movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Thu Jun 27 2013, 12:27am | 4 comments
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Does anyone ever see Johnny Depp without a bandanna any more? Has he been checked for brain slugs recently?
Hollywood, last bastion of mealy-mouthed segregation? (“Films for the urban audience.”)
Given that the last attempt at a Lone Ranger movie was a colossal flop, I’m surprised that Hollywood is even attempting this. And given a lot of the stuff that has come out about the Texas Rangers since then, Depp’s brownface would seem to be the least of this film’s problems.
Then again the trailer would have you believe that this is basically little more than a male version of Cat Ballou…
Depp’s brownface would seem to be the least of this film’s problems.
That depends on your perspective. If you’re talking about the film’s chances of success, sure. But if you’re talking about what the film says about our culture, I’d say the brownface is right at the top of the list.
I don’t really care if the film is successful. Indeed, the more I learn about the real-life Texas Rangers, the more I feel guilty that I spent so much time watching The Lone Ranger when I was a kid so I would not be all that disappointed if the current movie version flopped as badly as the 1981 effort.
Then again, people who greenlight projects like The Lone Ranger usually aren’t interested in revisionist history, much less political objections to brownface, and the fact that Walker: Texas Ranger managed to survive for eight full seasons would seem to indicate that there is still a lot of appeal for such a hero as the Lone Ranger.
Given that the last Lone Ranger movie flopped due to the fact so many fans of the original series objected to efforts to “revitalize” the character by making him more violent, it’s going to be interesting to see what the reaction will be to this movie. Granted, many of those fans have since passed on–as have many of the critics who backed them up. Then again we have already seen one film this summer which created a lot of resentment among old-school fans because of the changes made to its main character. Who’s to say we won’t see two?
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