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The Death-Dealing Maya

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  • Rob
    Indian Comics Irregular #149 How stereotypical is Mel Gibson s Apocalypto ? Very, according to film and cultural critics: The creepy, dead-eyed king looks
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 29 11:43 PM
      Indian Comics Irregular #149

      How stereotypical is Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto"? Very, according to
      film and cultural critics:

      The creepy, dead-eyed king looks into the eyes of every gibbering
      victim. The fat wives and fatter children laugh. The cackling high
      priests are stoned on the delirious gore. The baying crowd scream for
      more. (Brian Orndorf, 12/6/06)

      There is the mandatory evil witch doctor and the obese prince. There
      is even a scene when the screaming populace is overcome with fear when
      the moon eclipses the sun--as if the world's greatest mathematicians
      and astronomers were ignorant of such a predictable event. (Doug
      George-Kanentiio, 12/19/06)

      Gibson's portrayal of a fervent and orgiastic mob completely violates
      what we know about Maya propriety in ritual behavior. Many modern
      Maya rituals, such as processions or prayers, are deliberate and
      serious affairs.

      The treatment of sacrifice is also inaccurate and misleading. Much of
      what we see recorded by the Maya is a form of sacrifice known as
      auto-sacrifice--self-inflicted bloodletting involving piercing ear
      lobes, fingers, tongues and penises. (Marcello A. Canuto, 12/15/06)

      [D]espite Gibson's vile portrayal of the Maya as a macabre cult of
      deranged killers straight out of "Apocalypse Now," there is no
      evidence that the Mayan people ever practiced widespread human
      sacrifice, and they certainly didn't target the innocent
      hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists Gibson chooses to portray as
      the victims of a Mayan death cult.

      Gibson knows better. He studied the terrain in depth and had no
      practical limit to the funds he could expend on research. His
      portrayal is a conscious lie, one he uses to justify the premise that
      the Mayan city states collapsed because they deserved to collapse, and
      that they deserved to be replaced by a "superior" culture in the
      genocide known as the Conquest. (Juan Santos, 12/8/06)

      The message? The end is near and the savior has come. Gibson's
      efforts at authenticity of location and language might, for some
      viewers, mask his blatantly colonial message that the Maya needed
      saving because they were rotten at the core. Using the decline of
      Classic urbanism as his backdrop, Gibson communicates that there was
      absolutely nothing redeemable about Maya culture, especially elite
      culture which is depicted as a disgusting feast of blood and excess.

      But in "Apocalypto," no mention is made of the achievements in science
      and art, the profound spirituality and connection to agricultural
      cycles, or the engineering feats of Maya cities. Instead, Gibson
      replays, in glorious big-budget technicolor, an offensive and racist
      notion that Maya people were brutal to one another long before the
      arrival of Europeans and thus they deserve, in fact they needed,
      rescue. This same idea was used for 500 years to justify the
      subjugation of Maya people and it has been thoroughly deconstructed
      and rejected by Maya intellectuals and community leaders throughout
      the Maya area today. (Traci Ardren, 12/5/06)

      After you watch this film you may be wrongfully convinced that it was
      the Mayan who stole land from your ancestors; you may begin to think
      that it was the Mayan who burned the villages of your ancestors; you
      may begin to believe that it was the Mayan who tied up Indian men and
      raped their wives while they watched powerlessly; you may be convinced
      that the Mayan were the culprits who brought smallpox to decimate the
      indigenous American populations; you will probably be convinced that
      Indians taught Europeans racism and racial slavery; you will be lied
      to while watching this movie, and you will mistakenly be thankful that
      Europeans came and saved your ancestors from their own demise. (Leo
      Killsback, 12/27/06)

      You can read all the criticism of Apocalypto at
      http://www.bluecorncomics.com/apclypto.htm .

      Rob Schmidt
      Blue Corn Comics
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