Native Americans quit Adam Sandler movie set

The movie, developed by the Jewish comedian for Netflix was deemed offensive to women and elders for its depiction of the Apache culture.

April 24, 2015 12:28
2 minute read.

Actor Adam Sandler. (photo credit: REUTERS)

"Cowboys and Indians" are still duking it out in the Wild Western United States!

A group of Native American actors walked off the set of Adam Sandler's new comedy The Ridiculous Six on Wednesday, following a dispute over the film's script.

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The movie, developed by the Jewish comedian for Netflix as part of a four-picture deal, spoofs the 1960 western The Magnificent Seven and pokes fun at the classic genre as a whole. It was deemed offensive by the actors for its depiction of the Apache culture.

The controversy surrounds some of the names given to female characters – such as "Beaver’s Breath" and "No Bra" – costume inaccuracies and stereotypical jokes. One scene portrays a young woman squatting and urinating – while smoking a peace pipe, a sacred ritual in Native American culture.

Netflix, which is spearheading the project along with Sandler's Happy Madison production company, defended the script, calling it a "broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized."

"The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous," the US streaming giant said in a statement. It features "a diverse cast that is not only part of – but in on – the joke."

Loren Anthony, a member of the Navajo Nation and one of about 10 actors who left the New Mexico set, said he only agreed to join the cast once a "cultural consultant" was signed on. "I was asked a long time ago to do some work on this and I wasn't down for it," Anthony told the Indian Country Today Media Network. "Then they told me it was going to be a comedy, but it would not be racist. So I agreed to it but on Monday things started getting weird on the set."

The actor said the film's producers brushed off complaints about the jokes, justifying them in the name of humor. On Friday, he took to Twitter to express his gratitude: "I would like to thank my family, friends and supporters for standing with us, as we stand for our indigenous people. #NativePride."

Actress Allison Young said cast members who voiced their concerns about the character portrayal and plot were told they "should leave" if they were "so sensitive." Sandler's company has yet to comment on the controversy.

The Ridiculous Six began production in Santa Fe in April. The 50 First Dates star clinched a lucrative deal with Netflix last October to make four feature films for the streaming service empire.

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