Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Angry Indians & Wise Medicine Men

One theme that I've noticed in the last couple movies we've watched is that they seem to have some similar characters and ideas. I have noticed that in Smoke Signals and Pow Wow Highway that there are angry Indians and wise, medicine men like characters. In Smoke Signals, we see Victor as the man on a journey, who sometimes loses his temper a little bit. We also see Thomas, who is very calm, cool and collected. He never gets worked up over anything, is always there for a bit of comic relief and he keeps Victor in line. We also see these types of characters in Pow Wow Highway. Here we see Buddy Red Bow as the angry Indian with the bad temper, and we see Philbert as the wise one of the two. He may seem like just the funny one, but he's actually very smart and wise.

I know we learned a bit about the "trickster" figure a while back in class, but I feel that this is a little different. I know we might be able to see Philbert maybe as the trickster figure, but I don't see that as his main role in the film. I see him more as the balance for the Buddy Red Bow and not a lot more.

I also believe that there may be a role for the trickster figure in some Native American Films, but not always. Especially seen here in these two films, there isn't a distinct figure, but more of the Hot and Cold characters that depend on each other for their survival. I find it an interesting commonality between films.

Powwow Highway

While Powwow Highway seemed to be a movie made for Native American viewing purposes, I actually enjoyed it a lot. Philbert was my favorite character. He acts a bit like a trickster character with his jokes and his “Pony” and everything. He was truly an entertaining character and I liked him a lot. In addition, he is the only one who comes up with a plan that is actually good enough to get Bonnie out of jail, so even if he plays dumb sometimes, it must be an act because he can get important thing accomplish if necessary. I also enjoyed how Philbert was trying to embrace the more traditional side of being a Native American; he was going on some kind of spiritual journey and I thought it was interesting to include that when it was supposed to be a more modern movie.
This movie definitely is trying to prove to white people that Native Americans can outsmart them any day. From the scene in the radio store to the jail break out, Philbert and Buddy and the rest of the Native American group are constantly sticking it to the white people. This is clearly a reason why the movie seems to be made for a Native American audience. I don’t think that most white people would really appreciate a movie that made them look so foolish in almost every aspect.


In Powwow Highway there is different ways of looking at different types of Indians.  Right as the film opens, we see Bonnie Red Bow getting arrested for having weed in her car.  This gives viewers right away the idea and stereotypes that Indians can be associated with drugs.  Along with showing this stereotype, we see Philbert Bono to be crazy, and dumb throughout the film.  While trying to find wisdom to become a warrior.  By trying to find this throughout the film it is portraying his to be crazy because of just the idea of finding this, and by the acts he does while doing so.  He also can be looked at as dumb because of the fact that he believes that he will find this wisdom and become a warrior.  While driving to New Mexico in his pony, Philbert goes completely off track to help with his search.  By doing this and going out the of way for what us viewers may think of is nothing, makes his look dumb for believing the stories he has heard and the extent he will go to find it.  There were not just negative stereotypes in the film; there was also the positive one of love for family.  Buddy Red Bow has not spoken to his sister in quite some time, but when he receives the phone call that she has ended up in jail, he is quick to go get her and her children that he was not aware about.  This shows that behind all of the negative things that we usually portray Indians as, there is the positive like the love and challenges he went through to get his sister.


Philbert embraces the Native American tradition in unexpected ways because he is in a way trying to do it old school. In Powwow Highway he is looking for signs, and tokens.  He believes if he gets a certain amount of tokens, that he can become a warrior and achieve a warrior name, for him that would be Whirlwind Dreamer.  He believes his car is his war pony that will help him achieve this quest of becoming a true Native American warrior.  He believes that his car/pony is amazing and will take him anywhere, even though everyone else sees it as a junk car.  Philbert believes that he got a sign and so that is why he bought his car/pony.  In the end, he rescues Bonnie from jail by pulling out the wall of the jail with his car.  They end up getting away and he saved the day. 

Who's the Superior Race?

Powwow Highway was a film that showed several common misconceptions and stereotypes associated with Native Americans.  The Indians are clearly in conflict with Whites throughout the entire film.  To be honest, I have yet to see a film with Native American’s that doesn’t entail some form of representation of the battle between the two races.  Buddy and his friend Hilbert, travel across the country to help Buddy’s sister get out of jail.  Throughout the whole trip, Buddy displayed many acts of aggression toward the White race.  He threw a fit in the radio store and broke the window and many products inside the store. He simply disregarded any acknowledgement of the wrongdoing he had done and felt it was almost fair as a form of payback.  I could see many people of the Indian culture finding this movie empowering because of the constant success of coming out ahead of the Whites.  They were able to get Buddy’s sister out of jail with no charges even though they had done many illegal things.  The film focuses completely on the lives of Native Americans and the struggle with superiority.  It’s not a secret that in all films and texts we have read over the course of the class have all been centered on that exact idea.  Now, in the movie Powwow Highway, the Indians were clearly the heroes for once and the Whites were the bad ones.  From the beginning of the film to the end, it is clear.

