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Nasty Tonto and the sorry state of race relations in America

July 13, 2013

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KRNG 101.3 FM Reno. Listen live Saturdays at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.]

When did white men become second class citizens? It's a good time to ask this question because the media-labeled "white Hispanic" George Zimmerman spent the last few weeks enduring a legal lynching down in Florida, and because Rasmussen recently announced poll results about who Americans consider racist, and because I just saw the new Lone Ranger movie.

I don't want this to be another movie review... but good golly this was a bad movie! Thoroughly, embarrassingly, insultingly awful. For reasons only the writers could possibly understand, they turned the Lone Ranger into a mentally handicapped gun-control-advocating klutz, turned his beautiful white stallion Silver into a tree-climbing alcoholic joke, and turned Tonto into a manic-depressive racist with a dead bird on his head.

No, none of that is an exaggeration.

I'm hard to insult. Maybe it's my thick skin, maybe it's my thick head. But racist insults directed at white men in this movie—mostly from Tonto—were so rampant and so contrived I was noticeably subdued when it was over. I felt like a Gitmo detainee forced to watch a video of his own water boarding.

If it was just once that Tonto called the Lone Ranger a "stupid white man" that wouldn't be so bad, but the racism was constant and left me wondering why our culture considers this okay. Obviously, if Hollywood made a movie that spent $259 million and 149 minutes insulting some other race, the crap would be in the fan. At the denouement of the movie, when Tonto is summing up the lessons learned from his epic battle with his lifelong enemy (by the way, why wasn't the movie titled Tonto instead of The Lone Ranger since it was basically all about Tonto and the Lone Ranger was an idiot?)... where was I? Oh yeah, Tonto says to the bad guy:
"All these years I think you are wendigo [a Native American demon]. Now I see that you’re just another white man."
In other words, in case that was too subtle, "white man" is synonymous with "demon." He has another little speech later where he tells some Chinese railroad workers how bad white men are, whereupon all the Chinese guys nod their heads in agreement—"Very funny!" as TBS would say—but I forget what he said that time. I was thinking about other stuff by that point. Like how to get my money back for the ticket.

Only Hollywood in all its vanity and hypocrisy could dress up a white guy as a Native American, hang every single stereotype they could remember around his neck, and then send him out in front of a camera to insult white men. It cannot be watched without wincing. Tonto talks about wendigos and spirit walkers, wears a dead bird on his head (at one point he puts a birdcage on his head to protect the dead bird from a cat), stops in the middle of an action scene in a bar to steal and down someone else's drink... you name it, every racial stereotype imaginable.

By the way, historians think the Lone Ranger myth might be based on the real life story of a U.S. Marshal named Bass Reeves, who was black. So not only does Hollywood have white Johnny Depp playing Tonto, they've got white Armie Hammer playing a black man.

(What do you expect from a guy named after the symbol for the Socialist Labor Party of America? Who is better at stealing from black people than communists?)

Face it, Hollywood is obsessed with racism because the place is so full of it.

Back to the main question: why is such mean-spirited racism considered okay when it's directed at white men? There may have been a time when a lot of white people were racists but that time is long gone and Americans outside Hollywood seem to know it. The shoe is on the other foot now. We have a black man in the White House and a black man in charge of enforcing civil rights and both of them are knee-jerk racists who spend much of their time trying to get even for imaginary slights. President Obama has repeatedly inserted himself into incidents based solely on the race of the participants, using the power of his office to sway public opinion toward a presumption of racism by the white people involved, and Eric Holder, his Attorney General, is the tool he uses to ruin white men's lives because of that outdated presumption. Ask James Crowley about that. Ask George Zimmerman about that.

Maybe that's why Hollywood thinks it's okay to make this kind of movie—they're following the president's example.

I said "outdated presumption" because Americans on the whole know better. That Rasmussen poll I mentioned found that Americans as a whole think white people are less racist than black people. While 15% of American adults think that most white people are racist, 37% think that most black people are racist. Even black people themselves agree. 31% of black Americans think most blacks are racist, while only 24% consider most white people racist.

I wish Hollywood would make a movie about that. Maybe they could mention the Knockout Game played by black teenagers and while they're at it point out that racism in America seems to be getting worse instead of better since we put Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"All these years I think you are wendigo. Now I see that you’re just another white man." — Tonto from The Lone Ranger

"I was the only white kid in my neighborhood for most of my youth even in high school, so reverse racism was just as apparent as racism." — Shia LaBeouf


From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

July 30, 2013 - I wholeheartedly agree with your disgust at the "Lone Ranger" mythos being transformed into a "Whiteys Bad, Everyone Else Good" pretend world. I loved the original Lone Ranger t.v. show, with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. I loved how the Lone Ranger had a solid gold character, never did he "kinda sorta" do bad things on the sly (such as waving his weiner at females, like certain politicians). Of course, being a horse crazy girl, I was mostly watching Silver and Scout. They were gorgeous animals! So I am offended on all fronts by this movie. They made Tonto (who was a good human being) into a complete nutter. A nutter who hates white people, yet there he is helping a white man he doesn't think much of. Why? The Lone Ranger...doesn't believe in firing guns. That might have made sense in a big city, but out in the desert... before there were interstates and Motel 6's and rest stations, if you didn't have a working gun then you would shortly be dead. You needed on if only to defend yourself from wolves! Coyotes! Bandits! Indians who hate the white man! RATTLESNAKES, for God's sake! Silver... what evil people conspired to turn a beautiful, noble steed into an alcoholic wack job? The only thing that would have been worse would be if they gave him Mr. Ed's voice. "Oh, Lone Rangerrrrrr!" he'd say, just before tipping the Colt 45 40oz bottle down his throat. But what really upset me, and the prior characterizations were very disappointing but Butch Cavendish... a cannibal? What is the deal with cannibalism these last few years? Butch Cavendish was a bad guy... a thief, a murderer. Oh, but that wasn't bad enough! They had to put a twist in it... he cuts the heart out of his vanquished enemy and eats it. SAY F*ing WHAT?!?! Where the he** did that come from? Why did they think that was necessary? And Mr. GunsRbad is gonna get rid of THAT guy?? My family doesn't get why I didn't like it. I watched the old Lone Ranger on Netflix to wash that junk outta my brain. – Sandy L., Tennessee



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