Native American Actors Storm off Set of Adam Sandler Movie
Adam Sandler’s latest comedy is intended to be a western spoof, but a dozen Native American actors weren’t laughing when they walked off the set of The Ridiculous 6 on Wednesday.
The satirical script reportedly includes offensive Native American characters with names like Beaver’s Breath and No Bra and a scene in which an Apache woman smokes a peace pipe while peeing, according to Indian Country Today Media Network.
“We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche,” Navajo Nation tribal member Loren Anthony told ICTM of her role in the film, which is being produced by Netflix. “They just treated us as if we should just be on the side. When we did speak with the main director, he was trying to say the disrespect was not intentional and this was a comedy.”
“The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of—but in on—the joke.”
Hollywood movies lack diversity, particularly when it comes to Native American characters: Just 1 percent of characters were American Indian or Alaskan Native in a 2014 USC analysis of more than 25,000 speaking parts in the top-grossing films released roughly between 2007 and 2013. But increased representation doesn’t necessarily translate to accurate representation.
Many of the actors interviewed by ICTM said they were initially wary of the movie and felt conflicted about its representation of Native Americans, but accepted the roles after producers assured them that they’d hired a cultural consultant to ensure accuracy. David Hill, a member of Choctaw Nation, told ICTM it was a shame that many of the actors will probably continue to work because they need the money.
The Ridiculous 6, which was written by Sandler and longtime writing partner Tim Herlihy—who also wrote the Sandler hits Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, and The Wedding Singer—is reportedly a parody of the 1960 Steve McQueen western The Magnificent Seven.
A straight remake of The Magnificent Seven is also in the works at MGM, with Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington set to star. No word yet on how the movie will handle the portrayal of its Mexican “bandits.”