cop roles that Adam Beach has played on TV in the earlier years.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      The Yiddish-speaking “Injuns” in Blazing Saddles were Mel Brooks’ snark on one of Old Hollywood’s less noble traditions.

      • colleenll

        Yep, that was great comedy and that was how they should have played this if they really HAD to do it — a spoof of itself….since it kind of was anyway but NOT in a good way…

  • IndigenousUVA

    Don’t forget that bird hat that the elder Native man was wearing and feeding? In whose fashion world was that hat worthy of an Oscar!? Nothing against bird-hats, honest. But it was at that point of the movie that I realized that we had entered into a Pirates of the Caribbean -type movie fantasy, it only got worse from there.

    One good note about this year’s Oscar nominations — “Twelve Years a Slave” did include a nice scene where the lead character and the crew he was working with stumbled onto some Native peoples. The Indians ended up sharing with them through dance, that scene was profound — I thought that the Indians probably took pity on the poor slaves and so they gave them something beautiful to help them endure. Not sure how the book expressed that scene however, or if it was even in the original book.

  • http://wiseoldsnail.org/ wiseoldsnail

    well done . i won’t be seeing such junk, and am thankful you had what it takes to sit through it to make this assessment . i, for one believe you and won’t need to experience such tripe myself

  • Kiki Fogg

    Luckily, there’s no way either of them are gonna win. The makeup in Lone Ranger sucked, and either U2 or Disney is gonna take Best Song.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      Even so, “OSCAR NOMINATION” (maybe with “OSCAR” in boldface caps and “nomination” in fine print) IS a selling point in advertising spin.

      • colleenll

        Obviously not enough of a selling point, huh?

  • colleenll

    Your blog is my favorite, your satire, attitude, perspectives, style, right on. I followed all your Put A Bird On It posts since my reactions and comments were basically the same, since the beginning. Poetic justice, the Razzie. I guess the spirit guide took a big dump on the redface.

    • colleenll

      And I’m a big fan of JD. Not dissing him, just sayin NOT GOOD choices….

      • Headless Unicorn Guy

        Hollywood sent the goon squad out to defend Tonto and their privileged white friend JD against a Cherokee sister?

        Now THAT is one surreal sentence.

        • colleenll

          Not as surreal as “Headless Unicorn Guy.”

  • James Taddeo

    Of course they applaud racism and hate not to mention the spreading of division and dissent! You know that all to well. I don’t believe in different races amongst humans, only tribes.

    Humans……equally as guilty of stereotypes regardless of what their background. In my opinion this is an example of survival mechanisms built into us that has become obsolete. It worked for us in the distant past but now should be consciously discarded as such. I’m Caucasian and have no fantasies of being or being accepted by, or for that matter, saving anyone. I do recognize the absolute criminal behavior of colonial conquests including those done to my ancestors well before the conquest of the America’s. But I see no use in having a bigger victim contest as I am not a victim of anything nor will I be.

    Personally I hope to see the return of pre-Christian White tribes working in harmony with other peoples of the earth to help restore her to health because I believe that is why we, all of us, are here. She, Moist Mother Earth, taught me that not any other human being………..When slaying monsters it really is a good idea to be sure that we too do not become them.

    By the way I vehemently agree with almost everything here not in any delusional or fantasy state but in clarity. “Holywood” is a freaking joke (but a very powerful propaganda machine) as are the criminal corporations and governments currently holding power………….IMHO.

    P.S. Please stop watching their garbage distractions, movies, TV, and other propaganda. They’ll rot your mind and we all need as many free thinking logical minds as we can get. it’s an endangered species.

    Peace

    • colleenll

      haha right on

  • swissmiss

    Total respect was paid to the Native Americans on the set of Alone Yet Not Alone, who advised, taught, danced and invited the “white folks” to understand their historic struggles. While it’s “simply” told – this story has balance – the Native Americans are NOT portrayed as mean savages – there is hatred and jealousy between the brothers, great kindnesses shown to the white children as they settled with the Natives. There are plenty of examples in the story from the white leaders of the day (and it was 300 years ago) of their arrogance towards the Native Americans to cause the problems and tensions. I witnessed this first hand over months of filming. I am not religious and I am still friends with some of these wonderful people I met during the shoot.