Powwow Highway vs. Smoke Signals

Powwow Highway for the most part contained the majority of Native American Indian themes that we have seen in previous films and novels. The film begins with a white man explaining to the tribe how land mining on their reservation would create jobs and ultimately help them live more comfortably. Youngblood, the land-mining promoter, explains his point of view and ends his presentation by stating something along the lines of “…for your people”. This stood out to me because it shows how much western society has exiled Native Indians from today’s modern culture. I believe this is the reason Red Bow interrupted and made the claim that the only reason Youngblood was promoting land-mining was to benefit him, which is valid when discussing western society’s ignorance towards the land.
                Red Bow and Philbert have personality traits that are extremely relatable to those of Thomas and Victor. Thomas did not want to let go of his native culture and found happiness by trying to find himself by storytelling and gathering information from those who are wiser. Philbert is an introspective and lovable person in a process of seeking identity through traditional and mystical means, similar to Thomas’s philosophy. Victor and Red Bow seems to have the idea that the world is against them and find power to be the most important personality trait in order to find their true self. I believe the film Powwow Highway was made for a Native American Indian audience. I feel there are three types of Native Indians that we have discussed, two of which make up the main characters in Powwow Highway. The first type is seen in Philbert’s character, being the one who still has a connection to their native heritage. The second type is seen in Red Bow’s character, being the one who has the “fight the system” kind of thinking and needs power over others to feel comfortable. 

Last Post

For my last paper I’m thinking about writing under the category of Storytelling. I am going to use Ceremony, The True Story of a Part Time Indian and Pocahontas. I’m going to write about how each of the main characters have a story and they each realize they have the power to change or edit the course of their stories to how they want it to be, whether good or bad. But ultimately that seems like the running theme throughout the semester through the books and movies that we looked at.
I feel like Native American writings, movies, songs whatever it is are telling stories of people who want to be heard by someone because they want an opportunity to change their world and maybe the world of others, whoever hears their story.
Yet, isn’t that what we all want? To be heard, for our stories and experiences to be heard so that generations to come don’t make the same mistakes, they learn of our victories, remember the pain, and respect each other?

Native American Audience

                Powwow Highway is movie based on the struggles between Native Americans.  This isn’t the first movie that explores this conflict between the two groups, but in this particular film, Native Americans finally win the battle, or so the film portrays it.  Most often in conflicts between Native Americans and whites, whites are almost always portrayed as superior and they are often shown as winning the fights with Indians.  Even in Powwow Highway, Buddy Red Bow was a warrior in many famous battles that occurred between the two groups.  These battles are all fights that the Native Americans not only lost the fight but also land and resources.

            The main focus of this film is to rescue Buddy’s sister from jail.  Throughout their journey, Buddy’s friend, Hilbert, acts as the stereotypical Indian.  He’s very spiritual and thinks that in order to get his Indian name, he must go on a spiritual journey.  Through a series of lucky coincidences, Buddy is finally able to rescue his sister and escape the persecution of the white people involved.  I think Native Americans would tend to like this movie because this movie is one of the few movies that actually portray Native Americans as superior and the victors of the situation.  At the end of the movie, Buddy and his friends seem to escape from jail and seem to get away with everything illegal they did to get his sister out of jail.  Also, the film portrays to a mainly Native American audience.  The two main characters are Native Americans and are portrayed as the heroes.  Not only that, but the white people are often seen as evil and corrupt, especially when they wrongly accused Buddy’s sister for having drugs and not listening to her explanations.

Native culture

The movie Powow Highway  showed contemporary native American culture in a negative light. The characters that are respected, like Buddy, are violent and do not represent the old way of life that they are clinging to.  Philbert is looked down upon because he is overweight, yet he strives to do things the 'old way.' I enjoyed the humor that was added into the plot through Buddy's conflict with the old way of life. He has been so hurt because of the discrimination he has faced that he seems to have pride in being an Indian, but not in practicing rituals or traditions. Philbert's respect for the old ways leads him down the right path, which makes it seem like despite all the problems he faced he still has a part of him that can get it right because he has been taught the old ways. instead of focusing on the problems with society today this movie focuses on the problem of Indians losing their heritage and going their own ways.  I think that this message made the movie popular because it celebrated being an Indian, and appreciated the heritage along with prompting Indians to become better and return to their roots.

