It’s not bad enough that past generations herded all the Indians (feathers, not dots) onto the most inhospitable land imaginable. (No offense, Oklahoma, but the last time anyone said, “I wanna see Oklahoma,” they were talking about the musical, which means no one has said those words in twenty years.) Now Hollywood gives the only part for an Indian since Billy Jack to Johnny Depp.
In the 50′s no one batted an eyelash when the marauding scalper in their Spaghetti Western looked strikingly like the Italian waiter in the movie that followed. Hell, I thought the name Spaghetti Western came from the fact that all the Indians were really Italians. A vaguely foreign-ish looking actor might have been good enough for the early days of cinema, but aren’t we more sophisticated today? Back then every location that moviegoers saw, from Ancient Rome to 23rd century Mars, looked a lot like somewhere within 20 miles of Burbank. Today –through the miracle of airplanes and frequent flyer miles — many people have been out of their zip code, and film-makers have been forced to shoot on location all over the world. They can’t even pass off Budapest as Moscow any more. Yet, we still live in the age of the ambiguously ethnic actor / actress.
We live in the great melting pot, surely we can find an Indian to play Tanto or a Chinese person to play Mandarin. The latter case is particularly interesting because China is about eight months from buying Hollywood lock-stock- and-barrel. Perhaps we should break ourselves in by having a Chinese guy play a non-Kung fu master Chinese guy before we have to deal with the culture shock of watching Chen Dao Ming play George Washington –with English subtitles.
What is up with Tom Cruise having the starring role in a movie in which Ken Watanabe’s character is the title character? Why was Tom Cruise needed to tell the story of Saigo Takamori? If you said, “Because he’s such a better actor than Ken Watanabe,” then you will have been the first person ever in the world to utter words so ridiculously ridiculous. If you said, “Because Watanabe is difficult to understand because of his accent” to that I reply, have you heard Tom Cruise talk lately?
“All of psychiatry is bunk.”
“Oh, kattiee “
Yes it may be the Queen’s English, and I understand the words. Yet, I have no idea what that guy is talking about.