Adam Sandler is making a new movie, The Ridiculous 6, which is slated to air on Netflix at some point. It’s a spoof of Westerns, the title is a play on The Magnificent Seven, and it stars Sandler as a guy who’s raised in a band of Apaches after being adopted by them as a child. It’s the kind of premise that, were it masterminded by Mel Brooks, could probably be really f*cking funny, but the minute I heard Sandler was coming for my heritage, I felt a chill. I’ve dealt with the Pocahontas jokes and the Washington Entitled Twats football controversy my whole life, plus a hundred other indignities I’m expected to just let go of on a daily basis. But asking me to tolerate Adam Sandler’s twat-wafflery is a step too far. This is my line in the sand.
Apparently it’s a bunch of other people’s line, too, because yesterday Indian Country Today broke the news that a dozen Native actors and crew members, including the movie’s cultural advisor, walked off the set in protest of the racist, crass depiction of Native people and culture in the movie. The issues range from the academic(the costumes are more in line with Comanche dress than Apache), to the sexist (a Native female character is named “Beaver’s Breath”), to the degrading (a woman is seen peeing while smoking a peace pipe). So Sandler’s got all his asshole bases covered.
Netflix then made the situation worse by doubling-down with a non-apology, stating, “The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. 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.” You know what? I’ve been expected to be “in on the joke” my entire life. School picture defaced to make it look like I’m wearing war paint? It’s a joke! Soccer jersey marked up to read “Sacajawea”? So funny! Why are you upset about the football team? It’s meant as an honor!
Allison Young, a Navajo actress, says she was told by a producer, “If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.” Well they did, and good for them, but man, that attitude. That’s the same attitude Jeremy Renner expressed yesterday regarding his sexist comments about the Black Widow—I’m sorry you’re offended. It’s always our problem, isn’t it? Someone else’s sexism, racism, or homophobia is never their issue—it’s ours for being upset. I don’t think the issue is that people are over-sensitive these days, it’s that people aren’t willing to bear someone else’s dumbassery anymore. For the most part, we aren’t mad when someone says a dumb thing, we’re mad because we’re expected to go along with it like nothing happened. We’re less willing to sit down and shut up when someone is being a tool.
I defended Trevor Noah’s right to tell bad jokes on his way to better comedy, so I’ll cut Sandler the same break—they’re still filming. He could always re-write and edit the movie to be less offensive. Maybe having a dozen people walk off set will be a wake-up call that his jokes have to get better. But Sandler’s track record is not good—unlike Noah, who actually is a pretty sharp stand-up—and Netflix’s crap statement is disheartening. That doesn’t sound like, “Oh sh*t, we’ve f*cked up and now we’re going to fix it.” That sounds an awful lot like “sit down and shut up”. You know what? NO. You’re being a tool, and that’s your problem, not mine.