Those Navajo leaders received a sizable donation from Disney, though. I’m not saying it was a bribe, but they did not say there were ok with that production out of the goodness of their own heart. They did so for significant monetary gain. And who could blame them? So many Natives in America are criminally below below the poverty line. Principles do not feed people, sadly. If those people came on TV (at the behest of the NFL and another donation) to say that The Washington Redskins isn’t an unbelievably racist name for a football team, would that make it OK??
The only person who ever said Johnny Depp has Native ancestry is Depp himself. He was super vague about it and just assumed he was part Native. So Disney, trying to get on top of this, did some extensive research into this and found that Depp had no Native blood. But do you know who did have a significant Native Ancestor? Armie Hammer. Yes, the mayonaisse sandwich playing The Lone Ranger. He is descendant of one of the earliest documented Cherokee leaders and known peace advocate, Chief Kanagatucko. Ancestory.com, the people hired by Disney to uncover Depp’s Native Claims never released any information about Depp’s Heritage. Isn’t that strange? It’s almost like it doesn’t exist and that information was suppressed, as a “no comment” is less damaging than a conformation or denial.
So since you think that Native American Heritage gives a white man carte blanche to play a Native, please tell me the reason why Armie Hammer, a dude so white he makes Casper the Ghost looked tanned, could have played Tonto.
It is inherently racist and wrong for white men to feel justification in playing other races. It’s not “acting” it’s just modern blackface and it’s ugly. The only person who could and should have played Tonto was a Native American actor. Believe me, they exist. There was more Native American actors in the new season of House of Cards than I’ve ever seen on TV before.
"Oh, but you shouldn’t cast a big part like that and give it to an unknown! They won’t be good!! You need an experienced actor like Depp to handle the role!" is a defense I heard a lot. Well, I think this Oscar season proved that actors in their first film role can still make a big impact.
Barkhad Abdi and Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o have something to say about newcomers not having any impact in their first film. So they could have cast a Native actor and they could have been an amazing Tonto. But they went the safe route and cast a white man.
Basically, this gif sums up everything about how I feel about this situation.