Adam Sandler is usually only accused of making terrible films, but now the comedian is facing much more serious allegations. Several Native American actors left the set of Sandler's latest movie after discovering multiple elements of the script and production that were offensive and demeaning to Native American people and culture.
Filming was underway on Ridiculous Six on April 22 in New Mexico when about a dozen Native American actors and a cultural adviser quit the movie in protest. The actors claimed that script and production details came to light which included insults to Native women and inaccurate depictions of Apache culture. Offending portions of the script included sexually oriented parody names of female characters including "No Bra" and "Beaver’s Breath", and a scene which called for a Native actress to squat and mimic urinating while smoking a peace pipe.
Actor Loren Anthony shared that he had actually turned the movie down once, but reconsidered when producers assured him that depictions of Native people would be respectful.
“I was asked a long time ago to do some work on this and I wasn't down for it. Then 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. We were supposed to be Apache, but it was really stereotypical and we did not look Apache at all. 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?'"
The actors involved also claimed that producers were dismissive of the Native cast's concerns and input. Navajo actress Allison Young stated:
"We talked to the producers about our concerns. They just told us, 'If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.' I was just standing there and got emotional and teary-eyed. I didn’t want to cry but the feeling just came over me. This is supposed to be a comedy that makes you laugh. A film like this should not make someone feel this way.”
“Nothing has changed,” Young added. “We are still just Hollywood Indians.”
Netflix, who greenlit the film for an exclusive distribution, responded to the controversy with a statement released to Deadline:
“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."
Sample pages from the 2012 version of the script have also leaked online which seem to support the actors' claims of material that stereotypes and degrades Native people. There is no character mentioned in the original script named "No Bra", though it seems that the same character is in the script under an even more offensive original name, Sits-On-Face.
Ridiculous Six is a spoof of the Western classic The Magnificent Seven. The script was co-written by Adam Sandler, who also stars in the film. Sandler's Happy Madison Productions is also producing the film.