So right there, you know there's going to be problems.
My biggest problem is that POC got the worst portrayals in the film; they were either violently angry or stiff, wooden, two-dimensional talking heads. It was frustrating as hell, because I know that if Native Americans had been put squarely in charge of everything, this film could've been phenomenal.
My biggest beef was the characterization of Black Cloud himself, portrayed by the jaw-dropping Eddie Spears. Black Cloud is a young Navajo man who can't remember his mother, has an alcoholic father, is living in poverty on the Navajo reservation, and when applying for "res housing" he gets kicked to the end of the waiting list because he's a "mixed blood." Turns out, one of his paternal ancestors was basically the equivalent of Dances-with-Wolves.
Naturally, Black Cloud ain't too happy with his situation, and we see that he is furious. He knows his history; he's furious over the murder and exploitation of his people, over the modern imperialism he deals with daily, and yet...Black Cloud's anger is presented to the audience as being irrational, self-destructive, and unnecessary. When Black Cloud calls out his trainer, a Navajo man who fought for the US army, he's called ignorant.
And after beating the shit out of a white guy, dodging arrest from the guy's uncle (a cop) because police "ain't got no power on the res", Black Cloud is later pulled over off the reservation while driving drunk by the same cop. This cop lets him go after imparting some bullshit about "playing the hand we're dealt" and reminiscing about John Wayne films ("Things were simpler back then"). Seriously? Last I recalled, Native American and Latino men get pulled out of their cars for a lot less in this country.
Black Cloud's archnemesis in the ring is a loudmouth, angry black man (surprise, surprise). We're not even told why he's angry, because apparently in the white mind, there's no "reason" why a black man would be angry.
Speaking of black people in this film, I noticed something about the musical themes. When Black Cloud is training for his fights, sublimating his anger towards white people, or all in all being a good little Indian, country music is playing. When he gets mad about his white heritage, he self-destructs, starts drinking heavily, and rebels by going to hang with other "mixed bloods." Apparently, they're all "losers" (to quote a pure-blooded character); the girls are hoes, the mixed blood crowd drinks too much, they're all profane, and surprise, surprise...they listen to hip hop. The not-so-subtle message to Native Americans rings quite clear: follow us, but avoid them.
Don't even get me started on the depiction of women in this film. The good ones are either dead (like Black Cloud's mom), dumb (like his girlfriend, who went partying with some white boy, got knocked up, and left to raise the kid alone), or just mainly out of sight, (like the wife of Black Cloud's trainer). The bad ones are drunken hoes who are mixed-blooded and listen to hip hop. Or they're white women, ranging from unwashed to bimbo.
Now, some of you may think I'm being really harsh, stating that Native Americans don't get films often and at least the protagonist is Native American. It is not enough that these movies are done. They have to be done correctly. Look at what's come out since Black Cloud. I couldn't even sit through 20 minutes of Pathfinder, which was friggin' Dances with Wolves all over again...but with Vikings this time.
White folks telling POC to stop being angry - and trying to be deep/clever/subtle about it - is a huge freaking pet peeve of mine, in case you haven't noticed. Black Cloud's anger is justified and in the beginning of the film, when he beats the tar out of that white guy, the white folks get on his case about how while the man could be an asshole sometimes, "he didn't deserve that." Um...POC anger is justified, and will be meted out at our discretion, thank you very much.
After all, we have to play the hands we're dealt.
Here endeth the rant.
|Nathaniel Arcand, boo...I'mma need the long hair back, please.|
|Lawd have all kinds of mercy.|
|What can I even say about this one?|