Powwow Highway

In the movie Powwow Highway there were multipule stereotypes the were protrayed. Like that thought that Philbert was using the land to become a warrior and that he bought a really beat up car. Then there was Buddy who was like a savage and rebellious. There was a lot of yelling and and fighting. Then there was Bonnie who was caught with the drugs portraying that they are druggies. But even though there were stereotypes the characters tried to portray as not being Indian. But is is kind of hard with them going to the Powwow. One thing that i found amusing was that Buddy was Buddy Red Bow and that just gives him the Indian feel to his name. These are the steroetypes in the movie Powwow Highway.

Philbert's Pony

     Philbert plays the role of the trickster incredibly well in "Powwow Highway," so much so that there is no doubt of his role in the film as well as his role amongst the group he is traveling with. He constantly pushes Buddy to question convention and embrace the traditional ways, often telling him to relax and trust the spirits during their quest to free Bonnie. One of my favorite aspects of Philbert's character was his constant references to his car as his "pony" When he swerved the prevent Buddy from killing the spider in the glove box (because it may have been a spirit), he apologizes to Buddy, saying "Sorry that my pony threw ya." Again, at the end of the film when the car goes off the road and Philbert emerges from the wreckage, he says "My pony threw me. And now it's dead." Simply referring to his vehicle in such a way seems to be encouraging Buddy and any Native American's who remember their roots. Even though their pony is now a car, it still serves the same purpose to Philbert and he seems to have the same connection with it that he would with a real horse.
     When Philbert went to the junkyard ant told the attendant that he was there because he needed a pony (which he bought with a little cash and a bag of weed), it reminded me of Sherman Alexie's "A Drug Called Tradition." In Thomas' vision, he relates seeing Victor as a noble warrior making an attempt to steal a white man's horse. These two references to modern-day Native Americans needing to get themselves a pony illustrates the important connection that the pony played in their culture, and the void that seems to be left in their lives without such an important piece of tradition.

Powwow Highway

The movie Powwow Highway was an interesting perspective on Native American culture. For example, the movie presents itself to appeal mainly to a Natvie American audiences versus a white audience. Some evidence that supports this idea is the fact that the whole movie revolvs around two Native American men, Philbert and Buddy, who do not follow what society expects from them. Buddy is a rebellious, former soldier who seems angry at the world. Philbert is in search of his roots, trying desperately to become a "warrior" or a medicine man. This film overall, seems to "stick it to" the white man. One example of this is through Buddy's sister, Bonnie's, wrongful imprisonment. It made it seem as though she was set up by the white cops, who were rude to her and the people who tried to help her. It definately seems to demonize the white men, making them seem insentive and corrupt. Another way the movie portrats the Natives as the heroes and the white men as the antogaonists is by having Buddy and Philbert break Bonnie out of prison. Not only did they steal tons of money, break Bonnie out of jail, and outsmart the police, but they also got away with it, making them smooth, cool heroes.

Pow wow highway

  • This film is slightly different from the other films we previously watched in this class.  First of all, I don't think this movie was quite as "stereotypical" as the other examples we  have seen.  In that it didn't seem like the people in the film were aiming to portray themselves as Indians.  More or less it seemed as if though they portrayed themselves as just people, rather then following the stereotypes that people have given them.  Also, they really didn't show how white people acted towards native American's, not just overall but directly.  I think the reason native people generally tend to like this film more is because of the previously mentioned reasons.  
  • Powow Highway

    The movie "Powow Highway" was definitely intended for a Native audience to enjoy.  This movie was very empowering for any person, and the fact that the characters in it were Native makes it very inspiring for that audience.  At the beginning, drugs are found in Bonnie's vehicle.  This is another stereotype seen in Native films:  that all Native Americans do are drugs and that they are bad people.  However, after this event happens, Buddy and Philbert travel in Philbert's "pony" to try to bust Bonnie out of jail.  This makes everyone watching this feel good because it is pretty much understood that it wasn't Bonnie's drugs found in her vehicle.  Probably the most inspiring person in this movie was Philbert.  He was the typical spiritual one who was following the path of his ancestors in a 20th century world.  He thought before he spoke and told many stories, and of course dubbed his beaten-down vehicle "Pony."  He appears to be the "dumb" one of the two men.  Buddy seems to have to take control of situations, yet it is Philbert in the end who has the courageous plan that breaks Bonnie out of jail.  Attaching a rope to the bars on bonnie's cell and using his spiritual beliefs and trusty Pony, Philbert frees her.  At the end, it is believed that Philbert is dead, and everyone is extremely sad because he was truly the hero of the day.  However, when Philbert turns out to again escape fate and come out of the car fire alive, all is extremely upbeat and happy and this is truly the climactic point of the whole movie.  All of them escape the police and this is truly the happiest point in the movie for the characters in it as well as the audience as a whole.

