Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Native American actors did the right thing.

Richard Mellor

The problem with all the excuses that have come up around this issue is that there is history here.  Everyone is not equal, everyone has not had the same experience.  If that was not so there would be no need for cultural advisers. When I was in Iraq in 1971 I was not as political as I am  now. But I had become to understand more clearly the role of British colonialism in this area and wanted to dissociate myself from it.

I bought traditional clothes and wore them, a simple attire that working class Arabs wore. I couldn't afford anything else. Not that I needed anything else. I made it very clear that the Queen of England may be the same color as me, we both like tea and crumpets too perhaps but the similarity ends there. We having nothing else in common least of all our view of the world. My mother was a worker who left school at the age of 14.

These lame excuses that everyone is in on the joke are a bit like the defense of the cartoons insulting Mohammad by the French cartoonists. I do not condone what happened to them and I believe in free speech. But what we say has consequences and not only that, does what we say advance consciousness.  In that case French colonial oppression of the mostly Muslim Arabs of North Africa comes in to play as does the racism and inequality North African Arab Muslims face in France. All is not equal in history or the present.

The people whose roamed this continent were almost wiped out. Some of them were maybe, I know many languages have been. When I watch old US shows even those I might find entertaining or funny, when racism (and sexism) is so blatant particularly through the complete absence of any people other than European Americans except in stereotypical roles, I can't help thinking of the anger that must build up in people who are the victims of it.  What's it like when you see you have no existence in the mass media?  I feel that way as a worker. They don't teach working class history.  In crap Hollywood movies the main players if they're not cops, are lawyers, architects, writers. It's as if there's no truck drivers, welders or plumbers here unless we're portrayed as stupid, drunks or backward. But I do not feel excluded as a white person or as a person with an English accent. How they control themselves at times is a credit to our humanity.

I watched the Lone Ranger when I was a kid and I never knew Tonto meant stupid until I came to the US and lived and worked with Latinos. Imagine an actor having to play that role of a guy named stupid. Did he ever say, "Who are you to call me stupid"? (I'm so stupid I don't know where the question mark goes or if I should use two of them.) Of course he didn't he wouldn't have had a job.

Those actors were right to walk off the set of that stupid movie. You want to make some movie with the name ridiculous in it do a biopic of the Bush family.

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