Adam Sandler’s done it again. The “Happy Gilmore” comedian has caused a stir on the set of his first Netflix original film, “The Ridiculous 6.” Several Native American actors and a cultural adviser have walked out in protest of the film’s demeaning on-screen portrayal of the native extras.
Indian Country reports about a dozen actors and the consultant walked off the set Wednesday, April 22. The largely Navajo cast members who left said the film repeatedly insulted native women and elders while misrepresenting the Apache, the tribe indigenous to the region of Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
The actors said many of the native women’s names were along insensitive lines of Beaver’s Breath and No Bra. One actress was depicted as urinating while smoking a peace pipe. The production crew also did not fix the on-set teepees to their specifications, showing disregard for the cast and crew who raised concern.
“They told me it was going to be a comedy, but it would not be racist. So I agreed to it but on Monday things started getting weird on the set,” Navajo actor Loren Anthony told Indian Country. He said the production made no effort to get anything culturally right on set. Behind-the-scenes photos given to the outlet showed Adam Sandler in Native American dress for his role in “The Ridiculous 6.”
A young Navajo actress, Alison Young said when their concerns were brought up to the crew, they were ignored. She said one producer told them, “'If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.'” Another actress who walked off the set concurred that the advice from the cultural consultant went largely unheeded. “Nothing has changed,” said Young. “We are still just Hollywood Indians.”
According to Cinemablend, the plot will revolve around the oddball group raised by a Native American tribe as they bumble through a knock-off of “The Magnificent Seven” and come across old Western stereotypes like an industrialist (Jon Lovitz) and outlaws (Danny Trejo and Will Forte). The movie is also including historical figures like Wyatt Earp (Blake Shelton), General Custer (David Spade) and Mark Twain (Vanilla Ice). Other cast members include Dan Aykroyd, Nick Nolte and Steve Buscemi.
This is far from the only Adam Sandler film to offend audiences, but what’s odd about “The Ridiculous 6” is that the controversy is starting while the film is still shooting. Sandler previously drew ire for “That’s My Boy” over its treatment of statutory rape and the latent homophobia of the comedy co-starring Kevin James, “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.”
Choctaw actor David Hill said the production had reached out to the cultural adviser and some of the native actors who left the set. Hill says he hopes the production will listen to their concerns this time. "We understand this is a comedy, we understand this is humor, but we won’t tolerate disrespect,” he explained.
“The Ridiculous 6” has yet to announce a release date. Shooting on the Netflix original film began in February.