By Arturo R. García
If Adam Sandler thought his brand of “humor” would keep getting a pass in 2015, the past few days have surely disabused him of that notion.
As Indian Country Today Media Network reported, about a dozen Native American actors on his upcoming Netflix film, The Ridiculous Six, abandoned the production over the material.
“We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche,” said actor Loren Anthony, a Navajo Nation member. “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?’”
ICTMN also posted video taken on the set from another performer, Goldie Tom, showing actors voicing their concerns to an unidentified producer.
“We don’t need to sell out our people,” one actor says in the footage.
“I understand completely,” the producer replies. “But we’re not gonna change ‘Beaver Breath.’”
Defamer’s Jordan Sargent posted excerpts from a version of the script, which featured characters named Sits-On-Face, Never-Wears-Bra and Smoking Fox.
“It’s no surprise, of course, that Adam Sandler has written another movie overflowing with the kinds of jokes that might feel edgy to an 11-year-old who finally understands what sex is,” Sargent observed.
The story quickly picked up traction nationally, blossoming into a rare public blunder for Netflix, which was just coming off the largely-favorable reception for Marvel’s new Daredevil series. And the budding broadcast hub chose to address the issue with a somewhat warmed-over statement.
“The movie has Ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous,” the company stated. “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.”
While Sandler himself has not weighed in, the chorus of Native Americans supporting the actors has only grown. Natives In America founder Megan Red Shirt-Shaw, a past Racialicious contributor, organized the #NotYourHollywoodIndian tag to rally attention to the incident.
And Netflix itself now faces the prospect of a boycott, as the #WalkOffNetflix campaign is also gaining steam. Online supporters are threatening to abandon the streaming service if it does not cancel Sandler’s project.
Meanwhile, the production staff has reportedly reached out to the actors who left the set, including 74-year-old Choctaw performer David Hill.
“I hope they will listen to us,” said Hill, a member of the American Indian Movement. “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.”