    Friday, April 27, 2012

    Two Sides of Stereotypes

    Pocahontas displayed an immense amount of native Indian stereotypes. The film also accurately portrayed the European attitudes about native Indians. The governor as a main character represented the greed and bigotry that created a general belief within the crew exploring the new world. The governor’s power over the crew made it difficult for the rest of the crew to develop their own beliefs about what to do with the Indians. The crew refers to the native Indians as ‘savages’ without having any confrontation or idea of what they represent. The native Indians know their land and lives are in danger so they are always shown with bows and an arrow which is a common belief about what people think Indians represent in battle. Although the native Indian stereotypes are obvious in the film, so are the stereotypes of Brits. The first thing the governor does when the crew hits land is stick a British flag in the ground claiming the land as “theirs”. I believe this represents how important wealth is to the crew as well as their ignorance towards the native Indian culture. 


    Pocahontas, the Disney version, is a good example of culture clashing between reality and the fiction of the indigenous people. Pocahontas is portrayed as a beautiful young woman who sings to the trees  and nature and her best friend is a raccoon and a humming bird. Her lifestyle seems really great and is only made better when the handsome John Smith waltzes into her life. She is portrayed as a care-free girl who turns heroine when she protects Smith, her love, from being killed. However, we know this is a false representation of what her life was actually like, it greatly romanticizes her life and the other people of her tribe.
    However, I will have to say something that I actually applaud Disney for, they showed the animosity that the Europeans felt towards the Native Americans. They should they weren’t favored and that not everything was Thanksgiving like between them. They showed something real, maybe not in the best way, but they attempted to especially during the song ‘Savages’.  
    I’d like to add one more point children do look up and see Pocahontas and her tribe as the stereotypical Native Americans and maybe this is their first impression of them. However, I think that’s a little bit farfetched, to blame Disney for a child’s first impression of a culture, especially when it’s in cartoon form. Most children know that cartoons aren’t real and sure children pretend to act like what they see, but they know it’s pretend…that’s why it’s called make believe.  I highly doubt that children run around believing Sebastian, from The Little Mermaid, is an actual representation of a crab. I don’t think they will believe that a real crab has a Jamaican accent, leads a choir essentially, sings great and talks…it just doesn’t seem likely to me. 

    Thursday, April 26, 2012


    Many young children grow up watching Disney movies, and the Indian cultures in their films do not portray a positive message.  While watching either Peter Pan or Pocahontas children will receive a negative portrayal of the Indian’s.   Many times in films Indians are looked at as the savages.  A majority of the time they are shown around fires, chanting, banging drums, and even smoking.  In Peter Pan, a story about never growing up, the song “What Makes a Red Man Red?” shows these things.  The children in the film are learning from the Indian’s themselves the answer to the question, the Indians are once again seen in the beginning smoking, banging on drums, and even are chanting and dancing throughout the entire song.  Even though Pocahontas was one the first Disney movies to have Indians as the main characters, and even a Disney Princess an Indian, they were not seen in a positive light.  They were still shown as savages by the whites in the film, which then can lead the views to still hold the same idea.
    Not only are children viewing Native Americans in a negative way, but there are many music videos that adults and young adults are viewing too.  In many of the videos like; Cher "Half-Breed", SugarHill Gang "Apache", Tommy Seebach "Apache", and Tim McGraw "Indian Outlaw".  All of these singers and groups, excluding Cher, are not even from a Native American background but are representing the culture.  They are all singing about Indians, and many of the views they are shown dressed up in feathers, with tee pees, and many other things commonly thought to associated with Native Americans.  All of these things are not truly what the culture has to show, but is what we are all used to seeing.  The wrong message through music and music videos has even come up in the new dancing game Just Dance.  The SugarHill Gang’s song “Apache” is featured in the game and while playing it users get to see a person dressed in full Indian “gear”, even a full feather headdress.  The way Indian culture is displayed in the game shows that still today it is simply thought of as headdresses, feathers, and the way we have seen them dance in movies.


    When we were younger, we never causght the full meaning that disney movies actually portray.  The meaning behind the movie Pocahontas goes much farther than the love story of John Smith and Pocahontas.  The songs, scenes, and Images of the characters help create an image of their role in history.  Throughout the movie, it was clear the colonists were the real savages.  The song "savages" was sung to show how each culture viewed each other.  Through the many other aspects of the film, it became clear that the filmmakers really wanted to show the colonists and the real savages. They were purposefully ugly and fat to make the audience recognize them as the bad guys.  The scene where the dog is in a bubbly bath with a jar full of cherries is a way to show how they are power hungry concieted people. On the contrast, the Indians were buff and attractive to clearly make them known as the good guys.  They were shown to work hard for all they have and they never lost there temper.  Pocahontas's father showed sympathy and was able to put trust in John Smith.  In addition to images the movie presents, there are many stereotypes shown relating to Indians.  The idea that they believe so heavily on spirits is expressed through many scenes in the movie.  There is the grandmother willow tree who always has the answer.  The Indians are thought to always be in conjuction with nature.  The raccoon Meeko, and Flit the hummingbird, are always following around Pocahontas.  She talked to them and seen them just as if they were human.  It's clearly meant to be a children's movie.  Even though there are important things in the movie and real history involved with it, it can't be taken as a true representation of what that moment in history was like

