3.05.2013

Dr. Jessica Metcalfe continues to inspire.

Check out what Paul Frank Industries did to earn a Buck @ Beyond Buckskin.
This post was initially written when the issue at Paul Frank Industries occurred, but I neglected to post it.

6.06.2012

Departing Syracuse, v1.2

Nearly two years ago, I blogged (http://torrymendoza.blogspot.com/2010/10/giving-up-on-syracuse.html) that I was going to depart Syracuse to head back to Boulder (end of July 2011) with the possibility of finding a teaching position. Since that blog, events have occurred that have changed the direction of my life for the time being. I will remain always chasing my dreams and hope to one day return to Boulder, hopefully for good, but I am not the one to say whether that will happen or not. For now, I have a wonderful job working with stellar people and I will take full advantage of what I am doing, and hopefully find my path clearer than it has been. Things are good, Syracuse is okay, but it's no Boulder.

Andrew MacLean's, "On The Ice" coming Friday

Upcoming soon, I will be posting a review of Andrew MacLean's, On The Ice per a request from a digital promoter with Total Assault LLC.

5.25.2012

Johnny Depp's Got Papers. It's Official He's Comanche.

JOHNNY DEPP'S GOT PAPERS NOW, HE'S BEEN GIVEN CREDENTIALS 

So, word has spread across the Internet like a wildfire in the southwest, but the Apache 8 aren't there to comment on this absurdity. If you haven't guessed, Johnny Depp is officially a Comanche. He can now ignore his Cherokee ancestry he so steadfastly clung to while being vetted of his "Nativeness." Or was it Creek? Well that doesn't matter any longer because the Comanche adopted him. I guess he'll be selling his estate in France and flying to Oklahoma or New Mexico (where his adoption ceremony took place):

(New Mexico Business Weekly by Megan Kamerick, Senior Reporter
Date: Monday, May 21, 2012, 5:09pm MDT

I'm a little dismayed that he would forgo his Cherokee-ness to become Comanche. You know, deny who you say you are to become who you want to be. But that's not unlike what his entire life has been up to this point, maybe this is an apex moment. I mean he has lived a life of lies acting, not literal lies, but pretend lies. He has pretended to be a pirate, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, an undercover cop in high schools, a scissor-fingered gothic Frankenstein creation, a Public Enemy, a Mad Hatter, an undercover FBI agent, just to name a few, and now his resume will include an Indian and no longer only the kind played on the silver screen, or by young boys with brightly colored feathers in some ridiculous looking headdress. Nope, he has finally realized his dream of becoming Indigenous. I'm not sure but I believe his condition exists somewhere within the pages of the DSM-IV.

In the above article, LaDonna Harris mentions,
It seemed like a natural fit to officially welcome him into our Comanche family. I reached out, and Johnny was very receptive to the idea. He seemed proud to receive the invitation, and we were honored that he so enthusiastically agreed. 
I'm a little lost for words that by PLAYING INDIAN (a phenomenon coined by Phillip DeLoria), specifically Tonto, more specifically a Comanche, makes it "a natural fit" to adopt Depp into the Comanche Nation. Thousands of little kids play "Cowboys and Indians" all the time, some kids are Lakota, some are Pawnee, some are Apache. It makes sense that Depp would be "receptive to the idea . . ." while enthusiastically agreeing to do so, it's nearly every kid's fantasy to be NDN--and it's been no different for Depp, claiming different tribal ties in various interviews as well as directing a film in which for the first time he PLAYED INDIAN, The Brave (1997).  Unfortunately, what Depp is doing isn't catapulting Indigenous culture into the 21st century, nor is his pretending combatting negative stereotypes surrounding NDNs.* On the contrary, his actions are perpetuating stereotypes that continue to diminish who We are by the cinematic mode.

