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A line uttered by actress Rondi Reed (left, with series star Melissa McCarthy) on the series 'Mike & Molly' has sparked controversy.

'Drunk Indians' Joke Lands 'Mike & Molly' in Hot Water

ICTMN Staff
3/5/13

American Indians were blindsided by a quip on a recent episode of the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly. At one point in the show, Rondi Reed, the actress who plays Ruth, mother of Mike (Billy Gardell) and mother-in-law to Molly (Melissa McCarthy), said "Arizona? Why would I go to Arizona? It's nothing but a furnace full of drunk Indians."

Many Natives in Arizona, which is home to 21 federally recognized tribes, are failing to see the humor.

"It’s offensive, it’s derogatory, it’s deplorable," Erny Zah, communications director for the President and Vice President of the Navajo Nation, told ABCNews.com. "Ignorance is one thing, but this must have passed through a lot of eyes before it appeared on a network show."

Zah told an Associated Press reporter that it's "easy to make fun of" people who struggle with alcoholism, but "the disease itself isn’t funny, the coming home late at night, possibly beating on family members, the absence of family members, the fear it instills in a lot of children."

The Native American Journalists' Association (NAJA) said in a statement at NAJA.com that "This comment shows blatant disregard for the original inhabitants of this land and perpetuates antiquated stereotypes of Native Americans."

Both Zah and NAJA said that an apology is in order -- "but it can't fix the damage done," Zah added.

"To me, it’s not funny making fun of a minority group," NAJA President Rhonda LeValdo told the AP. "Are we supposed to be the entertainment for mainstream?"

Both the Associated Press and ABCNews.com solicited comment from CBS, but were declined.

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ric's picture
ric
Submitted by ric on
It's obvious that no one associated with this show has had any real experience with alcoholism in their family...That's a horrible, insensitive remark to make...

Marilyn Wounded Head's picture
Marilyn Wounded Head
Submitted by Marilyn Wounded Head on
Two weeks ago, on the Tim Allen show, similar conversation was on the show. This show had a portrayal of the American Indian and the talk of political correctness. The show had some Indian guy dressed in leather/period dress at the end of the show. The youngest boy was repeating the stereotypical words of Tim Allen's character. Please look into this. I think they were portraying Buffalo Bill. Tim Allen wouldn't be touched because his character is republican and often derides, women, etc.

SD grouch's picture
SD grouch
Submitted by SD grouch on
Given that the character who said these lines is an old bigoted white woman, it was within character, so it should not come as a surprise. Especially since there was a line about "Indian casinos" in an earlier episode, that no one got upset about. Still I agree that it feeds negative perception of us, albeit on a real & serious issue within our families & communities. It just supports my thesis that Native People are not seen as equal or deserving of basic considerations by most of American society, an neither a Crazy Horse monument or Native American Heritage month will fundementally change how we are viewed or treated by the dominant society.

Stella Chavez's picture
Stella Chavez
Submitted by Stella Chavez on
I have enjoyed the show in the past, but after Feb. 25th's episode, I don't think I will be watching it anymore. I actually gasp as that came out of her mouth. Even my boyfriend, who is white was appalled. I've been looking everywhere to see if an apology has been made, but nothing. Even on some of the day time shows where everything is talked about, I have not seen it mentioned. Really terrible. Had it been anyother race, there would have been lots of talk. I've seen it happen. So what is taking them. It's up to us to have our voice heard. What happened to Idle No More. We need to speak up.

Nand276's picture
Nand276
Submitted by Nand276 on
Typical of white society to demean the native american. Constant remarks such as that are very much alive toward native peoples. When I got tired of these such remarks as drunkin indian, savage, being called pochantas, ol indian woman I finally began demeang those whites back "in public", those who steriotyped me finally shut up. I wasn't brought up on a reservation and a full blood Indian. Heh with dog tags.

Mike Flowers's picture
Mike Flowers
Submitted by Mike Flowers on
Want to make a difference in the show. Contact their sponsors. Google "Mike and Molly Sponsors" for a list of companies that pay for the show to air.

Michele Gordon's picture
Michele Gordon
Submitted by Michele Gordon on
This is just deplorable... it's the old "Drunken Indian" stereotype that continues to be believed by many in the dominant culture; despite the fact of being untrue, it is racist and disrespectful to all Native peoples. It has to stop.

Alexx's picture
Alexx
Submitted by Alexx on
This joke was to show the racism of an unlikable character. Not set out to offend a minority but to poke fun at the racism of older white people. Have you never heard of comedians like Sarah Silverman? Its the person saying the things that are the butt of the joke. Its subtext, its context and you are clearly missing it.

