New LONE RANGER Trailer Promises Big Time Spectacle, Moderate Racism

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
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New LONE RANGER Trailer Promises Big Time Spectacle, Moderate Racism
Oh, dear.

A second trailer for Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger has arrived and it's jam packed with the sort of massive big screen spectacle that fans were hoping for from the creative team behind Pirates Of The Caribbean. Also, it's got lots of Armie Hammer, who seems remarkably well suited for the title role and about to be launched into big time stardom. So, so far so good.

Unfortunately it also proves everyone right who ever suggested that sticking a bird on Johnny Depp's head and calling him Native American was a bad idea was pretty much bang on with every cautionary warning they ever threw out there. Caricature? I'm not sure Tonto even reaches that level here and what we see of him just calls back to the worst parts of actors playing roles in black face. Aren't we supposed to be past this sort of racial stereotyping and reductionism by now? Oh, dear.

From producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski, the filmmaking team behind the blockbuster "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, comes Disney/Jerry Bruckheimer Films' "The Lone Ranger," a thrilling adventure infused with action and humor, in which the famed masked hero is brought to life through new eyes. Native American spirit warrior Tonto (Johnny Depp) recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid (Armie Hammer), a man of the law, into a legend of justice--taking the audience on a runaway train of epic surprises and humorous friction as the two unlikely heroes must learn to work together and fight against greed and corruption.

Check the new trailer below.
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ParisDecember 11, 2012 11:00 AM

Well, it is well known that Johnny depp has Native American ancestry. And he already played a Native American in "The Brave", actually.

Todd BrownDecember 11, 2012 11:23 AM

What Depp has said is that his great grandmother was 'quite a bit' native. To my knowledge he's never specified what that meant. If she was half native, say, then that means that Depp is 1/16th native by genetics and there's no indication that he had any sort of native culture in his upbringing at all. If she was a quarter native, then Depp is 1/32nd. The guy is less native than I am German, or Jewish, by a very good margin and I am neither German nor Jewish. He's not native by any appreciable measure. And even if he were the characterization of Tonto in this would still be the worst sort of caricature.

heatbagDecember 11, 2012 11:39 AM

Perfect headline, Todd!

DanDecember 11, 2012 11:46 AM

johnny depp's method acting had him apparently studying to be a 65 year old japanese karate-teachin' handyman.

DallasDecember 11, 2012 1:17 PM

Actually it was his grandfather who was Cherokee, which makes him 1/4. Native American groups have embraced him in the role. The Comanches adopted him into their tribe while he was filming and the Navajos had him participate in a special gathering they were having. Depp made the remarks about a great grandmother (who was Cree) early in his career, back in the days (1980s) when being even part Native American was not too great of a thing to admit --- loads of prejudice. He was taunted as a child in Florida as a "dirty Indian".

Todd BrownDecember 11, 2012 1:47 PM

Hmm. Not sure how that didn't turn up when I was googling his background but you are correct. And a quarter is certainly a bigger percentage, but he's still less native than I am German or Jewish and I am neither. And the characterization of Tonto in this trailer is no less a gross stereotype of native culture pandering to pretty much all the worst impulses.

(For the record, I am half German and the Jewish blood is on that side as well. My family has issues with itself.)

Hiroaki JohnsonDecember 11, 2012 5:39 PM

It's a problematic display, I'd agree. But getting hung up on percents seems almost obtuse. If he were a quarter african-american growing up in the States it's quite likely they he'd be treated and identify as a black man.

Todd BrownDecember 11, 2012 6:11 PM

My initial point was that if people were considering Depp 'native' when he was only 1/16th native - which was my understanding at the time - then that's just silly. The grandfather certainly brings it closer to home but given that the man died when Depp was 7 I'd say that's not really a factor, either.

The argument on the pro side of the casting is that Depp somehow has some sort of inside knowledge of and respect for the culture because of his heritage. I completely rejected that notion when I thought the genetics were back only to his great-grandmother and I question the 'knowledge' factor very strongly with it being his long dead grandfather. As for respect ... well, I don't see ANY of that in this trailer.

As for your African-American comment I suppose that's possible but I'd expect it would have a great deal to do with skin tone and what part of the country they were in. But, culturally? No. There's just not enough exposure.

I'm half German, with STRONG family ties on my mother's side - her entire family emigrated after the war and lived within an hour of one another throughout my entire childhood. I spent every holiday and birthday surrounded by Germans and eating German food - but I'm culturally NOWHERE CLOSE to being a German. And Depp is even farther removed from his native blood than I am from my German blood, as is your hypothetical quarter black man.

NoahDecember 11, 2012 6:24 PM

This doesn't seem racist so much as... Brechtian. Johnny Depp's acting is so oddly stylized and unique that we're never fooled into thinking we're watching anybody other than Johnny Depp-- and yet this moves past merely 'bad acting' and enters the realm of the auteur. Every role he plays is a kind of strange postmodern commentary on itself.

momodotcomDecember 11, 2012 6:58 PM

This is no more racist than casting a Japanese or Chinese actor to play a Korean in a film or an Indian as a Middle Eastern...

Todd BrownDecember 11, 2012 7:05 PM

Only if they then have that character stretch his eyes back while jumping up and down shouting "I'm a ching-chong china man." If they did that it would be about the same.

Hiroaki JohnsonDecember 11, 2012 8:18 PM

I see where you're coming from now in respect to Depp.

As to this hypothetical individual I think the difference is that while you're not culturally German, you are (I'm assuming) white, so presumably you could walk around Berlin and as long as you didn't speak you could pass without incident. My point was that a lot of racial experience comes down to morphology more so than simple arithmetic of genetics.

Anyhow, my hope is that this is mostly shitty marketing, and the movie itself will have more of the "Big trouble in Little China" tone.

oreodogvomitDecember 12, 2012 12:17 AM

or a white guy in blackface?

jeffchow101December 12, 2012 1:23 AM

well unless a native american finds this racist it shouldnt be a issue with you
love it when when people who arent of the race always bring up racism like you honestly give a fuck they dont need you to speak for them

Todd BrownDecember 12, 2012 12:08 PM

I'm more than free to call people out when they act like assholes, thanks, regardless of what race they are.