Dear Disney, These Stereotypes Have To Stop By: Mia

Dear Disney,

I’m usually a fan of your movies, but recently I read the book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” and it showed me the viewpoint of a teen Native-American. In this book the author explains how when people think of Native-Americans they think of a big feather-headdress, a mean old guy with braids, maybe even a sports team, but you know what they don’t think of? A normal teen with a lot more going on in their life than people realize.

In your movie “Peter Pan” there is a scene where Peter, Wendy, and both of her brothers are sitting with the Native-American tribe. In this scene you made all of the Native-Americans bright red. This by itself is not okay, but then you went ahead and made these characters speak broke English. In this scene they also sang a song called “What makes the red man red.” I cannot stress enough how disrespectful this was.

You may be thinking “Well this is just one movie” but that’s the thing its not. There are forms of Native American Stereotypes in Bedtime Stories, The Lone Ranger, Pocahontas, Jungle 2 Jungle, etc. I understand you cannot take these movies back and re-do them but what you can do is change the image of the Native-American. Right now kids see Native-Americans as violent, dumb, mascots, weird, and more. Let’s change that!

In the movie “Bedtime Stories” there is a scene where Skeeter (Adam Sandler) is telling a story to the kids. In this particular story he is at a farm with “Ferrari Guy” (Allen Covert). Ferrari GuyYou portray the Native-American as dumb. For example, when Ferrari guy answers a question he uses his hands to act out what he’s saying being he has broken English. Of course I understand this is supposed to be funny, but is it all still funny when a Native-American is told they aren’t really a Native-American cause they dress in the same clothes as everyone else?

Even with the most recent movie “The Lone Ranger” it still looks like there’s no evolution to depicting American Indians in a more authentic way. For example, in an interview with Johnny Depp about the movie “The Lone Ranger” he says this movie was supposed to “turn the cliché of the portrayal of the Native-Americans in cinema” he also said “I wanted to play a character a native-American character that represented them in a dignified way cause their dignified people with the respect for the culture, with respect for their language, with respect for everything they’ve been through” The truth is he can say that he wants the character to be one way but that doesn’t mean the character is portrayed that way. The way that you’re portraying these Native-Americans is disrespectful to them and their culture and that needs to be changed.

From,

Mia

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