The trailer reveals a film that I know I’m not going to see, and that’s not even counting the on-set stories I’ve heard, including the interview I did with actor Loren Anthony about his experiences on set (I consider that interview a must-read so you can really get the jist of why so many people were offended by this film). Here’s just a taste of what Anthony told me:
What, to you, was the most offensive or hurtful part of the whole experience?
I can’t just pinpoint one thing. The media, right now, when this came out and people picking it up when it broke on Indian Country Today, a lot of people kind of just went with, like, “Everybody’s mad; these individuals are just upset because of two character names.” Those character names, they are offensive and disrespectful to women, but there was a [plethora] of different things that were taking place that I just can’t pinpoint just one because it’s a majority of things.
Going from the representation of the costumes that we were told to wear, to the respect and the appropriate use of the feathers [which] were not used the right way, [and] looking at the tipis themselves and how they were misrepresented and how they had things on them that shouldn’t be on them. And the tipi part—a lot of our Native American people use those for cultural or spiritual, religious ceremonies. To desecrate that—that would be a big no-no in American society, if someone were to desecrate a regular church, like a Catholic Church or a mosque or Christian churches. You go to jail for that kind of stuff. So those things were violated.
Because of what I’ve learned about the on-set experience, I wonder just how much or how little of these problematic scenes were cut out of the film due to the controversy. The trailer doesn’t show a lot—the quick cuts to Native American scenes, including a prominent shot of Saginaw Grant, aren’t “problematic” in any immediate form—but who knows what could come out in subsequent trailers, not to mention the film itself.
In any event, the film shows much of what has made Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore films so problematic to many film lovers; it’s a film full of stereotypes that’s supposed to be “funny,” when the “jokes” actually just come off as immature bully-tactics. Sandler himself is always the star of the film—he’s always the “regular” guy, which therefore projects the idea that he has carte blanche to objectify everyone else. Taylor Lautner is playing a person with what appears to be a learning disability, but the character is one that we’re supposed to laugh at because of his difference. He’s not a funny character because of his personality or something that is indicative of his character as a human being. He’s just a walking stereotype that we’re supposed to laugh at because we’re not like him. Don’t even get me started on Rob Schneider’s character, which, even though we haven’t seen much of the character in action, looks like he could also be problematic. One of the most irritating parts of Sandler’s films is that he can get big name stars to sign on. How does he do it?
Anyways, I’ll keep tabs on The Ridiculous Six, because I’d like to know if the controversy the film weathered affected anything about the film’s post-production. Seeing how a lot of people tried to push the objections to the treatment of Native characters and actors under the rug, who’s to say what, if anything, was affected. But I’d hope that at the very least, the people working on the film had a moment of reflection to realize that they were adding more insult to injury with jokes that made fun of a culture, a culture which had already been affected by genocide and cultural erasure.