Native Actors Leave Adam Sandler Set Due to Insulting Cultural Depictions

BY Josiah HughesPublished Apr 23, 2015

Eternally sweatpantsed comedic buffoon Adam Sandler is not exactly the first person that comes to mind when we think of cultural sensitivity, but the inexplicably long-running actor-director-producer has crossed the line in his depictions of native peoples in a new Netflix movie.

As Indian Country Today Media Network reports, approximately 12 people left the set of Sandler's new film The Ridiculous Six on Wednesday (April 22) following concerns that the film was too insulting to native cultures.

According to the report, the film included disrespectful fake native names like "Beaver's Breath" and "No Bra," and the set also included an Apache woman squatting and urinating while she smoked a peace pipe. Further, the report describes "feathers inappropriately positioned on a teepee."

The Ridiculous Six stars Sandler alongside Nick Nolte, Steve Buscemi, Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz and Vanilla Ice. It's being produced by Sandler's Happy Madison for a Netflix only release.

Loren Anthony (pictured above left, beside Adam Sandler) also serves as lead singer for the metal band Bloodline. He initially turned down a role in the movie, but changed his mind when he was assured that the filmmakers had hired a cultural consultant to offer a "tasteful representation" of native culture.

"I was asked a long time ago to do some work on this and I wasn't down for it," he told ICTMN. "Then they told me it was going to be a comedy, but it would not be racist. So I agreed to it but on Monday things started getting weird on the set.

"We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche.... 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?' They just treated us as if we should just be on the side. When we did speak with the main director, he was trying to say the disrespect was not intentional and this was a comedy."

Goldie Tom, another actress from the film, echoed these frustrations and said the filmmakers wouldn't budge on their script. "Our costumes did not portray Apache people," she said. "The consultant, Bruce spoke to the crew and told them we should not have braids and chokers and he was very disappointed. He asked to speak with Adam Sandler. We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said 'It's in the script and we are not going to change it.' Overall, we were just treated disrespectfully, the spoke down to us and treated everyone with strong tones."

David Hill, Choctaw, of the American Indian Movement, adds that "they were being disrespectful," saying, "They were bringing up those same old arguments that Dan Snyder uses in defending the Redskins. But let me tell you, our dignity is not for sale. It is a real shame because a lot of people probably stay because they need a job.

"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."

Representatives from Happy Madison Productions did not respond to Indian Country Today Media Network's request for comment.

Update: Netflix has responded to the criticism in a statement to Deadline. "The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous," a spokesperson said. "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." 

​Update 2: Dialogue from the film's screenplay has leaked online and, well, it's pretty rough.

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