Expand your native films and produce more native content
This petition had 265 supporters
To Executives and Board of Directors of Netflix:
Reed Hastings, CEO/Founder; Kelly Bennett, Chief Marketing Manager; Tawni Cranz, Chief Talent Officer; Jonathan Friedland, Chief Communication’s Officer; Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer; David Hyman, General Council; Greg Peters, Chief Streaming and Partnerships Officer; Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer; David Wells, Chief Financial Officer; Richard Barton, Director; A. George Battle ,Director; Timothy Haley, Director; Jay Hoag, Director; Leslie Kilgor, Director; Ann Mathor, Director; Brad Smith Director; and Anne Sweeney.
On April 22nd, 2015, during the production of Adam Sandler’s “The Ridiculous Six” several Native American actors including Allison Young, Loren Anthony, Goldie Tom, Bruce Klinekole, Hatuk Hill, David Hill, Tushka Hill, and others walked off the film set. Specifically, these actors took issue with the representation of Native American women in the film. The script includes several “jokes” surrounding the naming of Apache woman, calling these women “Beaver Breath,” “No Bra,” and “Sits-On-Face,” as well as images of a woman urinating while smoking a peace pipe. These jokes are in no way satirical or humorous, and achieve only to dehumanize Native American women, and demean the sacred ceremonies of Native American people.
Native American woman statistically endure a higher percentage of physical assault, sexual assault, and stalking compared to their non-native sisters. In a 2008 CDC study, 39% of Native women surveyed identified as victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetime, a rate higher than any other race or ethnicity surveyed. 70% of those assailants were non-native. One in three Native American women are raped in their lifetime, compared to the national average of one in five. 17% of all Native American women are the victims of stalkers, and in Canada, where you also have millions of viewers, there are over 1200 missing and murdered Native American women. Until only very recently, Native American women living on tribal lands were not legally able to press charges against their assailants. On March 7, 2015, Native American women living on reservations were finally granted the fundamental right to protect themselves by pressing charges against their non-native assailants. Native American women in Alaska still do not have this power to protect themselves against the violence described here.
Depictions such as those found in “The Ridiculous Six” support the fallacy that Native Americans and Native American women are less than human. Racial stereotyping leads to racial discrimination. Racial discrimination leads to racially charged violence. The overly sexualized depiction of Native American woman, as seen with “Beaver Breath”, “Sits-On-Face” and the phrase “We go someplace and I put my peepee in your teepee” supports the notion that Native American woman are animalistic, inhuman, and promiscuous. The combination of racial stereotyping and the hyper sexualized depiction of Native American women can only create an ideology that leads to the increased violence against this population. These impacts cannot be hidden behind the guise of levity. The jokes in “The Ridiculous Six” are harmful, dangerous, and nowhere near satirical.
To combat the negative stereotyping of Native Americans, we are demanding that you support Native American filmmakers, actors, producers, directors, and films in general. To do so, we ask that you expand your native film selections. As a distribution company, you are constantly seeking to expand your catalog so as to better your customer experience. Native Americans are also a part of your customer base, as evident in the social media campaigns #WalkOffNetflix and #VivaNativeCinema. By expanding your catalog with Native films, you will present an accurate representation of Native Americans and Native American women, thus reducing racial stereotyping to your 30 million subscription base. We would like to suggest some titles that would be an asset to your DVD and streaming catalog: Lee Tamahori’s Once We Were Warriors, Bruce McDonald’s Dance Me Outside, Anne Makepeace’s We Still Live Here, Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River (on stream, already available on DVD), Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (on stream, already available on DVD), Peter Stebbing’s Empire of Dirt, Georgina Lightning’s Older Than America, the Aboriginal t.v. series Mohawk Girls, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s On The Ice, Rick Derby’s Rocks With Wings, Steve Barron’s DreamKeeper, Shonie and Andee De La Rosa’s Mile Post 398, Niki Caro’s Whale Rider (on stream, already available on DVD), and Sara McIntyre’s Two Indians Talking. These suggestions serve as only a beginning, as this list is in no way inclusive or final. Native American filmmakers are continuing to create and produce films as we write this petition, and this demographic will only continue to grow.
As a production company, we know that you are constantly looking for new and exciting projects. We would also like to suggest that you consider producing Native American content. You have the capacity to develop, produce, finance, and distribute a feature length film or web series written, directed, and acted by Native Americans. We alone know how to portray ourselves satirically and accurately. Native Americans are consumers as well. We are a part of your market and we desire meaningful content. We encourage you to create positive change out of a negative situation. Set up a script competition so that Native American screenwriters can send in their scripts for your consideration. Hire a Native American Filmmaker. Hire Native American actors. Finance the film or series through pre-production, production, post-production, and marketing. Distribute the completed product through your streaming services.
You have a unique opportunity here. You can perpetuate negative stereotypes with Adam Sandler’s “The Ridiculous Six,” or you can pave ground for the growing Native American film market. We implore you to be bold as you have with your previous productions of “House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Bojack,” and many others. You can be leaders in America by producing Native American content. In doing so you will combat the negative stereotyping we have seen since the inception of film, and you can aid in changing the statistics when it comes to violence against Native American women.
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