The script included gags that traded on racist ideas about Native Americans.
Image via Grand Canyon National Park
Around a dozen Native American actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler’s The Ridiculous Six, taking issue with the film’s culturally insensitive and offensive script.
"They were being disrespectful," said one of the actors, 74-year-old David Hill, to ICTMN. "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.”
The script made jabs at Native culture by giving characters names such as Beaver’s Breath and No Bra. One actress was asked to squat and pee while smoking a peace pipe. Inaccuracies in costume demonstrated a lack of concern as to which tribe was being represented.
The Netflix-exclusive film, written by Adam Sandler and collaborator Tim Herlihy, is supposed to be a comedy spoof of The Magnificent Seven, a 60’s Western. The movie is supposed to host a formidable cast of stars including Taylor Lautner, Will Forte, Steve Buscemi, Terry Crews, David Spade, Dan Aykroyd, Rob Schneider, and Danny Trejo, among others.
Navajo actor Loren Anthony told ICTMN that he was convinced to give the film a chance only after he was assured that the film would not be racist.
“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,” Anthony said.
Instagram post via Loren Anthony 3 days before the walk-off.
How the actors’ decision will impact the film is not yet known. Neither Adam Sandler nor Happy Madison Productions has yet to respond to the event. Netflix, however, has come out with a response, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “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."
The Native actors’ departure can be justified, considering the jokes are made at the expense of a historically oppressed and marginalized group’s culture and dignity. Ridiculing a nation of people with racist names and making light of their way of life only seeks to perpetuate centuries of prejudice and damage, funny or not.
“I hope they will listen to us," Hill said. "We understand this is a comedy, we understand this is humor, but we won’t tolerate disrespect.”