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

Harold of Orange and Medice River

In the Movie Harold of Orange, the audience is mostly Native American based, as well as in the movie Medicine River. In both movies they have a man who is the persuader of the reservation. The main character in the movie Harold of Orange he tries to persuade the group of people to loan them money to the reservation. In the movie Medicine River the brother's friend, tries to persuade the brother to stay at the reservation and take pictures to create a picture slash book for the reservation. In both movies they are successful in persuading there peers.

Another thing that  both movies share are that they both take place on a reservation and they are trying to save the reservation. They both have some sport event that is going on. In Harold of orange there is the softball game, where the Inidans are the whites and the Whites were the Indians. They fixed it were the White team won, so they feel special and that they won to help there cause, but it was like the Indians won because they were where the Indian shirts.

In both the movies the indian man fell in love or liked the one in charge of the money. in Harold of Orange the woman that the man likes is in charge of giving them a certain amount of money. In Medicine river the woman that the man falls in love with is the one who gave him the money to get morefilm.

In both movies they use "stories" toexplain what goes on on the res. In Harold of Orange the Indians give all the Whites "Indian Names" which are monopoly cards. Then in the movie Medicine River is that every time he askes where his brother is, his friends has a different place everytime and he says he knows because he gets post cards but he really doesn't know where he is.

These are the similarities between the two movies.

Medicine River

I have three minor things I picked out of the movie in general:

The movie Medicine River seems to be for Native Americans in some of the aspects, but it can be easily for the general audience as well. The theme of ‘returning home’ seems to be played out as the strongest and most obvious theme. As I was watching I got the feeling of it being Prodigal son-ish in nature as the film went on. As he’s returning back to his native land and is basically welcomed back with open arms, he has traveled and seen the world and as he comes back he realizes that this truly is his home.

The camera acted as something of large symbolic worth as seeing the world through someone else’s eye and in this case seeing the reservation and the people who live on it as something beautiful instead of what may be seen on as something terrible upon first impressions.

I found it slightly amusing that the film incorporated a “Stoic Indian “ in the elderly woman in the valley, but what I like is that they gave her a personality and sense of humor, they didn’t just group her into the category as wise old Indian, they created a person with a history. 

Medicine River

The film Medicine River was in many ways directed towards both the Native American audience as well as the general audience.  Any audience could find scenarios in the movie to relate too.  I’ll admit that it wasn’t the most exciting movie, but I could find a couple scenes to connect with.  I believe a general audience would be able to understand it since it was very well laid out and it centered Will, the main character, submerged in the city. But on the other hand, the storyline contained a lot of struggles regarding his Native American culture which I can’t see holding much interest to the general audience.  He often reflects back on times on the reservation with his mother.  It built onto the idea that to him, his culture meant a lot to him that he never wanted to let go.  Because Native American traditions have faded over time, I feel as if they try to keep within the race.  His feelings seemed to be divided between the white girl and the Indian but you could tell he sided more with the one of his ethnicity.  She would constantly tell him she doesn’t want him, but that didn’t stop him from coming to see her when she had her baby or helping her out in other ways.  Over all, when you dig deeper into the movie, you can really see the truth behind what’s being shown.

Medicine River

In many Native American stories, novels, etc. there is some sort of trickster figure. A trickster can be sly and humorous, but is trying to prove a point or show a moral to a story. In the movie Medicine River, the apparent trickster is Harlen.
 Harlen is a humorous character who likes to fool around, almost like a sort of hero to the community. Harlen always appears randomly throughout the movie and takes on a lot of roles. He cons Will into many different activities, making the calendar, playing basketball and eventually possibly staying in Medicine River, along with the help of Louise. I think Harlen is trying to show Will that Medicine River may be the right choice for him to stay and that he belongs with his roots.  Harlen, as the trickster, is trying to prove to Will this point.

