Adam Sandler movies have always divided the cinema going audience, but it seems his latest project, The Ridiculous Six, may have offended on a more fundamental level.
A group of Native American actors have walked off the set of the Western-comedy amid allegations the film is "totally disrespectful" of Apache and Native American culture.
Nine actors, as well as the film's Native American consultant, have walked off the set in New Mexico following a spate of perceived insults and insensitivities in the script. One of the main issues appears to be offensive names given to some Native American women characters, such as Beaver's Breath and No Bra. Furthermore, Native American actors took offence at a scene which featured a Native American woman urinating outside while smoking a peace pipe, as well as other inaccuracies.
After bringing up these concerns to producers, the Native American extras were told they could leave if they were offended - which they ultimately did.
Actor Loren Anthony told the Associated Press:
"Right from the get-go, it didn't feel right. But we it let it go. Once we found out more about the script, we felt it was totally disrespectful to elders and Native women."
Navajo actress and former Dartmouth film student Allison Young claimed, "Nothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians," adding:
"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."
The film, which is part of a four-movie deal struck up between Sandler and online distributor Netflix, is set to star Sandler, Taylor Lautner, Nick Nolte and Steve Buscemi. It was co-written by Sandler along with his longterm collaborator Tim Herlihy.
In a statement, Netflix defended the film, claiming it was a satire of The Magnificent Seven, as well the stereotypes prevalent in traditional Westerns:
"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 movie has 'ridiculous' in the title for a reason: Because it is ridiculous."
However, Ben Shelly, the outgoing president of the Navajo Nation President did not accept this argument, claiming:
"Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter. I applaud these Navajo actors for their courage and conviction to walk off the set in protest."
Sandler has been hoping to develop The Ridiculous Six for several years, and the film has hardly had a smooth ride. Originally, it was due to be developed by Warner Bros. but it was eventually dropped due to the poor box office results of Blended and Seth MacFarlane's similar Western comedy, A Million Ways To Die In The West.
Is Sandler right to parody the Native American culture? Check out The Magnificent Seven trailer:
Are the Navajo actors right to be offended?