"The Lone Ranger" is a Mind-Numbing, Schizophrenic Trainwreck

So against my instincts, I went to see The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp as Tonto, and...some dude as The Lone Ranger.  Now...when Depp was first cast for this role, it stirred up quite a bit a chatter.  I mean, if you're going to supposedly going to have a new-and-improved Tonto running about shirtless and being tough...why wasn't Rick Mora cast?

Rick Mora
Did Michael Spears not want a paycheck?

Michael Spears
If you want to stick to the humorous, wouldn't Tatanka Means have been an obvious choice?

Tatanka Means

And if you wanted an older Native American actor (Depp's in his fifties), you could always give Jay Tavare a call.

Jay Tavare
Heck, Nathaniel Arcand's in his forties now.  Doesn't that count for anything?

Nathaniel Arcand
So why were none of these men so much as given a ring?

Then there's the film itself.  Clearly, they had Absolutely No Clue what kind of movie they wanted to make.  Tonto, despite his new skills and bravado, remains a campy caricature of a Native American man.  The Lone Ranger is just incompetent.  The jokes are flat, lacking in originality, and the timing is off.

And while that trainwreck is going, there are these seriously deep, moving scenes worthy of a powerful historical drama.  Yeah...I know.  Even the quality of film seems to change when the scenes switch to Tonto's back story, where as a child he unwittingly sells out his own tribe for cheap pocketwatch, and comes home to find their bodies strewn along the river.  We learn that this experience "broke his mind", making him the oddball that he is now.

Then there are the scenes with the Comanche themselves.  Their scenes not campy; if anything, they're quite serious, right up until they're annihilated in battle.  When they decided to go to war with the US Calvary, they know they're going to die, but the Chief reasons that they're "already ghosts."

We also see the sick, stomach-churning, rage-inducing corruption which brings about their death and the viewer is left wondering: Is this movie supposed to be scathing historical commentary (on the 4th of July, no less), or is history merely being used to bring depth to a tacky, multi-million-dollar error in judgment, which was an hour too-long and whose WTF action scenes put my viewing partner to sleep right in the theater?

And then...there's this (h/t Dulce Vita):
Still, there have been a few harsh accusations of racism following early screenings of the movie. But those critique have largely been drowned out, in part thanks to Disney's aggressive campaign of outreach and ass-covering; in other words, their carefully calculated efforts to insulate themselves from charges of racial insensitivity.

"[Johnny's] part Native American," Bruckheimer stressed on
Hannity, a disputed claim that was repeated over and over during the run-up to The Lone Ranger's premiere, to counter those complaining about the race of the actor playing the Comanche warrior. (In May 2012, he was made an honorary member of the Comanche Nation.)

There were many other ways Depp, Bruckheimer, Disney, and co. demonstrated at least a superficial consideration for American Indian culture. The production hired cultural advisers from the Comanche Nation to come on set. Native American actors are featured in the film, part of which was shot on the Navajo Nation. Prominent Native leaders were invited for photo ops with Depp. A special premiere was held in the capital of the Comanche Nation, with leaders of Comanche Nation, Navajo Nation, the National Congress of American Indians, and Americans for Indian Opportunity in attendance. (These individuals did not respond to Mother Jones' requests for comment.) Proceeds from a motorcycle auction and a $1,000-per-ticket gala event at Disneyland went toward the American Indian College Fund.

"It's like, the white people are the one[s] who have the problem," Hammer said in an interview in April. "But the Indians...are like, 'This is great. We love it.'" (This is of course not entirely true; Michelle Shining Elk, a member of the Colville tribe who also works in the movie business, blasted the film for in her view reinforcing the perception that "we are uneducated, irrelevant non-contributors to society living in teepees out on the Plains.")

However much Bruckheimer, Depp, and everyone else involved actually give a damn about the feelings of Native Americans is anyone's guess. But at the very least, their efforts are a crash course in how to methodically counter bad buzz. It's just that this heap of good PR doesn't seem to be helping the film's ticket sales at all.

A publicist for
The Lone Ranger and Disney could not be reached for comment. (Source)
Well...I guess there is some justice in this world after all.

Take that, Hollywood.


  1. There is a need for Indigenous people of this land to step into the filmmaking game. Time to tell their stories via the DNA of their Ancestors.

