Feb 18, 2013 - Johnny Depp & The Never Ending Hollywood Indian -Michelle Shining Elk

Hollywood Baggage. This day in age, we still have Hollywood baggage that perpetuates American Indian stereotypes. We are in what century? Oh right…the 21st. Guess Depp didn’t get the memo when he was preparing for his role in “The Lone Ranger.”

How we (as American Indian people) are described or portrayed, even this day in age, has a significant impact on how we are perceived, taken seriously, or respected.

Thanks Johnny Depp for perpetuating a grossly erroneous stereotype of how Indians speak – then and now. You brought NOTHING to the table in so far as your usually amazing acting skills.

Like teachers influence their students throughout their scholastic programs, so do people in all forms of media and entertainment who misrepresent us as American Indian people and continue to perpetuate the stereotypes as they influence their fans, readers, listeners, followers and viewers. Thus…the perpetual cycle of stereotypes and misinformation continue seemingly without end.

Popular culture, which is predominantly members of the majority constantly propagate misinformation, skewed perspectives and inappropriate depictions of who we are as First Nation American Indian people. This misinformation always ends up being internalized by those who don’t know any better or how to decipher the difference between fact and fiction.

I get this movie is a “period piece”; however, never was there a time when our ancestors or our elders spoke the way Depp portrays Tonto in the upcoming Disney release “The Lone Ranger.” Thanks Johnny Depp for not exercising your gifts of being an amazing actor who is typically able to bring amazing life to your characters using that talent. Sadly and so disappointing is seeing that all you have done here is simply mimic the pathetic speech patterns created and always depicted in the ridiculous stereotype plagued lot of Hollywood Spaghetti Westerns films.

Of course, those who don’t get it, will argue or tell me to lighten up because this is a remake of “The Lone Ranger” which was shot in the 1930s-40s or that I “should just get over it.”

But here is the deal…while this may be a remake of a 30s-40s television show, the technology and special effects used to make this movie will surely remind audiences throughout the 90 minute process that it is anything but a true “period piece” and that it’s a modern day flick. As such, I don’t think it’s cockamamie that I would have expected Depp to deliver his lines in a more modern and realistic manner and not like a caricature from a John Wayne movie, or 1920s cartoon.

From the Boston Tea Party to Hollywood movies to the New Age Movement, we as First Nation American Indian people are stuck in a time warp of misconception created by Hollywood and mainstream America about how this country thinks we were, and we are. We are forever stuck with the perception that we are uneducated, irrelevant, non-contributors to society living in tee pees out on the plains…stuck in time as 19th Century “Redskins.”

Sadly, it seems that until we rid ourselves of the “Hollywood baggage” that plagues the truth about who the contemporary, relevant, talented, thought leaders that we are, the room for us to get our messages across is the size of a matchbox. But, we’ll keep on fighting the good fight.

I’m glad so many American Indians garnered work and some income from this movie, but sadly there is no way I’ll be able to sit through 90 minutes of watching Johnny Depp act like an idiot and sound like a buffoon.


Last Real Indians