Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Sherman Alexie Might Say


If famed Native American award-winning author Sherman Alexie were to say anything, he’d talk about Johnny Depp, and the wonderful thing Johnny has done, taking upon himself the collective guilt of the white race—over its treatment of Native Americans—by generously starring as Tonto in the new Lone Ranger movie.

Hollywood used to divide the world, or at least the West, between Good and Bad Indians. He, Johnny Depp, Executive Producer of the new Lone Ranger movie, has flipped the script, dividing the world, or at least the West, between Good and Bad whites. Most, needless to say, are Bad—from cretinous backwoods-crazy Cavendish and his gang, to genocidal “civilized” folks expanding non-environmentally approved railroad development West. Johnny Depp is showing this, on a big screen, for the benefit of all, while proclaiming to the world from his Cross of Guilt that he Johnny Depp is a Good white man. Maybe the only one.

Does everyone see what Johnny has done?

He’s made Tonto—Tonto!—the star, and relegated the kemo sabe Lone Ranger to sidekick. Or afterthought. To make things more humorous, the Lone Ranger is played by Armie Hammer, scion to billions.

We have enlightened white man Depp, in white face—reverse Al Jolson; get it?—with a bird on his head, showing less enlightened even more privileged Armie how to be as enlightened as he, Johnny Depp, is enlightened.

If you thought the movie was about the West, or the Lone Ranger, or even Native Americans, you'd be wrong. It’s about the guilt of the civilization which built the railroads and not incidentally created the movie studios and their obscene profits (or, in this case, losses). More than this, it’s about Johnny Depp. It’s about the position of being a hyper-successful Hollywood actor when you know down deep you don’t deserve it. The only way to mock that success which you hate but you need and want is to incessantly mock it and the entire studio-CGI-fake Hollywood system behind it, and the media, and yourself, by playing a clown.

It’s about collective guilt and it’s also about Hollywood narcissism backed by non-Native American western-technology technocrats and hundreds of millions of bucks. Er, the green kind.

Depp is repeating the same crime he opposes. He doesn’t know it, yet very much knows it at the same time. He’s making the precious privileged white person—himself—and his progressively-sensitive feelings the center of the narrative. Generous stand-in for the genuine article, which presumably couldn’t be found. You see, it’s the only way it could work, even if it turns out it didn’t work. We know it’s not Tonto beneath the make-up. It’s Johnny Depp!

“Johnny Depp Died for Your Sins.” It’s not about Native Americans. Not at all about Native Americans. It’s about Johnny Depp expiating his own feelings of guilt with his overdone get-up and his play-acting posturing he’s crucifying himself before Hollywood cameras—and making millions of white man dollars in the process.

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It’s popularly priced. Better than a flop Hollywood film.)

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