Medicine River

            After watching the film Medicine River, it became clear to me that the movie was mostly focused on being for the Native American audience. However, I do think that it could have also been for the general audience. In the beginning of the movie it starts out in the city, which draws in the audience, with Will and his female coworker which makes you think that it is going to be based in the city with Will being the only Native American character. As the film goes on we find out that the entire movie is based on Native American land.
            Throughout the film, Will begins to take back a huge role in his old life in Medicine River.  He is asked to play basketball for the local tribe team and to take pictures for a local calendar to raise money for the town.  The general audience is seeing this as a normal city guy helping out the town that he came from. The audience is forced to learn about the Native American background and its values and traditions. By having Will do all of these things, it helps us to better understand them because he is originally from there but has since long forgotten his family traditions that he grew up with.

Medicine River

I believe that this film was in fact made for more of a Native American audience.  There are many references that I did not understand instantly while watching the film.  But a Native American might get at the moment.  To get the full effect I feel you have to understand the jokes and references immediately to truly get the movie.  Showing the Natives in their everyday lives is more relatable to a Native American audience, but the general audience is able to understand it as well.  Therefore, I think it is made for all but the Native American audience would enjoy it a little more.
                Another part of this film that stood out to me was its portrayal of Native American women, especially Louise.  She is used to represent other women of this decent.  I perceived her as being a very independent woman, especially with her pregnancy, and wanting to raise her daughter fully on her own.  It is true she definitely had feelings for Will, but in the end she firmly stands by her original wish to be a single mother.  She does not need a man to help her take of her child, especially the one who got her pregnant. She takes a stand and does what she wants.

Medicine River

Medicine River deals with the theme of leaving the reservation to better yourself in a career that would not be the same on the reservation, but then returning back home to realizing what you have left behind.  Will has left the reservation long ago to pursue a career in photography by moving to Canada.  He later has to return home because of a death in his family and winds up getting involved in a calendar/book project, and even finds romance with Louise.  After all the things Will gets involved in, he realizes that maybe staying on the reservation is really what he wants to do now.  This concept on leaving the reservation and returning home is the opposite of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian.  In the book, Junior decides he wants to leave the reservation to better his education, and his life.  Unlike Will, he does not decide that leaving was not really what he wants to do anymore.
                In this film, the Native American women could be looked at as a strong independent woman through the character Louise.  Although she becomes romantic with Will throughout the movie, it is not revealed that she is a couple months pregnant until almost the end of the movie.  She then goes on to tell Will that she does not want to ever get married, enjoys living on her own, and plans to raise her child on her own.  All of the decisions that Louise makes shows that she plans to be independent, and wants to be able to say she did things on her own.  Louise shows Native American women, and even all women, can do what they want, work, be independent, and do not need the help of a man to do everything in life. 

Similarities between the movie and the book

                Medicine River and Green Grass Running Grass by Thomas King share many similarities.  One of the biggest similarities I noticed in both the movie and the book is the presence of tricksters.  In Medicine River, Harlen in the main trickster figure and plays a huge role in how the movie plays out.  Harlen is responsible for Will figuring out what he wants in life and whether he should stay on the reservation or leave again.  Will is able to figure out what he wants in life with Harlen as his informal "guide."  Unlike in Medicine River, Coyote, the trickster in Green Grass, Running Water, doesn’t play as big a role in the plot.  It seems his presence is to add humor and some confusion to the story, rather than helping the characters fulfill what they want in life.
                Another similarity between the movie and the book is the idea of both Alberta and Louise wanting to be single parents.  They just want a child, not a man to be tied to.  This seems likes a progressive idea because in the past, Native American women had a man and then children.  This way of life seems to be changing in both the movie and the book.  They are also starting to become closer to equals with men and are given some rights that they didn’t have before.  Louise later realizes she might actually want to be with Will and changes her beliefs that she doesn’t really need a man in her life.  Alberta never really seems like she wants to be with Lionel or Charlie, and she seems content on raising her child on her own.
                Finally, a third similarity between Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water, is the idea of staying on the reservation or leaving.  Many of the types of literature we have looked at have examined this idea and decisions on it have been split.  In the book, Charlie and Eli left the reservation and only Eli decided to return, whereas, in the movie, Will is the only one who left.  It seems that this decision to stay or go is more so on a personal level rather than a cultural level.  Native Americans have stayed secluded from the rest of society for many centuries, and they have just stared to integrate with the rest of the society.  For some, leaving is still not accepted and is often looked down upon. 