    Native American Stereotypes in Film & Culture

    I believe that in the Disney movie, Pocahontas, we can point out numerous stereotypes of Native American Indians. The first being how Pocahontas herself is dressed. Pocahontas wears a signature necklace, that looks like an arrowhead. Also, she is dressed in fringed leather clothing and is running around barefoot. Also, the wardrobe of her tribe is also a giant stereotype with all the headdresses, war paint, spears, bows and arrows, long-flowing black hair and feathers everywhere you look. With all the musical numbers about "being one with nature" it's clear Disney is trying to convey that Indians treasure their land, which may be true. But when everyone is talking to animals and trees it almost seems a bit over the top and hard to believe that is what Native Americans are actually doing. 

    However, I am having a bit of trouble arguing that Native Americans are the only ones being offended here. The "milky skinned" white man is only concerned about greed and killing off anyone that has a different mindset than him. I also noticed that all the Indians are very, um.....ripped. Whereas all the white men are dirty and overweight. It's kind of offending to know that is how "we" are being portrayed (even if it's true after all). That's probably why I didn't find the song, "Savages" to be as offending to Native Americans as everyone else did. Sure, the explorers were calling the Indians "evil" and what not, but during the song the Indians also had their share of digs towards the explorers calling them "demons". 

    Nonetheless, I believe that the movie Pocahontas is still a bit offending to Native Americans. Especially because the only reason Disney made a movie about Pocahontas is because she is a free-spirit and isn't a  postcard member of the tribe. It might have been a boring movie if we followed the life of her friend who might represent the actual life of a Native American Indian a bit better. 

    Indian outlaw

    Indian Outlaw is a song about how the main singer is a mixture of two different types of Native Americans.  While he doesn’t look anything like a Native American (the video isn’t the best quality), and it’s also really convenient that everything rhymes.

     First it’s really wrong for him to lie about not being Native American and then he connects the idea of being Indian to being an outlaw.  He doesn’t once say why he’s an “Indian Outlaw” he just talks about some stereotypical things that Indians might do.

    The things he says could really make Native Americans angry because it gives people the idea that all native people are outlaws just because of their race, even though they most likely are law abiding citizens.  

    Red man Red

    Personally, I love the movie Peter Pan, and I used to watch the movie with my little brother all the time.  The one scene that never made a lot of sense to me was the Indian scene.  Tiger Lilly was the stereotypical Indian princess.  She is beautiful, and inviting of outsiders.  Most Indians of the time were not very happy when an outsider came in, and they wouldn’t offer a pipe to share around the campfire.  The whole Indian tribe was very stereotypical.  The chief had a big headdress with feathers; he was the biggest Indian and was very ugly.  The other Indians were just shadows and headdresses. 
    All the Indians were helping Peter Pan and his clan, answer some simple questions.  What makes a red man red, and when did they first say ugh.  Since Indian girls are pretty it only makes sense for, “ugh” to come from an ugly mother-in-law.  This goes along with Pocahontas, because she was a beautiful Indian princess who was very accepting.  Disney movies don’t show how Indians really live, they don’t show what the white man did to the tribes, and they don’t show Indians giving tobacco to the English.  I don’t think the Disney movies give Indians justice because they were not all nice and kind and the English were not willing to learn from them.  Peter Pan and Pocahontas make Indians look stereotypical, and it is part of the reason to blame for children thinking that’s really what an Indian is. 


         Through many  films, video, and other media racial stereotypes have been established in younger generations. children movies such as Peter Pan and Pocahontas show Indians completely different from what they are actually like. every Indian is a red man with a big nose who has violent tenancies. the idea of an Indian princess is shown in both with tiger Lilly and Pocahontas illustrating them. they are beautiful and primitive yet the Indian me are simply savage. theses stereotypes are also shown in music videos such as half breed and in the dance video games that are played by children all over the world.
         the negative connotations that are being shown to children and society help form the conception that we have of Indians today and will have of them in the future. changes need to be made so that  we do not continue making these assumptions in the future.

    Steryotypes in Pocahontas

    Pocahontas the movie has many sterotypes. Including that the Indians are the savages. When John Smith first meets Pocahontas he calls her people savages. There is the thought of the Indians being able to talk with the animals and the tree. Then she starts to sing the colors of the wind. There is the thought that the whites are all rich and have all the power. The other thing is all the Indians have the feather and they are red skinned and they all live off the land. Another thing is that Pocahontas was the Indian princess and that she was the cheifs daughter.All the steorotypes are the same about Indians. They show the audience iof kids will all know that the indians are they are savages and that they are red skinned.

