Movie Boycott -Stereotyping Native People

Craig Berry cberry at
Sun Jan 23 06:44:57 UTC 2000

On Sat, 22 Jan 2000 ECOLING at wrote:

> I have *not* seen this movie,
> and I am *not* making assumptions about what it really contains.

Yet below you seem to be doing just that.

> But I am commenting about the response to the original posting.
> Based on my knowledge of many other misrepresentations
> of pre-European cultures of the Americas,
> I would bet that this movie may be much of what the author
          ^^^ Isn't that saying you're making an assumption?
> of the first message under this title says it is.
> At least the author deserves the respect of considering that
> he or she may be correct in this.

Considering it is fine.  Calling for a boycott without having viewed the
movie is absurd prejudice, in the most literal sense of that term.

> I would bet:
> 1)  That the sacrifice aspects of ancient American cultures are exaggerated
>      and sensationalized in a way Europeans would never want to see
>      their own less savory attributes exaggerated.

And yet consider how the very same company exaggerated the unsavory side
of Christian clerics in 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame', yet as I recall no
Europeans called for a boycott on that basis.  Storytelling, especially
for children, is *about* exaggeration, larger-than-life heroes and

>      That would be a form of dishonesty, if so.

So is 'fiction', of course.  But again, we're seeing a call for a *real*
boycott based on *hypothetical* aspects of the movie.

Rather reminds me of the ruckus way back when over a movie titled "The
Prophet", about Mohammed.  Moslems were enraged that an image of Mohammed
would be seen on screen, violating a restriction of their religion.  Some
even commited acts of terrorism in protest.  It turned out that the movie
was shot entirely from Mohammed's point of view, and thus he never
appeared on screen.

>      People get away with that sort of thing, when they do, primarily
>      because it is about "primitive others", not about those currently in
> power.

Now come on.  Again, see Hunchback.  Or Pocohontas, where the evil
rapacious Europeans are the key villains in the plot.  Or any number of
other examples.  If anything, we're seeing a cultural turn where the
"others" are good guys disproportionately.

> 2)  That the high-culture aspects of ancient American cultures are greatly
>      understated.
>      That would be a form of dishonesty, if so.

"If so."  Would it not seem wiser to wait and see?

> Claiming that a particular fact is TRUE is in no sense by itself evidence
> that a presentation about another is TRUE in any sense of balance
> or realism.

I'm not sure I follow your assertion, here.

> So get real, and stop pretending that the "others"
> who are not currently in power are treated in any balanced way,
> with any respect for their virtues.

I don't believe I'm pretending.  Perhaps it's because I live in Southern
California, but I rarely see other cultures presented in less than glowing
terms; in fact, as I mentioned, it frequently seems to be the case that
flaws and failures of other societies are ignored while those of American
and European society are endlessly reiterated.

> They are not, and we all know it.
> Let's at least try to do something about it,

Doing something would seem best reserved when we have established their is
actually an 'it' to be dealt with, wouldn't you think?

   |   Craig Berry - cberry at
   |   "The road of Excess leads to the Palace
      of Wisdom" - William Blake

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