It's pretty safe to say that Adam Sandler has gone from the cult-favorite funnyman of the 90's and 2000's to one of the most hated actors in Hollywood. Pretty much everything that Sandler touches turns to failure, from Box-office bombs like Blended and That's My Boy to critically reviled disasters like Jack and Jill and Grown Ups 2, Sandler's name is consistently brought up in the discussion of what is wrong with Hollywood today. While his negative image is based largely on his low-quality movies, a recent incident has a few people looking down on him on a personal level.
During yesterday's filming of Sandler's Netflix exclusive movie The Ridiculous Six, the Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN) reported that about twelve Native American actors walked off the set. The reason for the walkout was because of Sandler's allegedly racist and sexist script, and for its overall portrayal of the Apache people.
According to ICTMN, the script called for characters named Beaver's Breath and No Bra and a scene where a Native American woman squats and urinates while smoking a peace pipe. Anybody who has sat through Grown Ups 2 would know that this is the kind of humor Sandler loves to write about.
One of the Native actors, Loren Anthony, said that he had his doubts about the project, and that Sandler went too far. He said to ICTMN:
“There were about a dozen of us who walked off the set...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."
Anthony also said that despite the promise of being respectful to the Native people, the costumes the Apache characters were supposed to wear looked more like Comanche clothing. Even the cultural consultant walked off the set in protest.
Native actress Goldie Tom added:
Our costumes did not portray Apache people. The consultant, Bruce spoke to the crew and told them we should not have braids and chokers and he was very disappointed. He asked to speak with Adam Sandler. We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said 'It's in the script and we are not going to change it.' Overall, we were just treated disrespectfully, the spoke down to us and treated everyone with strong tones.”
Another Native actress named Allison Young felt so degraded, that she was practically brought to tears:
When I began doing this film, I had an uneasy feeling inside of me and I felt so conflicted...I talked to a former instructor at Dartmouth and he told me to take this as finally experiencing stereotyping first hand. 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.
Some will argue that these people are being too sensitive, as many people today tend to be. However, for others, the root of the problem is that Sandler's script contains no shred of respect for the Native people, and simply aims to use them as fodder for his cringe-worthy toilet jokes. His failure to make his cast of Native actors feel welcome is one of many reasons why the whole diversity issue is constantly debated in Hollywood.
Even if you aren't offended by Sandler's treatment of the actors, do you really want to see another Sandler movie where urination is a comedic highlight? Sadly, some people will still say: "yes."