Depp's portrayal, the actual act of taking a role away from a Native actor (playing red face), not his acting, is insidious. He is perpetuating myths about Native people in a medium that is so disseminated and more often than not in America--Americans educate themselves with popular culture--Americans believe, or at least get their information from what they see on the screen, the portrayals by actors (you know pretending to be NDN) as historically accurate and acceptable. These manifestations are so damaging that they hinder Us from moving forward in the 21st century because We are being relegated to anachronistic versions of Ourselves making Our present all the more difficult to negotiate.

Now, whatever the Comanche Nation wants to do is their business, but I'm not sure how Johnny Depp's "acting" role as Tonto in The Lone Ranger has anything to do with adopting a movie star into a tribe. Maybe I'm missing something? Comanche Nation Tribal Chairman, Johnny Wauqua commented about Depp in a news release that,
He's a very thoughtful human being, and throughout his life and career, he has exhibited traits that are aligned with the values and worldview that indigenous people share. 
Really? I'm a bit perplexed in regards to Depp's "exhibited traits" aligning him with Indigenous people. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure he gives money to worthy causes, and he's probably a very nice guy. But just why didn't his directorial debut film, The Brave (1997) ever hit a screen in North America? Was it really because of the negative reception it received at the Canne Film Festival? Was he hurt because his moment of make-believe wasn't believable (that no one could believe he was Native, onscreen or off)? The Brave (1997) didn't receive rave reviews, and therefore by association Johnny Depp wasn't validated as BEING INDIAN, which negated his fantasy of BECOMING INDIAN. I think these particular acts speak volumes when it comes to "exhibited traits."

In my opinion, this is a simple case of someone being starstruck, "it seemed a natural fit to officially welcome him into our Comanche family." Is that what "IT" is? Never is "it" elaborated upon, unless you assume Depp's role as a fictional Comanche is "IT."
________________________________________________

To add to my argument I reference my earlier post, Johnny Depp to Play Tonto, Once Again Depp Has Some Degree of NDN Blood? Perfect Timing!
and elaborate that Depp mentions in an interview (Linthicum, Albuquerque Journal, 3/8/2012) how he'll handle the years of stereotyped portrayals of Natives in film. Apparently, through his performance he imagines he will somehow combat these stereotypes by not acting like the stereotypes, but what he fails to comprehend is no matter how good his intentions, the mere fact of him portraying an Indigenous persona, real or fictional, is what will contribute to the damage toll of Indigenous representation in film. One of the most problematic issues of Native Representation in film was and continues to be non-Natives playing the role of Natives. This has got to stop. It's 2012 and there are enough Native actors to play these parts, but it's Hollywood's lack of vision and bottom line that perpetuates the utilization of non-Native movie stars in the roles of Native characters.

3.08.2012

Johnny Depp to Play Tonto, Once Again Depp Has Some Degree of NDN Blood? Perfect Timing!

I'm pissed off, no, better yet I'm f**king outraged at what I am seeing regarding Johnny Depp's desire to speak for Native people through a fictional role on the silver screen via his vision of Tonto. Depp has claimed Native blood on various occasions via the Cherokee Nation, the Creek Nation and the Navajo Nation, most recently standing more concretely with his alleged ties to the Cherokee Nation--in NDN Country saying so, doesn't make it so.

But, if this is what Johnny Depp envisions Tonto to be:



Then I absolutely have to argue that he stole his Native "identity" from the Kirby Sattler painting, I Am Crow. Proof positive:



This whole concept from Depp is ridiculous. His vision to turn ". . . the way Indians were treated throughout history ‍of cinema, and turn it on its head” through the realization of the character Tonto is myopic at best (Linthicum, Albuquerque Journal, 3/8/2012). His comprehension of what has happened to Indigenous people is from the colonizer's perspective. He has no inside first-hand knowledge aside from his sense of how Tonto was wronged in the television series, The Lone Ranger. When the idea of this film came to him, Depp thought, ". . . about Tonto and what could be done in my own small way (to) try to — ‘eliminate’ isn’t possible —but reinvent the relationship, to attempt to take some ‍of the ugliness thrown on the Native Americans" (Linthicum, Albuquerque Journal, 3/8/2012). Has he ever played a Native American role? Yes, in his 1997 film, The Brave. This film was never released in the U.S. (North America) and I wonder why? Because the film is based on the book of the same name by Fletch author, Gregory McDonald--which is steeped in Native American stereotypes, that's why.

