Approximately a dozen Native actors and actresses, as well as the Native cultural advisor, left the set of Adam Sandler’s newest film production, The Ridiculous Six, on Wednesday. The actors, who were primarily from the Navajo nation, left the set after the satirical western’s script repeatedly insulted native women and elders and grossly misrepresented Apache culture.
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.
The film, which is said to be a spoof of The Magnificent Sevenand was written by Adam Sandler and his frequent collaborator Tim Herlihy, is currently under production by Happy Madison Productions for a Netflix-only release. The movie will star Adam Sandler, Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz and Vanilla Ice.
Among the actors who walked off the set were Navajo Nation tribal members Loren Anthony, who is also the lead singer of the metal band Bloodline, and film student Allison Young. Anthony says that though he understands the movie is a comedy, the portrayal of the Apache was severely negligent and the insults to women were more than enough reason to walk off the set.
“There were about a dozen of us who walked off the set,” said Anthony, who told ICTMN he had initially refused to do the movie. He then agreed to take the job when producers informed him they had hired a cultural consultant and efforts would be made for tasteful representation of Natives.
“I was asked a long time ago to do some work on this and I wasn't down for it. Then they told me it was going to be a comedy, but it would not be racist. So I agreed to it but on Monday things started getting weird on the set,” he said.
Anthony says he was first insulted that the movie costumes that were supposed to portray Apache were significantly incorrect and that the jokes seemed to get progressively worse.
"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.”
Allison Young, Navajo, a former film student from Dartmouth, was also offended by the stereotypes portrayed and the outright disrespect paid to her and others by the director and producers.
"When I began doing this film, I had an uneasy feeling inside of me and I felt so conflicted," she said. "I talked to a former instructor at Dartmouth and he told me to take this as finally experiencing stereotyping first hand. We talked to the producers about our concerns. They just told us, 'If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.' I was just standing there and got emotional and teary-eyed. I didn’t want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way.”
“Nothing has changed,” said Young. “We are still just Hollywood Indians.”
Goldie Tom also shared her frustrations with ICTMN. "I felt this was all really disrespectful," she said. "Our costumes did not portray Apache people. The consultant, Bruce spoke to the crew and told them we should not have braids and chokers and he was very disappointed. He asked to speak with Adam Sandler. We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said 'It's in the script and we are not going to change it.' Overall, we were just treated disrespectfully, the spoke down to us and treated everyone with strong tones.”
74-year old David Hill, Choctaw, a member of the American Indian Movement, also left the set. "They were being disrespectful," he said. "They were bringing up those same old arguments that Dan Snyder uses in defending the Redskins. But let me tell you, our dignity is not for sale. It is a real shame because a lot of people probably stay because they need a job.”
Hill also mentioned that the producers called back the consultant as well as other native actors to their departure from the set on Wednesday.
“I hope they will listen to us," Hill said. "We understand this is a comedy, we understand this is humor, but we won’t tolerate disrespect. I told the director if he had talked to a native woman the way they were talked to in this movie—I said I would knock his ass out.”
“This isn’t my first rodeo, if someone doesn’t speak up, no one will.”
Neither Adam Sandler nor anyone for Happy Madison Productions responded to our attempts in reaching out to them for comment.
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In an exclusive video obtained by one of the actors on set, Goldie Tom, Native Actors discuss their disappointment on the set of the Adam Sandler movie. During the discussion one of the producers tells the actors, “Here’s the thing, If you are overly sensitive about it… then you should probably leave.”
The actors are visibly frustrated at the remarks.
Other comments from the producer and crewmembers include “We have a lot to lose, Adam Sandler is playing a person that loves you guys, he’s the Hero” and that they would not change the Native character’s name Beaver’s Breath.
The Ridiculous Sixstory posted by Indian Country Today Media Network has since gone viral and media outlets from across the country have also posted the story.
