A few Native American actors are now speaking out in defense of Adam Sandler’s Netflix comedy Ridiculous 6 after a dozen extras walked off the Western’s New Mexico set over what they viewed as culturally offensive humor. Of the hundreds of Native American extras hired for the film, only about a dozen left the production because they were offended by characters’ names – “Wears No Bra” and “Beaver Breath” – and felt the film perpetuated negative stereotypes.
However, the majority of the Native American extras remained on set, including actor Bonifacio Gurule, who told KOAT 7 in Albuquerque that those who exited the film should “lighten up.” “It’s a comedy, not a documentary,” Gurule said. Another extra named Carma Harvey said many cultures, not just Native Americans’, were being skewered in the Western.
KOAT also obtained cellphone footage of the verbal confrontation between extras and an unspecified member of the Ridiculous 6 crew that led to some actors leaving Ridiculous 6 set. In the video, the extras ask a producer to change the character’s name of “Beaver Breath.” “No. If you’re overly sensitive about it, then you should probably leave,” the producer said. As Navajo actress Allie Young previously told MSNBC, the first person to exit the Ridiculous 6 shoot over the offensive material was the film’s cultural consultant.
While Sandler has not commented publicly on the incident, following the extras walkout, the actor reportedly addressed the cast and crew and said he was extremely sorry if the film offended anyone. A producer also promised the cast that some sort of disclaimer at the end of the movie would reiterate that Ridiculous 6 is not an accurate portrayal of Native American culture.
Following the uproar, the New Mexico Film Office was asked whether they would rescind the rebates given to the film for shooting in the Land of Enchantment. “It is a First Amendment issue. The film office has no control over a film’s content,” the New Mexico Film Office said in a statement. “As long as the production meets the requirements in the film credit statute, there is nothing prohibiting them from filming in New Mexico and receiving the rebate.”
In a statement, Netflix also defended the film. “The movie has ‘ridiculous’ in the title for a reason –because it is ridiculous,” a spokesperson for the company said. “It is a broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized, featuring a diverse cast that is not only part of – but in on – the joke.”