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Will Disney’s new Tonto be any better?

May 12, 2013 • Entertainment


This April 2012 photo released by the Navajo Nation shows, Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim, left, with Armie Hammer and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly in Monument Valley during the filming of “The Lone Ranger.” (AP Photo/Emerald Craig, Navajo Nation)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Hollywood image of Tonto once had the Lone Ranger’s sidekick wearing a thin headband and lots of dangling fringes. The latest Disney version has a shirtless Johnny Depp adorned with feathers, a face painted white with black stripes, and a stuffed crow on his head.

The character in the upcoming “The Lone Ranger” still speaks broken English and chants prayers. But Depp has said he’s less subservient, honors the proud American Indian warrior and displays a dry sense of humor seen throughout Indian Country. The production even hired a Comanche adviser, making it decidedly a Comanche story, and received the blessing of other tribes through ceremonies during filming.

Yet Disney has caught flak for what some say is the perpetuation of stereotypes through a character that lacks any real cultural traits. Moviegoers will have to wait until July 3 to see how all this plays out on screen. For now, they’re getting a glimpse through movie trailers that have left them both optimistic and angry, and wondering to what extent the new Tonto portrays actual American Indians.

What has most people scratching their heads is the black crow that appears to hover over Depp’s head, and the black stripes that run vertically down his painted face. The inspiration came from a painting by artist Kirby Login to read more

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