  2. I was hoping you'd tackle this, b/c when I saw the commercials and saw that Johnny Depp was Tonto, I was like, oh, so are they rewriting Tonto to be white, b/c if not, how is redface tolerated in 2013? But what am I saying, they still tolerate yellowface and blackface.
    But still wow. And where has Adam Beach been? It seemed like he was the go to Native American man for a minute.

  3. White people who want to be interesting need to stop claiming to be part Native American...Johnny Depp is from Kentucky, but you know, most Southern whites whose grandparents want to explain why they tan so easily start passing those lies down.
    At any rate, anyone who lives as a white man, has white privilege, and has to claim some unprovable Native lineage should not have been cast in this role.
    Heck, Mark-Paul Gossalear is half-South Asian (Indonesian) and even though he has a brown mother, casting him as a MOC/South Asian would be problematic b/c that is NOT how he lives, not how he is treated, and it's nothing that ever even comes up (that he's a white boy who is NOT really white).
    So I really cannot stomach any more stories about Johnny Depp's pretend Cherokee princess grandmother, which is usually what white people claim.
    This totally reminds me of the high school English teacher I had to was so dark her family used to get the stare down in the 50's when they walked into restaurants (I was raised in KY as was she). But yeah, this lady was just a couple of shades lighter than my mom, and told us how dark she was in the summer (and trust me, her winter skin was never pale), AND she had super kinky curly, very coarse hair that she always kept in a bun. Um, yeah.
    There is a LOT of that in the South. A LOT.

  4. Other than the eyeroll-inducing casting of my man Johnny, nothing about this movie sparked my interest. Saw a preview; was like, "What in the entire Periodic Table of Fucks is this bullshit?" It looked like hot garbage, so me spending my money was never an issue.

    And a resounding HELL YES to all of the aforementioned Native American actors, especially my 3rd baby daddy, Jay Tavare.

    1. Step back Amaya, Jay been my baby daddy ever since he took off his mask in Street Fighter playing Vega in 1994. Yeah, Ok I might have been 18 then but still. LOL


    2. *raises claws* Come on, Meanie...let's get it!!! Cause I was GROWN in 1994 (barely, but I was). Love that man.

  5. Went to the movies to see The Heat. Why did I waste my Fourth Of July weekend money like that. I also have no desire to see the Lone Ranger movie.

    Man,I really get so dick and tired of Hollywood using substitute characters to portray POCs. I thought that Johnny Depp was part Gypsy? (I suspected something as he doesn't look fully White).Still,there are lots of Native men who could have fit that role.
    and could have played in other non stereotypical movies.

    I just see them about making the money and moving on to another movie. Most of Hollywood could care less about being sensitive to others.

    1. Ugh! I meant to say "sick" not "d"

    2. Well, when Disney made the animated movie "Pocahontas" back in the 90s, they had no problem casting actual Native Americans to perform the voices of the Native American characters. I also recall running across a website where Native Americans urged people not to see the movie as they felt that it was historically inacurrate.

      I admit that because Johnny Depp is said to be part Native American, I was cool with him playing Tonto (also because I am also a huge fan). I don't know about the Gypsy stuff, but I believe he said that one of his grandmother's was either Native American or part such. Although I agree that they could have casted any of the men mentioned above, Depp was probably chosen due to name recognition. The other actors are not so well known.

    3. You do realize how many white people claim to be part Native American? And I don't know your ethnicity but I'm not a fan of white people who are only minorities when it is convenient/cool. Johnny Depp is a huge star b/c he's a white guy. He's not a Native American actor, and has never identified as such. He's not a verified member of ANY nation. I have Native American friends who are fairly white looking but they also are engaged with their culture, make sure people know they are minorities, and oh, can actually prove it.
      None of this, oh, my hair is dark b/c of my Cherokee princess grandmother.
      I think it's a bunch of BS. I wonder if the Gypsy stuff started b/c he's weird and played Captain Jack, who I know was influenced by Keith Richards, but yeah kind of fits in with a Roma stereotype as well.
      At any rate, he's from a medium-sized town in KY, and while the Roma are wandering people, I'd highly DOUBT that he is part Roma, which is really the appropriate term for what people are calling "Gypsies"...it is an actual ethnic group and I think the proper name should be used.

      I think that it must be awful to part of a racial group that has been treated so badly, is marginalized so much, but that is so easily appropriated by the people responsible for engaging of centuries of genocide against your ancestors.