    Native Americans in Our Culture

    In many films or television shows for young children the idea of the “Indian” is presented.  They are all very stereotypical. For example, in Disney’s Pocahontas, the Native Americans, or Indians, are seen as warriors and savages throughout many battle scenes of the movie. There is also the song “Savages” that definitely shows the idea that Native Americans are evil, vicious and out to kill. Other stereotypes of Native Americans that are portrayed in Pocahontas are that Native Americans are very spiritual. Pocahontas talks to animals and trees, her grandmother is a tree. I believe that these ideas show that we are ignorant and stubborn when it comes to understanding other cultures/ethnicities so we just repeat the same ideas over and over again, instead of trying to understand and change the way we view other ethnicities in general.

    Shame on Disney...

        After having watched the few clips of Pocahontas in class, it's pretty obvious that Disney was presenting a less than savory view of Native Americans in the movie. Pocahontas is the obvious exception, but it almost seems as if Disney is suggesting that Pocahontas is a beautiful, intelligent, desirable woman in spite of being a Native American, not because of it. While Pocahontas is held in the highest regard as the heroine of the movie, the same respect is not given to her tribe mates.  Pocahontas is the object of John Smith's desire (as well she should be given the way she is represented,) but the rest of the Native Americans in the film are referred to as "savages" and are all portrayed essentially the same way. 
        Some people have suggested that this is Disney's subtle way of calling attention to the foolishness of the stereotypes of Indians. Not only do I disagree with that assessment, but it seems to me that this movie has done more the perpetuate those stereotypes in the minds of children who see it than perhaps any other children's movie in recent history. While it is easy for an adult to watch this movie and snicker at some of the tongue-in-cheek references that are made, no one could expect a child to even be aware of what satire is, let alone recognize it when they see it. This movie was likely the first exposure to Native American culture for thousands and thousands of children who saw it. There is no way that these children would be aware of the differences in culture at all, and certainly no way that they would be aware that Disney was making a social commentary on the perceptions of Native Americans. 
         I think that Disney just rested on their laurels and relied upon tired old notions of Indian stereotypes to drive the plot of this movie. Even if the intent was to highlight the fact that Pocahontas is just like us, and that love is blind, then why wasn't the same treatment given to any other Indians? They are all portrayed as drum-beating savage cavemen, just as they had been in nearly every big Hollywood movie ever to feature them. Is this going to open a young child's eyes and make them say to themselves "Gee, that stereotypical depiction of Native Americans in Pocahontas really opened my eyes to the mistaken perceptions of their culture?" Doubtful. Any time a child goes on to watch another film or read a book that perpetuates these stereotypes, they will seem more believable and palatable because "Pocahontas" has laid a foundation, whether they know it or not, for casting Indians in this light. 
           There were, of course, many stereotypes in the Disney movie, Pocahontas.  One large one was the song “Savages” where both groups, the Native Americans and the English, were calling each other savages for their horrible ways of treating one another.  Another stereotype was the type of outfits the Natives wore.  The typical outfit was war paint and headdresses.  This was also seen in another Disney classic, Peter Pan.  Peter Pan probably had an even worse stereotype what with their song “What Makes the Red Man Red” and having the chiefs face cherry red and everyone dancing around a fire.  Another kind of stereotype that always kind of amused me was out in-tune with nature Pocahontas was.  She could just talk to trees and jump from the highest cliff out there and land gracefully in the water.  This is a more extreme version of how the Native Americans loved and grew with nature, and by exaggerating it in the film it kind of made some of it look a little ridiculous.  I think Disney is one of the biggest culprits of stereotypical behavior and that is not anything a child should be taught.  Yes, they are probably too young to fully understand what it means but that’s one reason why they wouldn’t think it was a big deal to paint all over themselves and have a fake powwow in their living room.

    Stereotypes in Pocahontas

    There are many stereotypes present in this movie.  The biggest probably being when the when men in the film sang the song savages when about to attack the Indians.  Looking at how this is aimed towards children as a kids film, I don't think parents want their kids growing up to think Indians are savages.  Another part that was stereotypical was how the she was always talking to plants, showing that Indians are very in tune with nature, which isn't always the case.

    Stereotypes in film

    In Disney’s Pocahontas, there are many different stereotypes. First of all Pocahontas only really has one good friend in the movie. Shes the only one you ever see her talking to. Every other time she is talking to Grandmother Willow or her animal friends. They seem to be the only ones that can understand and relate to what she is talking about. This stereotype is something that everyone thinks Native Americans do. That they all relate to nature and are at peace with it. These scenes in Pocahontas connect with the Familly Guy film when the Indians make the dad and son have to go out into the woods and become one with nature to get their car back.
    Another stereotype in the movie is when the Native Americans are sitting around the campfire and they start to sing the song What Makes the Red Man Red. All of the Indians look the same. They all have big noses and red bodies with moccasins and some type of robe on. They are playing on the stereotype that all Indians look alike with their big noses and red faces. However they also do show the stereotype of the female Indian being almost like a princess in the film. Both of these showing that America has its idea of how people should look in their minds when in reality they are so different from what we think.