Follow Correspondent Vincent Schilling on Twitter – www.Twitter.com/VinceSchilling.
Native actors who walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s movie The Ridiculous Sixmanaged to snap a quick photograph of one of the pages of the script that shows offensive language and insults to native women. In the scene, characters "Beaver Breath," "Smoking Fox" and "Never Wears Bra" discuss the novelty of toilet paper, and it is revealed that their own approach to hygiene involves keeping their private parts clean with dead animals.
Additionally, the characters speak in broken stereotypical English.
The script reads as follows:
EXT. CREEK OUTSIDE APACHE VILLAGE – LATER
The Creek area is busy. Braves spear-fish while children play in the water.
Smoking Fox is on the banks of the creek, doing laundry with her best friends: a 30-ish chubby woman, BEAVER BREATH, and a younger woman, NEVER WEARS BRA (both Apache).
I have a big idea for your wedding: we decorate trees with toilet paper!
What is this “toilet paper”?
Paper used to clean your chi-wat after taking a chungo.
That what dead squirrel for!
Why we all so afraid to try something new in this village? Must I speak with the spirits to see if it "okay" to have clean chi-wat without murdering innocent rodent?
Whoa somebody "on the raccoon" today…
As they all laugh, smoking Fox looks over at Tommy. He is surrounded by kids. He shoots an arrow in the air, and catches it with his teeth. The kids are impressed.
You lucky, Smoking Fox. White Knife all man. Bravest of all braves.
Not brave, foolish. I want to be wife, not widow.
* * *
The Gawker website Defamer obtained an earlier version of the script, which includes a female character named "Sits-on-Face," who inspires another character to declare "Well then, I'm Stiff-In-Pants!" It also includes the one-liner "How bout after this we go someplace and I put my peepee in your teepee?" LINK: These Are the Jokes That Caused Actors To Walk Off Adam Sandler's Set
Follow correspondent Vincent Schilling on www.twitter.com/VinceSchilling
On Wednesday, about a dozen Native American actors walked off the set of The Ridiculous Six, a film being made by Adam Sandler through his production company Happy Madison and intended for a Netflix release. The actors objected to elements of the screenplay and action that they found stereotypical, offensive and demeaning. Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation, has come out in support of the actors, saying in a statement that "Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter. ... Enough is enough."
The full statement from the Navajo Nation is below:
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz.— Native American stereotypes in film must end.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly was appalled to hear about the negative portrayal of Native Americans in the Adam Sandler film, The Ridiculous Six, currently in production.
Several Navajo actors walked out on the production earlier this week after gross misrepresentation of the Apache culture and derogatory dialogue against native women.
They were also disgusted with female character names like Beaver’s Breath and No Bra.
Regardless of the comedic nature of the film, President Shelly said such disrespect against Native Americans is uncalled for in this day and age.
“Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter. I applaud these Navajo actors for their courage and conviction to walk off the set in protest,” President Shelly said. “Native people have dealt with negative stereotypes on film for too long.
“Enough is enough,” he added.
The Navajo Nation Office of Broadcast Services ensures cultural accuracy in scripts for films and commercials produced on the Nation. Such stereotypes and racially discriminatory characterizations are not filmed on Navajo land.
Kee Long, program manager for NNOBS, said his staff review proposed scripts that are sent to the office for film licenses.
“We had a script not too long ago, from a French company that was doing a film on alcoholism,” Long said.
The script was a portrayal of the Sioux Nation. Long asked the production company why they did not film on Sioux tribal lands. He was not provided an answer and the production did not take place.
For Navajo subject matter, the NNOBS staff verify proper portrayal. They coordinate with the respective tribal departments to verify accuracy.
“Two independent filmmakers submitted a script for filming recently on the tribal dog population. We coordinated with the Navajo Fish and Wildlife Department and Animal Control for review of the script,” Kee said.
The Navajo Nation does not allow racially discriminatory scripts to be filmed on Navajo land.