    • CamasBlues

      “Total respect”? I am doubtful. The people behind this movie and filling out much of the cast are from the creepy, fringe movements of Christian Patriarchy and Dominionism: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2014/01/oscar-nominated-alone-but-not-alone-a-product-of-the-doug-phillips-michael-farris-empire.html

      These extreme movements are quite prejudiced against Native Americans. Here is an eyeful from one of the movement’s fave “historians” David Barton: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/03/22/christian-evangelist-david-barton-we-had-destroy-indian-tribes-148317

      • swissmiss

        You were not there. I was. I know EXACTLY who was there and what they are into, they were treated as “guests” and with respect just as the Native Americans were. The core people that were there the WHOLE time, non-Christians, Hollywood pro’s. and yes, Christian interns created a really good working environment. All sorts of assumptions can be made….but YOU were not part of this family for the 3 months of filming.

        • CamasBlues

          Doesn’t look like many actual Natives were there. Much of the ‘Native’ cast listed on IMDB appear to be non-Natives in redface (which is its own long Hollywood tradition. For a fun take on that, check out the documentary ‘Reel Injun’ by Northern Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond). Not an auspicious sign. And, some Natives have been assimilated into these extremist Dominionist and CP movements: http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/2/8/214752/1935

          • swissmiss

            I understand this is your agenda, your platform. All I can tell you is, once again your assumptions are wrong. As hard as that may be for you to comprehend as it doesn’t fit with your views – so be it. Everyone behaved with respect and professionalism towards one another – it truly was a “melting pot” of race and religion. Think what you like, I was there – a white, non-religious person to experience it and I am truly grateful for that.

            • colleenll

              Since you’re not even using your real name, that’s easy for you to say but not real credible. It sounds like someone has an agenda ^^^^^

              • CamasBlues

                When I 1st posted s/he did have a nym (I can’t recall what is was exactly offhand – swiss-something, like swissmiss or similar). But couple days later I guess s/he closed down her/his disqus acct. (I swear I didn’t mean to make swiss feel picked on! So I hope the acct issues had nothing to do w/ me – just wanted to get some into out there).

                Anyway, I stumbled on another fascinating data-point on the fact that the people behind the film are not ordinary evangelicals but extremists: http://kbotkin.com/2014/01/16/alone-yet-not-alone-in-a-sea-of-dominionism/

                The blog author, Katie Botkin, is the niece of an influential patriarch (Geoff Botkin) in quiverfull/Christian patriarchy/domionism circles.

                • colleenll

                  Surprise surprise

                  • swissmiss

                    Why are you like this…..????

                    • colleenll

                      Because brains are our friends.

                • swissmiss

                  I read your post CamasBlues and no, nothing to do with you, just had other things to attend to.

              • swissmiss

                I have no agenda – it’s simply what I observed.

                • colleenll

                  Really? Wow, you sound pretty credible. That Generic Restroom profile photo and using your real name lends a lot of weight to your opinion. But not as much as when you said, “I understand this is your agenda, your platform. All I can tell you is, once again your assumptions are wrong. As hard as that may be for you to comprehend as it doesn’t fit with your views – so be it.” That’s what made me put total faith in all your observations.

                  • swissmiss

                    Colleenll….like I said I have my reasons. I “get” how it would look too.

                    • colleenll

                      Really? Do you “get” how it IS, also?

                    • Gitz

                      The greatest part from her argument is that in her mind the indian image they created is a respectful one. The greatest fail is understanding that the noble savage is a racist upon it’s simplicity. Her fail is abandoning what they feel to be respectful and understanding the truth. Not being able to understand what colonization is and the many forms it takes.

                    • Gitz

                      like this!

                • colleenll

                  But when I REALLY knew you were totally non-biased and to be relied upon was when you referred to to yourself as “part of this family for the 3 months of filming.” Now I KNOW you have no agenda.