    4. I don't think he's Gypsy either. Remember "Chocolat" (2000)? He played a Gypsy in that film, and I bet that if we follow the PR trail that far back, we'll find that started peddling that myth right before the premier.

      So as far as I can tell, Depp is just an actor who lays claim to whatever ancestry of whichever culture he's about to appropriate.

    5. Yep! They never want to claim any POC ancestry until they feel that it is something in it for them. Please!

    6. Not to be anal, but just so everyone know *ypsy is considered a slur so its best to just say Roma. It's on par with *igger for them.

    7. Anon,

      No, you're not being anal at all. Believe it or not, I had no idea. I'm glad that you let me know. The last thing I would want to do is offend them with harmful words. Considering that a lot of Romas live in my state(Ga, I had no idea of that either), its best that I did learn it.

    8. Shoot, I just learned something today.

  6. It's things like this that make me question this sudden cultural appreciation for nostalgia that's going on in American popular culture. It's just historical revisionism.

    Notice all the popularity of of pre civil rights movement shows/movies? You couldn't make a show like "Mad Men" in this day and age and have only one token minority, so writers are just reaching into the past to escape the increasingly diverse world we live in today. PoC are increasingly occupying roles that they didn't traditionally occupy and white people are trying to escape from it in their minds. It's just the weirdest backtracking I've seen. We're in an age where we have a PoC as leader of the free world, and the only academy award a black woman can win is playing as a housekeeper?(Octavia Spencer, in "The Help") I mean other than racist people, who even has a desire to see "The Lone Ranger" greenlit in this "post racial" day and age?

    That's why when people collectively pat themselves on the back for electing a black president I just give a side eye. It's like people have their eyes closed to everything else that's going on around them and are putting their fingers in their eyes going "la-la-la-la-la".

    "Hell on Wheels", that other show on AMC is also dearth of minorities and I KNOW the West at that point in time was HELLA MIXED. With a third of cowboys being Native American, another Third being Latino, and Another third being black.

    The fact that the media is pushing this "nostalgia" angle, after the Voting Rights Act has been amended, after the biggest turnout of black voters, just confirms my belief that racism is getting worse in America, not better. It's pushback from all the progress PoC are making in this country.

    This film, and the rest of it are a bad omen to me.

    1. I remembered reading a blog where the author discussed about the kinds of movies he noticed White folks like to see.One of the points he brought up was that he noticed how they liked pictures that paints an unflattering portraying like you said about The Help. the author was correct in what he said. Some of them don't want to see Black people in quality dramas/movies. As long as they are playing stereotypical roles ,its all good to them.I once read an article of how some Black writers work was rejected because it wasnt "real" to them and most producers only accept comedies.

      To some people Shonda Rhimes is a hero and I see as one also.Whether they like or dislike Scandal or Greys Anatomy ,she has done something great that so many Black women have been waiting for since the 1970s...to put Black women in leading roles..and honorable ones.Mind you that she's portrayed as an adulterer, but she's in the lead. She was a top job in Washington and she's a very powerful, attractive Black woman .

      Like you said, its pathetic how we have a powerful president and first lady who are Black that is living in the White house yet,you see more producers come up with unfounded stereotypical movies about us and other POCs ...anything to make POCs seem insignificant.

    2. I remember as a kid when "The Cosby Show" came out, one of my friends, who was Black, told me that she heard a White female teacher say that she felt that the show was not real for her. She tried to backtrack by saying that she knows that not all Black people were poor and living in the ghettos a la "Good Times", but she could not wrap her mind around the significance of the Huxtables. It was proof that some Whites were not used to seeing Black people living just as well, or better, than themselves.

      Also, I remember when Eddie Murphy's movie "Boomerang" came out and it was criticized by White critics for not having enough White people in the movie. Nearly everyone worked in a professional environment and no one was a negative Blakc stereotype and some critics had a problem with that. Murphy spoke about it on Jay Leno and Jay pointed out that it was a cultural bias in that some Whites were not used to seeing Black people in a professional environment with professional jobs. I see nothing has changed since.