Medicine River

    The quote " The truth about stories is, that's all we are." by Thomas King is true.  When time has passed, and we have long been forgotten, the only things that people will remember are the stories that we have left behind.  From our history books to our fantasy works, these are the things that people will remember us for.  Granted we probably have a better life when we die, but we still want to make an impact here on earth.  You can see this especially with native American writings because that's what their culture has turned into.  Their are some Native Americans that still live the old way, but many have assimilated and have been living the western way of life.  Due to this assimilation many Native Americans don't even know much about how they are suppose to act as a true Indians.  As well, this has caused a great loss of Native American culture, were the only thing truly left is their story telling.  

   I thought everyone but Will, really were telling stories.  The main character that really told stories was Harlen. I think Will was being taught how to be an Indian again, and that he shouldn't be ashamed of it.  because of Harlen's ability to story tell, Will was able to become a new man, one that is appreciative of his 

Harold of Orange

     While it seems to be clear the Harold of Orange was intended for a Native American audience,  what is less obvious is the message that the writer and director intended to convey to Native American viewers.
    The overall point of the movie seemed to be to shine a spotlight on this unusual financial relationship between Harold's tribe and white donors, seemingly a metaphor for all Natives and the white people that they are sometimes forced to pander to in order to make a living. Initially, it seemed as if the filmmakers intention was to expose the fact that whites only contribute money and/or concern for Native Americans because of what is commonly referred to as "white guilt." I got the impression that the filmmakers were trying to condone the trickery that it took to illicit donations from the white donors. In fact, it seemed to me as if the intent was almost to encourage any Native American viewers to pursue the same course of action and cash in on the guilt that white people typically feel for the treatment of Indians.
     Upon second thought, I really feel as if the point of this movie was to cast Harold and his fellow tricksters in a bad light and to mock the lengths that they go to while courting the white donors. Although they are quite funny and very clever, they are nothing more that an handful of scam artists who seem more credible because of their Native American background. I think that the makers of this movie were trying to focus the attention of their Native American viewers not on whites and why they feel obligated to donate money, but rather on the Indians who are willing to whore themselves out for that money. While Harold and his clan are likable and funny, I think the film's intent was to make Native American viewers realize that their pride and tradition are far more valuable than any amount of money that they would have to indulge white people to get. Traditions such as the naming ceremony are (were) sacred to Native Americans, and scenes like the one in which names are drawn from a hat at a fry bread stand show how easily money can buy out tradition. The film's purpose seems to be to stop this exchange of ancient tradition for guilt-ridden money.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Medicine River Analysis

The Film Medicine River seems to have been made for mostly a Native American audience; many of the jokes and references were not familiar to me so that by the time I figured out what they meant, they had lost their humor or the movie had moved on to another scene and I was left behind. I suppose I could see how general audiences would also be able to enjoy the movie, although I feel like they would need to be well versed in Native American culture or would have to look past the nonsense that they did not understand.  So in a way, even though the film is geared towards the Native American viewer, people who are not Native Americans would be able to enjoy this film as well.

One connection I made between Medicine River and Green Grass, Running Water is the fact that the women are independent. Louise gets pregnant and does not want the father to be her husband; she is determined to take care of her child without a man. Alberta in Green Grass, Running Water wants to get pregnant but does not want a husband either. This demonstrates that women do not want to deal with the problems that accompany men, and are able to survive without the aid of a man. Another connection was the idea of the trickster characters. Tricksters such as the Coyote in the novel and Harlen in the movie prove that trickster figures are prevalent and important to Native American culture and history.