As Hollywood unveils its much-hyped remake of The Lone Ranger, controversy surrounds Johnny Depp's portrayal of Tonto, the title character's Native American sidekick.
A-lister Depp says he is of Cherokee heritage and that he consulted with native leaders about the role. In 2012, LaDonna Harris of the Comanche Nation adopted the American actor into the tribe as an honorary member. Still, some are calling his performance yet another insensitive, stereotypical portrayal of an indigenous person.
Despite some valiant efforts by The Lone Ranger's producers to modernize the tale, "in the characterization of Tonto they've taken a rather dramatic step backwards in terms of representation of First Nations peoples onscreen," says film and pop culture commentator Jesse Wente, who is also a member of the Ojibwa Nation.
"Movies where we have 'redface' going on are essentially inappropriate in this day and age. We've come to that conclusion with so many other cultures and races and yet there's an issue in terms of getting over that mountain with First Nations people."
In the video, Wente talks to CBC's Jelena Adzic about why The Lone Ranger's revamped Tonto remains inappropriate. The Lone Ranger is released in theatres on Wednesday.