GB's picture
GB
Submitted by GB on
I believe the show's producer issued a statement saying, "We apologize for the remark. We didn't realize there were any Indians still alive. We thought they were all killed when we stole their land...:" ;-)

Ogema of  Mahnomen/Minnesota 's picture
Ogema of Mahno...
Submitted by Ogema of Mahno... on
Everyone Native should boycott the network, I know that, that is the only way to make change at there level in the game of life. The same thing happened in Bemidji Minnesota in the 80's and all the srounnding Tribes stop going to Bemidji and they made an official apology to the Native People in Minnesota. "Just words of thought"

Nyna Strange's picture
Nyna Strange
Submitted by Nyna Strange on
It is because of this comment I will no longer be whatching the show. The actress herself could have asked to have the line changed.

j nelson's picture
j nelson
Submitted by j nelson on
So very sorry this happened. What a travesty in a public forum. The Indian nations are pulling themselves to the top in claiming their place in this nation and them something like this happens. Unbelievable. I apologize in behalf of these senseless writers and actors. But they need to write in another act in which this terrible wrong is spoken to and righted. Otherwise they simply appoint themselves to represent the red neck ignorance attitude. Hold your head high and continue your path of being true to yourself and your people.

Indian summer's picture
Indian summer
Submitted by Indian summer on
CBS/MIKE & MOLLY SHOW ARE NOT GOING TO APOLOGIZE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I PERSONALLY received a CALL BACK from CBS, Ms. Tiffany Smith Anoai who stated to me that "...NO APOLOGY WOULD BE COMING FROM CBS or the M/M SHOW!!! Ms. Anoai is "...speaking directly with M/M's writers." I asked if the Native voice is PRESENT & BEING HEARD AT THESE SESSIONS? Her answer-NO... But they do ATTEND ONCE A YEAR a DIVERSITY WORKSHOP! (I bet the writers to M/M were either ASLEEP, Headphones On, or engaged in Selective Hearing). In addition, I HAVE ORGANIZED IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA TODAY (3/11) an 'ALL TRIBES PEACEFUL-ANTI-RACISM PROTEST' at CBS TV station-Channel 5!!! I RECOMMEND ALL NATIVE PEOPLES DO THE SAME IN THEIR HOMETOWN. CBS & the M/M Show are PERPETUATING 500+ YEARS of RACISM, PREJUDICE, BIGOTRY TOWARDS The Original Landowners-Original Inhabitants of Great North America! Anti-American Indian sentiment is HERE & GROWING throughout the USA. It has come to my attention that Our People have been EXPERIENCING HEIGTHEN RACISM from articles submitted this past year on ICTM. Western Society is USING THEIR TOOLS OF RACIST STEREOTYPING & CONTINUE TO ENGAGE in Cultural, Spiritual Misappropriation-Exploitation through Medium Forums to DIMINISH OUR PEOPLE TO INSIGNIFICANCE! It's TIME TO TAKE A STAND!!! No LONGER SHALL WE BE SWEPT UNDER THE RUG, AND DISMISSED FROM an UNDIGNIFIED/INSENSITIVE/UNEDUCATED SEGMENT OF WESTERN SOCIETY. PROTEST/BOYCOTT-CBS & MIKE/MOLLY SHOW NOW!!! FOR OUR ANCESTORS, YOURSELVES & FUTURE GENERATIONS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. In Spirit/Peace

Dolly 's picture
Dolly
Submitted by Dolly on
unfortunately that comment reveals what many must believe, as it made it through the write up and the number of rehersals/takes to finally get into the final. for the cast and the writers and producers and advertisers to turn a blind eye is unthinkable. no more M&M for me.

Gail's picture
Gail
Submitted by Gail on
Prime time television - it needs to be dealt with. CBS needs to deal with this and develop ethics standards for their writers.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
What a bunch of whiny children. It's a quote from a TV show, grow the fuck up and come back when you reach the emotional maturity of an 11 year old, then see if it "blindsinds" you lol

Lourdes Ireland's picture
Lourdes Ireland
Submitted by Lourdes Ireland on
I resent racist "jokes" of any kind & am a 70 year old Irish person. I loved mike & Molly but will not watch it anymore. Neither will my 31 year old daughter or her 35 year old fiancee'!

Rezan's picture
Rezan
Submitted by Rezan on
The settler white Americans dare not talk such things. Have they forgotten their history? According to David Stannard's well researched book "The American Holocaust" a good 15-16 million native Americans were removed from their land of birth and sent into oblivion by the most treacherous evil methods apart from massacres at every step. Remember it was guns against bow and arrows. These brave native Americans did not go to Europe to attack these aggressors and occupiers but were merely living peacefully in their own land. Talking about alcoohol this was one of the weapons too. The white European settlers broke every treaty by getting these poor people drunk. They introduced alcohol which the native american described as 'fire water' and got himself addicted. Just like they introduced opium in China and occupied the country during the 19th century until they were kicked out after the' boxer rebellion' the English used the same method here too. So people who comment on 'drunken Indians' should take the responsibility of guilt for shattering and destroying an entire community of people just like the British did with the aborigines of Australia. Today they all call themselves proud Australians,proud Americans etc. If only they looked back at their history they would cow down in shame.

phyllis franco's picture
phyllis franco
Submitted by phyllis franco on
I think this show is prejudiced against Italians also I find it repulsive that they have people using the words guinea or wop on the show What other ethnic group would they dare to use discripinating slurs against. I have notified all my friends and the Italian-American assoc of this I will no longer watch this show Its a disgrace
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