Real ‘Lone Ranger’ Black; Depp’s Tonto Nominated for Razzie
When the Academy Awards’ list of Oscar nominations rolled out yesterday, many worthy contenders were left off of the list or snubbed, as some would say.
But a snub or two is just part of the Hollywood culture. Every actor, writer, producer or director will sometimes feel their hard work is overlooked.
But hurt feelings are not the same thing as blatant snubs.
The Lone Ranger, which was nominated for best visual effects and best makeup and hairstyling, stars Armie Hammer, who is white, as the Lone Ranger and Johnny Depp as his Native friend Tonto. But, according to an article on the PoliticalBlindSpot.com the movie and the legend are historically inaccurate.
The real Lone Ranger was an African-American man, Bass Reeves, who lived with Native Americans. Not surprisingly, and like many Native heroes, aspects of his life were written out of Hollywood’s story, including his ethnicity.
The basics of the story, as the article noted, remained the same: a lawman hunting bad guys, accompanied by a Native American, riding on a white horse, and with a silver trademark.
Reeves, who the legend is based on, was a free black man who headed West to leave the racist structure of the East and South. During the Civil War, he escaped to freedom after beating his “master” almost to death. His master attacked him after losing to Reeves at a game of cards.
Reeves knew that he would be beaten or worse, so he fled to the then Indian Territory of today’s Oklahoma, and lived harmoniously among the Seminole and Creek Nations of Native American Indians.
Also, said PoliticalBlindSpot.com, “Reeves’ companion was a Native American posse man and tracker who he often rode with, when he was out capturing bad guys. In all, there were close to 3000 of such criminals they apprehended, making them a legendary duo in many regions.”
When the recent film version of Lone Ranger was released,Time wrote about Depp’s decision to play a Native character.
“… debate over the big-budget western epic has been raging online for years, ever since Johnny Depp first said in 2011 that he wanted to make a movie of the radio and TV classic — and that, rather than playing the masked man, he wanted to play Tonto. As might be expected when a prominent actor decides to take on a character who is specifically a race other than his own, the controversy wasn’t far behind. Is it O.K. for Depp to play Tonto? Is it ever O.K. for someone to play a race other than his own?”
History books have been written about Reeves and Tonto and could easily has been used as source material. Vaunda Michaux Nelson’s book, Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal, won the Coretta Scott King Award for best author; and Arthur Burton released Black Gun, Silver Star: The Life and Legend of Frontier Marshal Bass Reeves.
Instead, according to CNN.com, Depp is up for his first Razzie as “Worst Actor” in a movie; and Lone Ranger is nominated for “Worst Picture” of the year.
So the movie is up for some awards, which means the only one snubbed this year was Bass Reeves.
You can read more about Reeves here.
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