    Stereotypes in Pocahontas

    In the movie Pocahontas, Disney uses many stereotypes of Native Americans so that it can produce an entertaining film for children. The Native Americans talk to plants and animals, which we know cannot happen in real life, and is supposed to show how Native Americans are connected to nature. Another example of stereotyping in Pocahontas is how the white men sang the song “Savages” while preparing to fight the Native Americans. This shows the young children who watch the movie that all white people that think Natives Americans are savage and not like us, which is untrue. In addition, since Pocahontas is the daughter of the Chief, she is an Indian Princess. This in itself is a stereotype because many movies portray pretty young Native American women as princesses, when in reality, not very many are actually princesses. Pocahontas is a good children’s movie and as far as entertainment value goes, it is pretty good. If you take actual facts about real Native American life however, it is not a movie that should be taken too literally.

    Cultural Stereotypes

    There are many different stereotypes portrayed in the media these days. For starters, children's movies such as Pocahontas show the stereotype of the Native American culture such as showing typical costumes and rituals. Since children are being raised watching movies like these, they are being raised to have stereotypes for Native Americans. The stereotype is also demonstrated in the clip we watched from Just Dance 3. The typical costume with headdress and feathers is one thing, but listening to the lyrics is another. I didn't even realize how stereotypical the lyrics were until we saw them all written out in class. Therefore, there are some stereotypes that we don't even realize are being portrayed that we are subconsiously learning about. This all reminds me of the cartoon shown in class about the boy and girl where the boy doesn't realize the girl is even a Native American because he had all these previous stereotypes built up in his mind from movies and T.V. shows.

    Native American Stereotypes portrayed by Disney

    In Disney's movie Pocahontas, Natives are very often portrayed in stereotypical ways. For example, Pocahontas falls into the stereotypical "Indian Princess" role, where she falls in love with sonmeone her father doesn't appreove of and she has to find a way to overcome her obstacles. Another example is represented in the song "Savages" sung by both the Native Americans and the whites. The title of the song is enough in itself to raise question, but when looking closer at the lyrics there are parts where they say "they're not like you and me, which means they must be evil" and "they're only good when dead." If you look at the song closer, you could argue that is it Disney trying to emphasize how ignorant these views are and show how ridicoulous these stereotypes can be, but at the same time if you are just watching this from the perspective of a child these people come off as scary and mean. The interesting thing about this movie, however, is that it is clear that the main "villain" of the story is actaully the white captain, Ratcliff, not any of the Native Americans.

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Stereotypes in Pocahontas

    An example of a stereotype that was portrayed in Pocahontas was when they were singing the song Savages.  First of all, when the white men were singing "Savages...." they were referring to the Native Americans.  The white men think that all the Native American's are savages and live in the woods.  But, the Native Americans were also singing that same song because they thought that the white men were savages because they just wanted to kill and didn't respect nature like Natives do.  

    Another stereotype in Pocahontas was when she was dancing around and talking to the animals.  She talked to them like they were her friends or even family.  She told them about her life and her problems, like they could understand her.  Also, she was talking to the trees.  She got advice from Grandmother Willow about what she should do about her life and what not.  These are all different types of stereotypes of Native Americans.  That Natives can communicate with the Earth and the animals. 

    Dominant Culture

                Movies like Peter Pan and Pocahontas represent many of the stereotypical views of Native Americans.  Showing children these images engrain certain views of Native Americans in their minds.  In both of these movies, Indians are often shown dancing around a fire, chanting, or talking to nature.  Native Americans are almost never portrayed as “normal”, and they are always shown as different from the dominant society, the whites.  Often Indians are portrayed as inferiors to the whites who are most often the main characters.  One exception to this trend would be Pocahontas.  She is the main character who is also a Native American, something Disney has never done before.  Unfortunately, being the main character doesn’t completely eliminate stereotypes and she encompasses many of them in the movie, such as talking to animals and nature, and being very spiritual.  These stereotypes are extra powerful especially when children learn a lot about other cultures through the media, especially movies.

