Thoughts for Thursday - Bury the plot at Wounded Knee

Apparently, there is some controversy over the upcoming HBO film production of "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." (How fortunate for HBO's publicity department.)

According to a rather high-handed NY Times article, the film's producers took license by adding a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman.

The truly not-fortunate reasoning being, according to the writer who adapted the book for HBO Films, "everyone felt very strongly that we needed a white character or a part-white, part-Indian character to carry a contemporary white audience through this project."

Ouch. And, I might add, WTF?

I might as well mention now that when I'm not being the Literate Kitten, I am busy channeling my Pop-Tart Culture alternate personality. To that end, I fork over inordinately large percentages of my salary to Comcast Cable so I can devour such uplifting media fare as Project Runway, Ghost Hunters and Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter. (In my defense, I do watch PBS and The Learning Channel more often than I do the Food Porn network.)

Seeing as how I have made a huge investment in HBO and the fact that the Bury My Heart production features Aidan Quinn, I owe it to my Evil Remote-Hopping Twin to tune in.

In homage to my Literate Kittenish self, however, I intend to read the book first. (I think because this book was released when I was a freshman, it didn't make my High School Required Reading list. So, no, I have not yet read it.)

I cannot imagine how the film can remain true to the plot, when an extra character has been thrown willy-nilly into the mix. Oh, and when that extra character is described as a much-needed protagonist. (Why didn't they call it Dances with Prairie Dogs and be done with it?)

The movie premiers May 27. I will duly report on Book versus Film, Kitten versus Pop-Tart.


Brandon said...

A part of me--the liberal part--wants to decry HBO's decision to add a white character (for the sake of appearances, it seems), but another part of me understands their decision. We've come a long way as far as race relations and diversity, but in books and movies, the leads are overwhelmingly white. Sure, we've got guys like Denzel Washington and characters like Alex Cross, but they seem to be exceptions. A quick look through my bookshelf reveals that most--maybe all--star white characters. Or maybe I simply imagine them as being white.

All this makes me wonder if, culturally, we're really ready to accept a cast without whites. If I'd seen the movie without reading your blog post, without knowing that Aidan Quinn is essentially "the token white guy," I would've just taken it for granted.

Imani said...

And I, on the other hand, don't understand what stops people, "culturally", from being able to watch a film without a white person. Seriously. What's so threatening and "foreign" about that unless one is...I don't know, Appalachian or something. The fact that so many films and books feature all-white casts makes this decision more reprehensible. (If they want to adapt a more "culturally"-friendly book why didn't they find it, insteading of taking this one about Native Americans and ruining it?)

Courtney said...

that is the most ridiculous reasoning I have ever heard. And appalling. No wonder we still have the president we do, with all the yahoos running around this country. Looking forward to your report, though!

Tai said...

I eagerly await your evil twin's report on this absurd matter. My own evil, HBO-lovin' twin will be watching, too.

The Wandering Author said...

I happen to be white. I also happen to have no problem watching movies with casts of any race. I would have hoped society had moved beyond such idiocy, but I'm not surprised. Saddened, not surprised. The book, by the way, is gut-wrenching. I doubt HBO will have the courage to show the atrocities the US Army committed on women and children.

verbivore said...

Drat on Cheeseland for not granting me access to HBO - will look for your report. I don't understand their decision or their reasoning. What a sad testament to exactly how little distance we've made in race relations in the US.
On another note - I love that you used the phrase Food Porn. Did you read the New Yorker article on just that very idea? If not I'll send it your way - big laughs!

Nonanon said...

Hm, no cable here so I'll have to wait for your HBO report as well. The book is fantastic, though; I picked it up with no interest in the subject whatsoever and was immediately sucked in. Do report on the book too, I'd be curious to hear what you thought!