Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Indian Princess

      The article and reading for this week hit a wrong note with me. I grew up going to national parks and always wanting to surround myself with nature. On a trip to Arizona I found myself surrounded by "Native American" culture and was inspired by their relationship with nature and careful use of resources. Despite this positive opinion, I think I have always had a fictional idea of true Native American life.  Although there may have been more truth in my previously held conceptions about Native Americans than the "sidekick" or "warrior" stereotype, I still have been affected by the media's portrayals.  My favorite movie as a child, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, featured a Native American and a horse as the main protagonists. This character still had many of the featured stereotypes of Native American culture in the media.  As the reading pointed out, between all the tribes that previously existed in North America, only some wore feathers and lived in teepees. However, this image has been mine, and many others, long ingrained perception.  Even now in more recent culture the "Indian Princess" has become a popular image in halloween costumes and fashion.  These costumes and clothes mostly reflect the media stereotype, not the actual reality.

      I was surprised too by the classes reaction to the article about Disney and the Lone Ranger. Everyone seemed to feel so strongly one way or the other about it.  I personally am on the fence about the ordeal.  I feel as though the stereotype that will most likely be featured in this film is more ignorant than damaging.  It will not give Native Americans a bad name but it will continue misled ideas into the next generation.  However, many were arguing that Disney would not want to do anything politically incorrect since it would cause outrage.  However, I believe stereotypes do not always push negative qualities, they just maintain an unrealistic generalization.  So while Disney may not be directly "offensive" and crude, chances are the image they create of "Tonto" will still be a false image of what Native Americans were truly like. Even if the movie does create a more positive and heroic role for the character, it will be stereotyped.

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