|Film director Chris Eyre tells Indian Country Today that the debate over the Tonto role in The Lone Ranger was a waste of time:
How do you see the debate on The Lone Ranger, and the issue about Native American actors not being hired for Native roles?
As a Native making movies on Native themes, my opinion is that there are three types of films including Native Americans: The first one is a bad representation of Natives in the movies, and the second is related to a new generation describing their own experience making movies, including my 14-year-old daughter. And the last one, like The Lone Ranger, is a pure invention of the Indian for the masses, without specific history, having nothing to do with Natives, other then dressing someone as people expect an Indian to be -- a pan-Indian composite. So I am not offended -- it's humorous, comical. Where is the reality of Natives? I see nothing there as a reflection of our reality. It's a total farce, you can see that from the beginning. It could be dangerous if people believe that Natives are like that, but then again, it was not written by a Native -- it is pure entertainment.
And I laughed at it, as good entertainment. So this debate is a ridiculous use of our time. The Baby Veronica case is a more relevant discussion. Regarding Native actors -- if a Native actor had to play Tonto, it would be worse for him than for Johnny Depp, since this character never existed. And there is such a long history of actors playing Native roles, like Burt Reynolds -- this is nothing new, thus it does not seem much of a controversy to me. The invention of Indians will continue forever; the Lone Ranger is a fictitious story, just entertainment.
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Director Chris Eyre: Debating Tonto Was 'a Ridiculous Use of Our Time'
(Indian Country Today 11/30)