Movie Boycott -Stereotyping Native People

CBodif9907 at CBodif9907 at
Sun Jan 23 19:02:41 UTC 2000

    Just because I was one of the people that helped prolong this discussion,
I'll respond to this quckly to clear up some misunderstandings about my
position at least.

<< What is wrong with the movie's "history"? Not having seen it (obviously),
 I can only go by the description we have been given, but it seems that the
 movie makers have taken the most easily stereotyped vignettes from the
 Cortez enterprise and applied them to an entirely fictional "El Dorado"
 quest in a way that inevitably makes for bad history.>>

Never argued with that, just thought people should possibly see at least a
trailer or an ad or a clip or a piece of the script or SOMETHING before
instituting a boycott.  It would not suprise me one bit if cultural
stereotypes are exagerrated in an insulting or at least misleading way.  If
that is the case, by all means boycott away!  But what is the problem with
actually being personally informed on the matter before instantly falling in
line with the boycotters?  It's important for a protest against negative
stereotypes to be taken seriously.  Why boycott unless there is some desire
to have your cause acknowledged to make a difference?  If you want to make a
difference, it helps if you show everyone that you have done your homework
first.  The protesters objecting to the use of the seminole mascot in
Tallahasse are a perfect example.  There was one native american gentleman
who really affected alot of people because he had a reasoned argument that
made alot of sense.  The dumb white kids (I'm white btw) who showed up, at
least the ones I spoke to, really had nothing to offer, they just saw a
protest and hopped in line.  But the native american gentleman I spoke with
really won me over, not withstanding the official position of the Seminole
Tribe of Florida that they do not object to the use of their name by the
college.  That may be for financial reasons and not representative of the
majority of the tribal members.

 >>1. This is admittedly the common version given in most accounts of the
 conquest, but it is based on astonishingly thin evidence. The entire
 "Cortes-Quetzalcoatl" scenario appears only in the later accounts. While
 it is fairly clear that Nahuas applied the term "teotl" to the Spanish
 early on, it is also clear that the Spanish thought they were being called
 "gods" and that they relished the idea, despite the fact that the Nahuas
 never revered them as gods. To pretend that identifying "whites" as gods
 is a generic "native" reaction to "superior strangers" is arguably racist.>>

I do not think anyone said that this was a generic reaction.  I certainly
didn't.  That didn't occur in the Andes, and it didn't occur anywhere on the
eastern seaboard of North America that I am aware.  The Apalache in
particular were exceptionally hostile to the Spanish, probably because they
were on notice that they were unsavory characters who would carry them off
into slavery given the chance.  All I think Craig was indicating was that
there were a remarkable number of religious coincidences operating to Cortez
advantage.  I know I certainly didn't mean to imply that the Spanish were
"worshipped."  All I meant indicate was that when confronted by men with
firearms riding horses for the first time, given the significance of the year
of there arrival, that ALONE would have been reason for some of the Nahua
people to have looked for some divine explanation for the appearance of these
strange and dangerous people.  That is a universal human reaction.  The
outlandish is usually explained by labeling it in some way supernatural.  And
all that Cortez needed to perpetuate for his advantage was the apprehension
that he might Quetzalcoatl.  Or at least that he might have some divine
powers.  I absolutely did NOT mean that it is a universal reaction to worship
white people as Gods.  That certainly is a racist stereotype, and I do not
htink that was implied by either of our statements.  My position was simply
that when powerful religious factors coincide with the appearance of
of people of an unknown racial type in strange vessels from across the sea,
there may be some apprehension at least that their technological prowess,
strange dress, and strange animals may indicate soome divine or supernatural
origin.  Or at the very least, everyone might err on the side of caution just
incase the weird new people have supernatural powers.  In every account I
have read of Moctezuma's reaction to the arrival of Cortez, I have imagined
myself having the same reaction to Cortez. Basically "These guys are weird
and tough, and just in case this IS Quetzalcoatl, I better be nice."  I do
not see how that can be equated with implying that all native people thought
whites were Gods.  That is unfair.  The native americans who encountered the
pilgrim settlers of New England thought they were weird looking, piteous,
clueless people who were unable to care for themselves.

 >>2. But certainly not a sidekick in the Hollywood sense, nor was she a
 voluptuous seductress, and to turn her into that (rather than the
 embattled, enslaved, but highly intelligent survivor -- and probably a
 teenager -- that she was) is Hollywoodization of history at its worst.

I agree, that is reprehensible.  This woman may have had an amazing life, and
her youth and coercion may explain her cooperation with Cortez.  It was
probably a matter of survival.

  political terror as well as for religious purposes.

>> 3. So what does the absolutely exceptional case of late Tenochtitlan have
 to do with any mythical El Dorado? Why take the most objectional aspect of
 one society and make it emblematic of "Native" religion elsewhere,
 particularly if (as you recognize yourself) the use of sacrifice in late
 Tenochtitlan was more political than religious? (Especially if the film
 does not at the same time depict the abandon with which Europeans killed
 and raped in the course of their conquests.)>>

Typical Disney, they are looking for something dramatic, it's that simple.
And I think it probably ought to be boycotted if all that is being said about
the film is true.

 >>My apologies to all for prolonging this discussion. I'll bow out now.
 David Frye

    I also apologize for prolonging this, particularly because this message
was directed at Craig.  I wanted to clear up any misperceptions people might
have about my position, and I thought the comment about "natives thinking
whites were gods" was unfair, neither of us said or would support such a
position.  History would not allow such a claim to stand.  North American
American settlement and exploration by Europeans is a history of conflict,
not a history of worship.  In every instance I can think of besides the
conquest of the Mexica Empire, native people of the Americas have been quite
willing to fight it out with European interlopers, or to trade with them out
of compassion for their helplessness.  I was speaking only to one remarkable
chain of events in Mesoamerica, it was not a blanket statement or anything
pertaining to race.

Case Bodiford

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