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Comanches, Kids, and Kuzco

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  • Rob
    Indian Comics Irregular #166 In January, CBS broadcast Comanche Moon, Larry McMurtry s prequel to his hit Lonesome Dove. Spread over three nights, the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2008
      Indian Comics Irregular #166

      In January, CBS broadcast "Comanche Moon," Larry McMurtry's prequel to his hit "Lonesome Dove." Spread over three nights, the mini-series was one of the worst hatchet jobs on Indians in recent memory. It wasn't much better than a 1950s Western with whooping wild men.

      In part one, we meet the major Indian characters. As I wrote in my review:

      There's Blue Duck the attempted assassin. Kicking Wolf and Three Birds the horse thieves. Ahumado the torturer. An unnamed Comanche rapist. And Buffalo Hump, the genocidal revenge seeker.

      Other than speaking Comanche, these Indians show no evidence of culture. They have no religion, no beliefs, no ceremonies. They live to steal horses, capture women, and kill white men.

      In part two, Blue Duck (Adam Beach) rapes a white woman in the middle of the street. Apparently, his lusts are so bestial that he can't control himself. In part three, Buffalo Hump (Wes Studi) and his brother-in-law Idahi decide to end their lives. Blue Duck bludgeons a bear, then tracks down and murders Buffalo Hump, his father.

      As I concluded:

      So what are we left with? Indians kill each other or go off to die. Either way, their actions are barbaric and savage--nothing civilized men would do.

      It doesn't even matter because they're doomed to die. Like dinosaurs, cavemen, and other primitive creatures, their time is done.

      "Kid Nation" Meets Indians

      In December, the reality show "Kid Nation" ("40 Kids. 40 Days. No Adults") had an episode featuring Indians. In the first half, the town's leaders meet Pueblo Indians incongruously camped nearby in teepees. In the second half, the remaining youngsters reenact the Homestead Act by building shacks on plots of land.

      Here's what the kids (and the viewers) learned about Indians from the show:

      Indians lived here "centuries ago" but are now (almost) gone. You'll find them only out in the wilderness somewhere if you search long enough. Led by a chief, they live in teepees and do colorful dances. They impart sage advice around flickering fires.

      Since the Indians have vanished, the land is empty. It's okay to claim this vacant country as your own--to move in and raise towns on it. Using God's gifts to help yourself is your manifest destiny.

      The Emperor's New Sacrilege

      Since January 2006, ABC has aired a Saturday morning cartoon called "The Emperor's New School." It's a spinoff of "The Emperor's New Groove," the animated Disney movie (ICI #48). In it, the sarcastic, self-satisfied Emperor Kuzco must stay in school or he'll lose his throne.

      At first I thought the cartoons might be as entertaining as the old Looney Tunes. Then I realized they're treating Indians as if they lived in a magical fantasy land devoid of history or culture. In this series, Indians are about as real as fairies, elves, or mermaids.

      Worse, in one episode Kuzco mocks the Inca god Viracocha. As I noted:

      Could there be a better example of how "The Emperor's New School" disdains Indian culture? A supreme deity is treated like a joke. To the show's creators, he's no different from Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. He's infinitely less important, not more important, than a human emperor who should be groveling at his feet.

      For the full story on these shows, visit http://www.bluecorncomics.com/natv.htm .

      Rob Schmidt
      Blue Corn Comics
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