“The movie has ‘ridiculous’ in the title for a reason — because it’s 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.”
So comments Netflix in the wake of the recent exodus of a dozen Native American extras from the set of Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous Six, its first film in a four-movie deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. The comedy features characters with names like “Beaver’s Breath” and “No Bra,” so, yes, “ridiculous” certainly seems to be the aim of the script. Yet what’s even more ridiculous is Netflix’s tone-deaf assertion that the film features a cast “in on the joke.” Really?
I decided to approach Sundance vet Sterlin Harjo (Four Sheets to the Wind, Barking Water), who I interviewed prior to the 2014 Park City premiere of This May Be the Last Time – a very personal documentary that looks back at the events behind the mysterious disappearance of Harjo’s grandfather, alongside the history of the Muscogee (Creek) hymns the Seminole community sang as it searched for him. Harjo, whose latest Mekko is set to debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival, is not only refreshingly vocal about what he sees as pragmatic solutions to Hollywood’s insidiously ingrained misrepresentations of indigenous people, but also about avoiding unintentionally harmful easy fixes. (Hint: Don’t cancel that Netflix subscription just yet.)
To read my interview visit Filmmaker magazine.