Indian Country Today is reporting that about a dozen Native actors walked off the set of The Ridiculous Six, Adam Sandler’s aggressively horrible-sounding Western parody movie. The actors, who are mostly from the Navajo Nation, told the site they left over the film’s tasteless, offensive and inaccurate portrayal of the “Apache” characters, as well as its treatment of women.
According to Indian Country Today, the actors left the set on Wednesday, after complaints about several aspects of the movie, which sounds like something a racist five-year-old would write during a meditative break from lying facedown in the toilet merrily blowing bubbles in his own poop water. The actors told the site that several “Apache” characters were given names like No Bra and Beaver’s Breath, and depicted things like “an actress portraying an Apache woman squatting and urinating while smoking a peace pipe, and feathers inappropriately positioned on a teepee.”
According to IMBD, Ridiculous Six, a parody of The Magnificent Seven, features Sandler, Will Forte, Steve Buscemi (no, Steve, whyyyyy), Danny Trejo and Vanilla Ice, who plays Mark fucking Twain. The only Native characters named on the IMDB page are “Screaming Eagle” and “Smoking Fox.” The film was delayed after being dropped by Warner Brothers. Sony and Paramount also passed on it, before it eventually landed at Netflix. Solid gold, for sure.
Loren Anthony, a Navajo Nation member, told Indian Country Today he’d initially refused to do the film, but agreed after being assured that a “cultural consultant” had been hired to make sure it wasn’t a racist, sexist shitpile. That didn’t work out so well. After several days of excitedly tweeting about life on set, Anthony shared this on Wednesday:
Allison Young, a Navajo actor and filmmaker, told Indian Country her concerns about the tone of the movie were ignored:
“When I began doing this film, I had an uneasy feeling inside of me and I felt so conflicted,” she said. “I talked to a former instructor at Dartmouth and he told me to take this as finally experiencing stereotyping first hand. We talked to the producers about our concerns. They just told us, ‘If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.’ I was just standing there and got emotional and teary-eyed. I didn’t want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way.”
“Nothing has changed,” said Young. “We are still just Hollywood Indians.”
This isn't the first time Sandler's movies have been called out for being, you know, really fucking bad: A.O. Scott's 2004 review of the flop Spanglish called it "a movie that simultaneously idealizes motherhood and demonizes mothers, in a way that smacks both of vengeful antifeminism and racist condescension." In 2014, he pointed out that the Drew Barrymore-featuring equal flop Blended featured "quasi-zoological depiction of Africans as servile, dancing, drum-playing simpletons."
Adam Sandler's entire career has been a slide from the aggressive but mostly benign mediocrity into active terribleness. Will this be his nadir, or will people keep giving him endless amounts of money to assault our eyeballs with racist garbage, bad impressions and female characters so plasticine they could be played by a tub of KY Jelly with lipstick smeared on the lid? Why do I even ask?
Update, 4/24: Vulture got this response from Netflix: "The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. 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.” Not all of the cast, it would seem.
Sandler in September 2014. Image via Getty