Last week I read a series of tweets from a woman who had harsh words for a First Nations publication for offering a positive review of the movie, Wind River. I will not name this woman because I’m not here to bring any more attention than she deserves – her Twitter account is also protected, so nobody reading this can read her tweets. In a series of tweets she expressed anger over the depiction of rape in the movie – a young First Nations woman gets raped, and it is an upsetting scene. This woman attacked the publication with much fury, and questioned if the reviewer watched a shortened version of the trailer. Here’s the irony in her rant, she admitted that she didn’t even watch the movie.
Here is where I stepped in. I read her words, and can fully understand if she stated that she will not watch a movie that involves rape. It’s clear that was enough for her to skip the movie, but she put a publication on blast for writing a glowing review of a movie. She didn’t stop there, she encouraged her followers to boycott the publication as well as Wind River. Is it wrong for a website to recognize a good movie? Art is subjective, and a stamp of approval does not mean we condone the actions in the film. Dr. Strangelove is among my favorite films of all time, does that mean I support nuclear war? No. Here is my original response, “The last line makes your entire thread invalid. Watch the movie, then let’s talk. I’m a FN man, much respect in the film.” We offered a positive review of the film in podcast form here
Whether we want to admit it, violence against First Nations women is a problem that plagues Native Reservations across Canada and the US. Wind River carries a stern message, a wake-up call for non-Natives who are unaware of these harsh conditions. This woman and her friends are also upset that Taylor Sheridan is a white filmmaker, telling a First Nations story. On the surface I can see this being an alarm to First Nations people, but I watched the movie and can say with confidence that Sheridan is an ally to First Nations and totally gets it. Sheridan portrays the young girl as a hero in the movie. She illustrated more strength than I could ever hope for. Wind River marks Sheridan’s directorial debut – in many interviews, Sheridan speaks about how much this story meant to him, he did not trust the script with any other filmmaker. This is a terrific piece that shows Sheridan talking about Wind River, and how he wanted to portray the reality of our world, rather than perception – He’s holding a mirror up to the audience.
This woman’s family and followers took turns sending me insults and threats. I was accused of being an Uncle Tom, and was called a red apple many times by First Nations people. A “red apple” is the harshest insult a First Nations person can hurl at a fellow First Nations person, “Red on the outside, white on the inside.” All the while I responded with respect, and no foul language. Her very first response to me was, “Fuck you.” I was accused of being paid by the studio to write a positive review of the film. One person sent me an animated gif of a First Nations man firing an arrow that connects with the throat of a white man – is this a threat? One even told me, “You’re an apple, and we all know an apple gets cored.” Again, is this a threat? One person even accused me of pleasuring myself to the rape scene in the movie. Where did these people come up with this stuff?
She took it too far when she implied I didn’t know any rape survivors. My father speaks candidly about his experience as a Residential School survivor – he was beaten and raped by priests and brothers who were trusted to educate First Nations children. Residential Schools were a form of attempted genocide by the Crown and Church – thankfully, we survived. When I told her I recommended this movie to my parents, she told me that is an act of violence. I asked her if taking my parents to Dunkirk was an act of violence, to which she replied that it’s not an act of violence because there wasn’t any rape in Dunkirk. When I offered to ask my father for his opinion of the film, she said his opinion does not count because he’s a man. She also took it too far when she attacked a good friend of mine for conversing with me on Twitter. This woman and her friends and family also attacked a First Nations woman who told her that she liked the movie and will recommend it to others. They accused her of “not being Native enough.” All of this trouble because we enjoyed a movie they have not seen.
These people are rageaholics who need to find a better way to channel their anger. I was put on blast for enjoying a well-crafted piece of art. Wind River is a vital film, tells a story that needs to be told. Wind River is SUPPOSED to anger the audience. Sheridan is telling the audience that we need to take care of our own people who are in our own backyard. Sure, let’s also have a discussion about the lack of First Nations’ voices in Hollywood (They don’t exist), but Sheridan is not the enemy here. Boycott the movie all you want, but there is something incredibly disgusting about attacking fellow First Nations people for enjoying this film. You lose all credibility when you stoop to name-calling, and foul language. Your message is diluted to the point where it does not matter at all, you’re simply shouting into the abyss.