                  • swissmiss

                    You’re right – I do have my reasons for a generic name…certainly not those that you stated. I am not in any way shape or form with the religious idiots, in fact I was “prayed for” numerous times to get me on the “right” path and THAT certainly didn’t work. There were a lot of non-religious actors and crew working and they are the “family” I refer to.

                    • colleenll

                      Well, now that you put it THAT way, and your agenda is only on behalf of the “non-religious actors and crew” who are your “family,” that makes SO much difference and you couldn’t possibly have any bias. And you totally convinced me that religious idiots who “prayed for” you “numerous times” to “get” you “on the right path” would never treat natives in a patronizing, condescending way. They seem really aware and sensitive to someone’s right to have their culture and choices respected. I can’t comment on any of the alleged “reasons” I allegedly gave for your generic name, since I didn’t give any. The more you explain yourself, the more “credible” you seem!

            • Tabatha Tavares

              Would you have a problem with releasing the tribe/nation of the “native” actors in this film? Most every Native film I have seen, you know of this information.

        • Joyce Watson Miller

          I have not seen the film but I have heard the song by the ‘christian lady Joni’ who sings the song and when she sings the song she is singing to the Creator-she is a christian in every way-she is a person that shows Love and respect to others-You judge everyone because of what has and is still happening-I am sorry-And I do not agree with how The Native Americian People have been treated-my great-great grandmother who lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains was Native Americian.

        • Joe Whittle

          “Guest”, can you tell me if there were ANY members of the Delaware Nation on the set as advisors to this film? As a Delaware myself, I’d be very interested to know. I did not recognize any names on the IMDB and we are a small community between our two reservations. I have not seen the film obviously, but just watching the preview I caught about a dozen inaccuracies just in that 3 minutes. I have a really hard time believing there were any REAL Native consultants on this film; and if there were, they were not Delaware. Also I noticed all the “Native” actors have Hispanic names. Just in the 3 minutes I saw I was so infuriated at how I saw my people, MY family, portrayed!

    • Tabatha Tavares

      But the story reminds me of a historical Harlequin romance novel. I don’t see how you honored Natives, but okay…

  • Maria_Octo

    I’m 1/2048 dutch, 1/8 Mohawk (father’s side) and 1/8 Ojibway (mother’s side), blonde, with blue eyes, and look very dutch (except my cheekbones I’m told). Even though many natives would very much prefer I shut up about my native heritage because I’m obviously white, I’m very proud of my heritage, including my native heritage. I think Johnny Depp is a wonderful actor and I think his desire to honour his native heritage was commendable.

    But doing the whole REDFACE thing, that’s definitely not the way to do it. The moment I saw him in that costume …

    Doing my geneology, I found some more native in me, back in New France. The fact they called my ancestor “une savage” was painful to me. But that was a long time ago. I had, hoped we as human beings, especially in North America, where many of us, many of my friends, myself, white as we are, have native heritage, whether we know it or not, would finally be better than that.

    But then there was that costume worn by Depp.

    I don’t just feel offended just as someone with native heritage, I feel offended as a human being.

    An Oscar nomination? Can we shoot the committee? Please?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy

      But then there was that costume worn by Depp.

      I don’t know what kind of drugs the costume designer was hammered on, and I’m not sure I want to know.

      • colleenll

        I think JD was the costume designer for his do-it-yourself One Stop Halloween Shop needs. He said he got the idea from that white new age Shaman Mystical Indian Stereotype Color-By-Number painter Kirby Satler, so heroin and chain-smoked cigarettes was probably what the costume designer was on.

  • Maria_Octo

    I found your blog too late I’m afraid and missed “But Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?”

    I have some better answers for the all-whites.

    “Why can’t I wear military medals as a fashion statement?” Because you didn’t earn them.
    “Why can’t I wear military insignia as a fashion statement?” Because you didn’t earn it.
    “Why can’t I wear a mayoral chain as a fashion statement?” Because you didn’t earn it.
    “Why can’t I wear a Noble’s circlet as a fashion statement?” Because you didn’t earn it.
    “Why can’t I call myself the President of the United States?” Because you didn’t earn it.
    “Why Can’t I Wear a Hipster Headdress?” For the same reasons you can’t wear a a mayoral chain, military isignia, medals, circlet, or call yourself the President of the United States. Because you didn’t earn it.

