Gyasi Ross: Much love for Skins in movies
"Another thing that my family absolutely loves – unabashedly – is seeing other Skins on television or in the movies. The Skin actor/actress doesn’t even have to be a big part – bit roles are just as much sources of pride. Oh yeah, and cartoons work too! We were ecstatic to see the small, yet inspiring role of the Alaska Native lady with the really, really, really big breasts in “The Simpsons” movie. John Redcorn from King of the Hill and Apache Chief from the Superfriends? My heroes. My non-athletic mother, to this day, does three back flips whenever she sees Chief Bromden in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Big role or large role, either way, my mom excitedly points them out and asks – “You know that he’s Indian, right?”

Of course, mom; we used to have the video disc.

My friends are slightly different than me and my family. It seems like many of them love to dissect and analyze every single Skin role – on television or in movie – for accuracy and stereotypes. Not that seeking accuracy is bad in any way – it’s just that for me, movies are movies, not documentaries.

For example, once upon a broke Friday night, one of my closest friends from Acoma Pueblo and I got into a heated debate about the Disney movie, “Pocahontas.” I didn’t realize the hornet’s nest that I got myself into – I spoke glowingly of the movie. I told her how much my nieces LOVED the movie and that I frankly thought that, for a cartoon character, Pocahontas was extremely hot. Almost Jessica Rabbit hot. [And let’s keep it real – Jessica’s body was absolutely out of this world. And Jessica’s lips? Wow. Jessica Rabbit’s lips are the definition of pouty – they just did not make any sense. But I digress.]

But my friend didn’t agree. In fact, I’m sure she used a few curse words when she told me how disgraceful and bad the depiction of Pocahontas really was. My dear friend talked about how Pocahontas didn’t really marry John Smith but that Pocahontas had been captured. And while captured, Pocahontas met John Rolfe – her future hubby. The truth was very different than the Disney cartoon’s depiction of how she met her husband."

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: The thing about skins (Indian Country Today 6/22)

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Gyasi Ross: Fancy Skins and non-fancy Skins (6/15)