Adam Sandler has had a rough go of things for the entirety of the current decade. Forbes has called the Most Overpaid Actor in Hollywood for two years running; his movies are critically panned, and increasingly avoided; he’s basically broken the loud, fratty, fart joke formula that made him popular about twenty years ago. Now, the torrent of bad publicity has reached his newest production, the made-for-Netflix production The Ridiculous Six, which has had to halt production after a dozen Native American actors walked off the set in protest.
In protest of what, you ask? A whole bunch of things, according to Indian Country Today:
The examples of disrespect included Native women’s names such as Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, an actress portraying an Apache woman squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe, and feathers inappropriately positioned on a teepee.
Speaking of teepees: One of the more controversial jokes to emerge from the script features Sandler’s character asking a Native woman, “How about we go someplace and I put my peepee in your teepee?”
Navajo Nation tribal member Loren Anthony, who originally turned down a role in the film before being told that the producers had hired a cultural consultant, says that things were “weird” on set from day one:
We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche,” he said. “One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s breath. One character says ‘Hey, Beaver’s Breath.’ And the Native woman says, ‘How did you know my name?’….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.
Added Allison Young, another member of the Navajo Nation who left in protest, “Nothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians.”
Shortly after the disruption, former entertainer Vanilla Ice, who has been cast as Mark Twain in the film, came to it and Sandler’s defense. Ice gave possibly the softest sell of his entire career in an interview with TMZ, during which he said “I don’t think anybody really had any ill feeling or any intent or anything. This movie isn’t Dances With Wolves. It’s a comedy. They’re not there to showcase anything about anybody–they’re just making a funny movie, I think. I don’t have anything to do with it. I just play my part.”
Ice also claims Choctaw ancestry, though that particular rumor has never been substantiated.
(Photo credits: WENN)