    3. Fun fact...I'm from the South, and spent 13 years at a private school where I was the only black girl in my class all 13 years, and one of two POC for 12 years (the only other non-white was a Korean-American kid who did his best to upset his parents as much as possible).
      But when I was in elementary school when the Cosby Show came out, so I remember the flurry of articles about how it wasn't a real black family (what, no ghettos, no projects, everyone has high paying jobs?)
      A classmate's mom who wrote for the local paper actually made a point of interviewing our family to show how REAL the Cosby Show was for many black families in America. The Cosby Show was the first show that did show a family like mine (okay, way more kids, I have just 1 sister), but it really DID reflect my parents and friends and many members of our extended family.
      It was nice, b/c the ways that the Huxtables made sure their kids were connected to their history and their culture were the same things our parents did to keep of proud, informed, and engaged...so we got hauled to see Alex Haley and Nikki Giovanni (who went to college with one of my mom's friends, so I was told, "we're going to see Doonie's friend") and Diana Ross and Gwendolyn Brooks and many more.
      My mom also liked it b/c it showed how diverse a single black family could look. So many people have weird ideas about black skin and hair and the variations it can come in in a single family. (My mom is from a huge family so we have every skin color, eye color, and hair type so she liked that it showed that you can have kids who are lighter than you, darker than you, etc, b/c you know some peopled want to act like Sondra and Denise had to be foundlings b/c they were lighter than both parents).
      Boomerang is one of my favorite movies b/c it does show black people being people, and again, if you are a black professional, it is how your friend circles look. And it's funny as hell too boot.

    4. "Hell on Wheels" also has a 'sympathetic' lead character who owned slaves but was supposedly nice to them[UGH!]which is more bullshit propaganda. Plus they make most of the N/A people look bad and the lone black male is some happy to be free John Henry type darkie. I saw one episode and it was enough to make me never watch another one. The Walking Dead is just as bad by the way.

  7. Leo Princess7/7/13, 2:51 PM

    When it comes to 'Lone Ranger', I am very mixed. While I'm not surprised at all that HollyWTF didn't choose an actor who had more than a trace of NA ancestry, I'm not sure I'd like to see a true-blue NA actor playing second-fiddle side-kick to whoever they cast as the Ranger. Let's be honest here - The Powers That Be would never allow Tonto to be on equal and respectable footing with The Hero. I understand and empathize with NAs wanting more and better media representation, but I really doubt that will ever happen as long as H-Woods hounds are calling the shots.

    Either way, I long decided that Lone Ranger was not going to get my money much less a cursory glance. Not even as a bootleg. And while we're on the topic of Depp being eligible because of his (minute) NA connection, I bet they wouldn't let my 1/16th Scottish-yet-Black self play Merida in a live-action film. Not a chance.

  8. And it looks like the Lone Ranger is getting defeated at the box office by Despicable Me 2. Evil laugh- Muwhahahaahahahaha!



  9. Had to add this since there is all of this talk about Depp being part Native American. According to Ancestry.com, research published by Ancestry.com in 2013 stated that Depp is a descendant of Elizabeth Key Grinstead (b. 1630), a biracial woman, who was the first woman of African ancestry in the North American colonies to sue for her freedom from slavery and win. So, it looks like our friend Johnny is also of African descent.

    1. Leo Princess7/8/13, 11:43 AM

      Guess that means they'll hire him to play Booker T. Washington.

    2. Well, my earlier point was that a lot of "white" people who claim Native American are actually part black so I still think he has no NA ancestry and they started that lie to cover up the black part of the family.
      If you started living as a white person you have to cover your tracks.
      There was a really good documentary on PBS in the 90's called Secret Daughter and one of the companion sites to the documentary had a list of famous people who likely had African ancestry...it was fascinating.
      So Heather Locklear (descended from one of those Black Indian tribes), Jackie O, Humphrey Bogart, Queen Charlotte (wife of King George I, but if you see her pictures it is pretty obvious). But a lot more of your white friends aren't as white as they think.
      I had a college classmate who was "white" and said he'd found out that his grandmother was maybe 1/4 black and he thought it was interesting and openly shared it but she had not known for a long time and he said it pissed her off when he told people.

    3. Carol Channing is 1/4 Black and Carly Simon is 1/8th Black as well. I remember Paul Mooney once saying that there are a lot of White people in Hollywood who have Black ancestry and hide it. It is also estimated that roughly 20% of White Americans possess Black ancestry, so it all fits.