                The dance in Just Dance 3 also reinforces many stereotypes of Native Americans.  Just Dance 3 is a game that is popular among all ages, but especially younger children.  This dance not only shows an Indian in the traditional clothes, headdress, and feathers, but the music and the dance are also very stereotypical.  Many of the lyrics in the song also connect to stereotypes associated with Native Americans.  These images from movies and the dance create a picture of the typical Native American and they come to expect that from all Native Americans.  For example, that cartoon in class where the boy was saying the girl didn’t look like an Indian is just one example of these stereotypes clouding the minds of children and reinforcing the stereotypes.  This shows that the people dominating the media are mostly whites and they have the most control over what is shown in the movies and how Indians are perceived.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    _Powwow Highway_: Questions for Thought & Discussion

    As you watch Pow Wow Highway, consider the following questions:

    1. What are the generic conventions of Pow Wow Highway--what "kind" of film is it? From whose point of view do we experience the story?
    2. How are Indians represented in the film? What "types" of Indians does the film present? 
    3. What is significant about the representation of Native people and Native life in the film, especially in the historical context of representations of Indians in film, and from an indigenous rather than dominant culture or mainstream perspective?
    4. What are some of the conflicts in the film, and how do they reflect Indian historical reality, but on the reservation and at Pine Ridge?
    5. What scenes might be trying to convey a traditionally Native way of seeing the world, of reality, of combining the every day with the mythic?
    6. Buddy is a political activist with little use for Cheyenne tradition. Does Buddy "enlarge" his identity as a Cheyenne over the course of the film? Consider the scene when Buddy Red Bow uses the car window as a war shield.
    7. How does Philbert embrace tradition in unexpected ways? Consider Philbert's connection to his car/pony. In what ways does Philbert function as a traditional trickster figure? 
    8. Native people generally tend to like this movie.  Why might that be true?  
    9. Do you think this movie is anti-colonial?  In what way?
    10. How does this movie relate to the other movies we have watched in this course?

    For Blog Post 4... Music Videos and More

    If you aren't inspired to write about Pocahontas or the other short clips we watched in class, I thought you might like to watch these music videos and think about the role of culture and stereotypes in each: How do they relate to the films we have seen?  What do they say about the dominant culture?  Or, find your own example--video, cartoon, commerical, etc., and write about it.

    Just Dance 3:

    Original Tommy Seebach "Apache":

    SugarHill Gang "Apache"

    Peter Pan - "What Makes the Red Man Red?":

    Cher "Half-Breed" (she actually is part Cherokee):

    Tim McGraw "Indian Outlaw":

    Think about how these videos compare to a perhaps more "authentic" one:
    Tony Scott "The Chief"

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Regression vs. Liberation

                    Medicine River displayed a different prospective on the modern Native American lifestyle compared to what we have studied in class. After reading some of Sherman Alexie’s work, Thomas King’s approach concerning Native American independence seemed to originate from the opposite side of the spectrum. Alexie always advocated release from tradition in order to become successful in modern Western society. In Medicine River, Will had already abandoned his tribe and family to become a successful photographer in Canada. Contrary to Alexie’s work, the transformation into the Western lifestyle already occurred. Medicine River focuses on the relapse back into the Native life rather than liberation from it. Aside from the questionable acting and dry humor, a self-sufficient Native American living comfortably outside of his tribe and later returning to his people is an interesting take on the relationship between Natives and Western society.  
                    Thomas King’s unique portrayal of Native American independence in Medicine River leads me to believe the film was developed for the general audience. It seems like more Native Americans are in the position to relate with characters like Junior from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian more than a character like Will. One difference in Thomas King’s film and novel, Green Grass, Running Water, compared to other authors such as Alexie, is the significant role of Native women. In Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water, the Native women seem to have an issue with commitment. Alberta Frank in the novel is Lionel’s lover but doesn’t support marriage and wants to raise a child independently. The same exact situation occurs with Louise in Medicine River. This depiction of Native women is completely adverse of Western ethic. However, this belief seems desirable to Native men as seen in Will in the film and in Lionel and Charlie in the novel as if they find self-reliance in Native women attractive. 

    Discussion of Medicine River

    I believe that the film Medicine River was made generally for a Native audience because it has a lot of Native undertones. I was reminded of our discussions about Sherman Alexie where Native Americans find their humor in exposing very personal situations. Harlen seems to be the best example of this, telling everyone that Louise is pregnant; making Will play basketball even though he’s older and out of shape; etc. However, the movie made it easy for a foreign culture (not Native American) to associate with the problems that Will faces; missing his mother’s funeral, torn between two women, and whether to choose his family or his dream job.

    There was definitely a tuned down presence of Native American stereotypes compared to
    Harold of Orange, in that the movie didn’t poke fun at them in an ironic sense. Although there were a few examples of this; when Harlen first tells Will about the calendar they were discussing
    what pictures they were going to take. Harlen said it was going to be of moose and elk because that’s what people expect from a Native American calendar. As we know, Harold of Orange took almost every stereotype that there was about Native Americans and beat it to death with the “humor stick”. Overall, I think there was a very big difference in the general feel of the stories, while Harold of Orange was made as a comedy for Natives Medicine River was more a story about a lost man finding his way back home.
    Terrence Straight