Johnny Depp is playing the character of “Tonto” in the movie re-make of The Lone Ranger. Critics of the original series have observed that Tonto, the American Indian sidekick of the White hero, was a negative racial stereotype, reports Socilogical Images.
“He was subservient to the Ranger, spoke poor English, and seemed generally dumb (his name translates into “stupid” in Spanish). Depp has insisted that he wants to play a different kind of Tonto and reinvent the characters’ relationship.
“So far so bad, as least according to recently released publicity photos revealing Depp’s costume and make up (coverage suggests that Depp himself is designing the character’s appearance). Thanks to YetAnotherGirl and Dolores R. for sending in the tip.
“Depp’s look was inspired by the art of a man named Kirby Sattler. That’s Depp on the left; Sattler’s painting is on the right.
“Sattler is famous for painting images of Native Americans, but has been criticized for stereotypical representations. “Indian art” is a contentious issue: many non-Indian artists have made careers painting the “noble savage” and the “young girl with wolf.” According to Native Appropriations, Sattler “…relies heavily on stereotypes of Native people as mystical-connected-to-nature-ancient-spiritual-creatures, with little regard for any type of historical accuracy.” Continue reading “The new/old Tonto”