This week we delve into the episode we are perhaps least equipped to talk about, both because of some poor portayals of indigenous people and also because we literally do not fucking understand what the hell is going on in a good 50% of the episode!
Buckle up cause it gets rocky. Errr… Kat. And Tommy.
If you have a moment, a friend of ours who unfortunately wasn’t able to join us for the recording has some more qualified, salient, and funny thoughts than us below:
My name's William and I'm an enrolled Citizen of the Cherokee Nation. I'm not a cultural consultant or scholar or expert or anything, just an indigenous dude who works in TV and has seen a lot of dumb Indian bullshit.
I set up a stopwatch to time how far into the episode I'd have to wait for the hawk effect that always plays when indigenous characters are introduced in TV shows. My over/under was two minutes, but it was FOUR AND A HALF SECONDS.
You've got a real hodgepodge of "stereotypical Indian shit," here. Tipis of plains tribes (as done on a , full-leather outfits of colder-clime woodland tribes. And this is all SoCal, yeah? So none of it is right, at all. And dang, "Native understands English, but can't speak at all, and STILL manages to send someone on a spirit quest" is... Bad Indigenous Storytelling Bingo. Normally, those boxes would take a little to get checked. Banging out that many at once is almost impressive.
Magical Indian Guide within five minutes. Efficiency is the name of the racist garbage game, here.
Re: native prophecy predicting the arrival of a Power Ranger - It's pretty progressive to show that the Indians have access to Crayola sidewalk chalk, I'll give 'em that.
This is definitely the most I've heard that goddamn hawk sound effect in anything, ever. It's like three or four times per Tommy scene.
It's kind of amazing how removed from anything native this "quest" is. All he has to do is... Believe in himself? Magically? Take out the panflutes and the hawk noises and you could replace "True at Heart" with like, Tony Robbins. The bit with the scrolls at the end was especially galling, for some dumb reason.
One thing that's funny, and absolutely completely an accident, is that they managed to cast an indigenous dude from the actual region they're portraying (if they are, indeed, set it southern California). Frank Salsedo was actually indigenous, and actually from southern California. He DID spend his whole career playing bad Indians stereotypes in schlock, doing the whole "slow-talking, no-contractions mystic" thing, but... Everybody's gotta make a living? I guess? Anyway, thought that was a fun trivia fact.