Johnny Depp's Native American-speak in 'The Lone Ranger' trailer is pretty awkward

Johnny Depp’s Native American-speak in ‘The Lone Ranger’ trailer is pretty awkward

Dec 11, 2012


So the first trailer for “The Lone Ranger” is out today with Johnny Depp as Tonto in the Native American equivalent of blackface—warpaintface—and speaking in the chopped grammar that signifies “injun” in cartoons.

If you want to make someone sound Native American, you apparently just mess up some case agreements and use very few articles, like when Johnny Depp says, “There come a time when good man must wear mask.”

Look, I’m not going to come out and call the “Lone Ranger” trailer racist, but when Mickey Rooney played the Asian-American neighbor in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” always yelling at Horry Gorrrrightry you know what people called it? They called it racist. At the very least it’s super awkward.

Maybe we’re supposed to supposed to live in a new post-racial time when we don’t have to be so uptight about our differences. Which sounds great. No one cared when Fred Armisen wore a little makeup and a kinky wig to do Obama on SNL. It was kind of refreshing that it wasn’t a big deal, like a new cultural fluidity was part of what we earned in the bargain of being willing to elect a non-caucasian president. Obama’s blackness wasn’t the butt of Armisen’s joke, which made it ok.

But things are a little murkier in “The Lone Ranger” trailer. I don’t know, maybe warpaintface still feels more uncomfortable because Native Americans still live on reservations. The film actually shot at least partly on a Navajo reservation and seems to have a favorable relationship with the tribe. Still, the trailer seems a little awkward—watch below and let us know what you think.

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