Adam Sandler’s revolutionary foray into a production deal with Netflix is running into a snag. Sandler’s hard at work on a Western comedy titled The Ridiculous Six, which currently is filming in New Mexico. Native American actors taking umbrage with depictions in the script have walked off. Instead of bowing to the controversy, though, Netflix is firing back.
The entertainment company has responded to claims made by Native Americans that the content of the Ridiculous Six script "grossly" misrepresents the Apache culture. But in response, Netflix takes the avenue of "it’s all in the name of a joke." Yahoo reports that a Netflix spokesperson stated:
The movie has ridiculous in the title for a reason: because it is ridiculous. It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of — but in on — the joke."
The Native American cast members would disagree. On Wednesday, they walked off the set of the comedy – which stars Nick Nolte, Terry Crews, Steve Buscemi, Will Forte, Luke Wilson and Whitney Cummings, among others – because the film is insulting to their culture. According to the Indian Country Today Media Network, roughly a dozen actors left the set. One man, Anthony, claims he initially turned the movie down but eventually agreed to act when he was told the movie had hired a cultural consultant. He said everything was going well, but on Monday, things started getting "weird on set." Anthony said:
We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. We looked more like Comanche. One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver's breath. One character says 'Hey, Beaver's Breath.' And the Native woman says, 'How did you know my name?'"
Adam Sandler’s characters tend to offend all types, and his humor goes after race, sexuality, gender… anything that he can view through his unique, adolescent prism. But it’s rarely in an effort to hurt. It’s usually in search of what he thinks will make his audience laugh.
I do find it interesting that Netflix would take the side of its talent. Nowadays, corporations with something to lose are often very quick to apologize to a group – no matter how large or small – that is claiming to be insulted. Maybe Netflix knows that it still has to make three films with Sandler after The Ridiculous Six (or forfeit a lot of money is reported contracts). This issue doesn’t seem over, but at the moment, Netflix is keeping its weight behind Adam Sandler. Let’s see what happens next.