    Put it into those terms. I think they may FINALLY get the idea.

    • colleenll

      And Why can’t I wear the ceremonial religious attire of all the white people? Because it’s called “mockery.” Any further questions, hipsters?

  • readthis

    Excellent points, great blog.

  • http://gravatar.com/charid ChariD

    The Rules rock. Have not and will not see the Lone Ranger movie.The other movie’s movie poster made me throw up a little in my mouth, so nope; not seeing that one either.

  • That German Girl

    Well coming from someone else that was on set for Alone Yet not Alone. .I can honestly say all the natives were NOT treated with respect & yes they did make some appear to look like savages. All the main native leads were 95% non natives…that’s true facts…

    • colleenll

      And the greatest thing they did to honor us and make us feel important was how the subtitles said, “Speaks in Native language.” Doesn’t matter which it is or what they were saying, of course. They’re savages…

    • swissmiss

      When were you not treated well?

      • colleenll

        Give it up.

  • Bhimsen Ikaika Kumar-Reyes

    well, now the song for “Alone Yet Not Alone” has been scrapped from the nomination process because there were too many conflict of interests.

    • Dee Hill

      GOOD

  • chantaldeelite

    Ta-da! This horrible nightmare song is no longer on the ballot! (Not because the movie is racist but because as pointed out in the top comment here, it’s composer cheated.) http://jezebel.com/controversial-song-alone-but-not-alone-booted-from-os-1512177980

  • anon ymous

    Read the Wikipedia entry on the Ft Parker Massacre. Read of the ordeal of Cynthia Parker, and Rachel Plummer. Multiply that thousands of times with even more fiendish treatment of many of the white captives including the most horrible kinds of torture and gang rape and sexual slavery of the white women. Then get back to me about how bad white men were to the Indians.

    • CamasBlues

      Riiiiight Cuz white men never ever kidnapped and raped Indian women. Like all the time. And then later took kids to boarding schools where many were abused. But no biggie, cuz hey, white girlz!

      Also, if you read the history books, Cynthia Parker was adopted into Comanche culture. She loved her husband and hated being separated from her Comanche family.

  • David Mumford

    this will all be overlooked because a “christian” film had its nomination revoked for breaking the rules. the last part of that sentence will be overlooked to to make this fodder for what some jerkoffs call the “war on christianity”…..(sighs)

  • Tabatha Tavares

    This story clearly reeks of a Cassie Edwards novel, where the white woman is captured by the stoic “savage indian”. After much suffering, she falls in love with him and they go into his tipi and the rest is history. The women in these stories apparently did not have a strong Christian faith.

  • Dee Hill

    Adrienne K. you are badass to knock this out mid-dissertation!!!! That’s number one. Number two. Being ten days older than dirt I can tell you the Oscars are defined by a racist quotient. They always have been and until folks like Chris Eyre, Ava Duernay, Ang Lee and Asghar Farhadi are heading up the Academy’s board of governors it will probably stay that way. I totally missed this “alone but not alone” I’m so glad for that. It is a script taken straight out of D.W Griffth’s “birth of a nation” play book, just exchanging the race of the “barbarians.” Thanks for the deconstruction,

  • Real Name

    BUH, Noticed they took down the trailer for the movie, sometime this afternoon. An here I was on a roll bursting ignoramuses bubbles….

  • CamasBlues

    A good review outlining some of the historical distortions and stereotypes in this film: http://lastrealindians.com/alone-but-not-alone-and-the-christian-imagination-of-history-by-kevin-gonzaga/

  • Red Haircrow

    Thanks for this great post, which I linked back to in my article “Native Misrepresentation in Film. “http://redhaircrow.com/2014/02/09/native-misrepresentation-in-film/. This happens in North America without fail, but it also happens in Europe and films can be really, really offensive yet heavily justified by their makers.