There is no escaping the fact that there is a plethora of Native American actors who could play this part infusing it with a realistic portrayal of Indigeneity, but Hollywood in its infinite wisdom, better yet, Johnny Depp, Gore Verbinski, Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney in their combined infinite wisdom believe that Depp's limited claim of Cherokee blood--remember his multiple claims to the Navajo and Creek Nations too--is enough to represent a, none-the-less fictional, Native character. After all, we do suspended disbelief while watching films, so how big of a stretch will it be for us to do so for this production? But that's not the issue. The issue is the continued persistance by Hollywood to negate the Native American in any role that involves Indigeneity. People love Johnny Depp, I get it, but his claims of Indigeneity have gone from the eastern seaboard to the southwest: Cherokee, then Creek and finally Navajo. Really? Really? How many times have we seen this? Too many.

I understand that this film is historical fiction, but that doesn't mean Our image has to be molested and reinvented on the silver screen. That's what Depp claims he wants to "turn on its head." But by concocting some over the top exaggerated caricature of what he thinks Native identity was or is, is doing more harm than good. I cannot say for sure that's what he's doing, but given his previous caricatures of the roles he's played, it's expected.

The counter argument to this is a sophomoric and often moronic one, that implies, "well then only White people should play White people, only Black people should play Black people," and dumbing down the argument to an absurd level, something like, "only police officers should portray police officers." Really? Really? How disconnected can one become? That argument is so off topic that it becomes sadly absurd. Now the argument becomes one contrasting ethnicity/identity with profession. This particular mindset is responsible for the Washington Redskins. Denigrate all you want, your argument is baseless, a foundation rooted in some no doubt sincere but misplaced perspective that one group of people is honoring another, yet without ever asking the other group if they feel honored.

Hollywood and Native American representation is a whole other monster. It's not about depicting portrayals or representations that honor Native Americans and their cultures. In all reality it indirectly concerns Native Americans. It's about entertainment--absent reality, absent truth--and completely commodified. No one actually cares about portraying Native Americans accurately, other than Native Americans and those individuals interested in accurate representations in film, media and elsewhere. The issue is polarizing because one set of people are concerned with the ignorance that is American history, where the Native American has vanished because of American popular culture's perpetuation of a myth they created, all the while wondering why We, Native Americans or Indigenous people, are up in arms over this projected fallacy; and then you have the other set of people, that believe it's only cinema or fiction and that accurate representations really needn't be considered. Unfortunately, that's where they're wrong. It is because of cinema and media and the rest of American popular culture that We as Indigenous people are often considered a vanquished people, represented in stereotypic fashion, because Our voices aren't loud enough to be heard over the din that is American ignorance, even better still, the machinery that is Hollywood and the mechanisms of cultural pedagogy.

2.22.2012

John Cusack

Okay, as a huge fan of John Cusack I have been compelled to attempt to make contact, not in person, but virtually via Twitter. I follow his tweets and he's in Syracuse shooting the film, Adult World. Now I'm not holding my breath that he'll ever respond to this lunatic tweeting at him asking if he'd like to get a glass of 21 year old Aberfeldy scotch or attend a tradish sweat on Onondaga, the two are diametrically opposed. But, the little kid in me holds out hope that some contact may be made somehow. If not, no big deal, it never hurts to try, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

8.23.2011

"The Lone Ranger" with Johnny Depp.

For now, the production of "The Lone Ranger" has been postponed, ah!