    4. Yeah, Carol Channing has always worn a wig and never had any kids (I think her long time husband was gay). Actually, I think she's 1/2 black though. Her dad was a light-skinned man who ran away to Seattle and married her white mom. So don't get it twisted. If he told her he was a "mulatto" I'd bet that was a lie. A lot of people try to "de-black" their light-skinned forbears b/c while she might feel comfortable admitting that she is part-black, she still needs it to be a smaller amount than it is (b/c again, she never had kids, and I don't necessarily think that was b/c she couldn't. Look at her lips. Does she look like she could have rolled the dice on that one?)
      Secret Daughter REALLY examines this issue well. The black daughter had to work YEARS to get her mother, who was also Carol Channing's age, to admit on camera that she was on fact her mom. The lady who made the documentary was given away b/c she was too much of a liability and infringed upon her white mom's privilege. Her mom had two illegitimate kids but kept and raised her white younger brother. The black family who took her in did a great job, but her mother only allowed her to visit by telling the lie that she was the child of the late housekeeper that the mother had agreed to "look in on." I swear, it's off topic but one of the deepest things I've ever seen. The lady is alumni of my college and I narrowly missed seeing her speak (her class year is the same multiple as mine so it means she has reunions on the same schedule as me...I unfortunately did NOT see the program where she was speaking in time to get to it).
      Nella Larsen wrote a great short story called "Passing. I highly recommend it. Actually, "Quicksand" is another good read.
      The website I mentioned actually exposes a lot of people who have never otherwise talked about it.

    5. Mickey,

      Oh my, my,my what tangled webs we weave. I knew that it looked as he has something else in that family tree of his..whether Black or Native American... he just never pictured me as fully White. I bet that he won't acknowledge that Black side of him that easily. It is also said that Heather Locklear has some in her.

      I don't know if you seen the TODAY show a couple of years ago,but if you did ,they did a DNA test on all of the staff of that show to see what ancestry they had in them. Would you believe that ALL of them had some Black in their genes? Yep! it seems that all of the members (at the time it was Katie Couric, Matt Lauer, Ann Curry and some other reporter ). are Black ..lol!It is said that 1 out of 10 Whites are mixed with Black. I can believe that, they just choose not to let the cat out of the bag.

    6. Yeah, but the thing is that those DNA ancestry tests are not accurate. One Black woman once had given her DNA to 6 different companies and she got back 6 different results. All of them could not be right. And if you watch the "Africna American Lives" DVDs, one woman's test on the show, Mae Jamison, could not find out where her African ancestors came from nor the amount of African ancestry she possessed.

      It also claimed that she had no European or Native American ancestry, but, supposedly, she was 1/8th Asian. There were some Chinese immigrants that intermarried with Blacks & Whites in Mississippi at one point. This type of science told me that it is not perfect. However, what you told me does not surprise me in the least regarding the TODAY show.

    7. I don't know about ancestry tests but I remember my dad being shock (as was I) that Ann Curry wasn't part black. I always thought that chick had some black ancestry even if officially her parents are white and Japanese...

  10. So when I first saw the commercial for Lone Ranger, I gave it the biggest side eye of my life.
    Then this past Sat, my friends wanted to see a movie, someone said what about Lone Ranger. I quickly said how about not and so we saw World War Z instead which is another whole discussion about WTH was the writers deal with portraying MoC as basically idiots who need to be saved by Brad Pitt's character but I digress...
    Yea Lone Ranger can kick rocks, big boulder types and Johnny Depp, I know you have issues in your personal life and all but sir Do Better.

  11. I don't know why but I'm always shocked that films like these continue to be made. They had their place in pop "culture" when the show was around, and now it's done. The series wasn't made in a constructive way for anyone so perhaps we should just let this fade into the wind eh? For those who haven't seen it, I recommend Reel Injun, a really well made documentary about how indigenous people have historically been represented in cinema, and guesses for where representation is headed. I was pleased to see about 90% of the commentators were Native American and influential in their communities, so this story wasn't just interpreted by someone else. There's also a similar one about Asians in American cinema but I don't remember what it's called.

    1. There's also a similar one about Asians in American cinema but I don't remember what it's called.

      It's "The Slanted Screen".


This blog is strictly moderated. Everyone is now able to comment again, however, all Anonymous posts will be immediately deleted. Comments on posts more than 30 days old are generally dismissed, so try to stay current with the conversations.