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Is the Lone Ranger Racist?

Is the Lone Ranger Racist? Use the Player Above to Listen to the Podcast or Use the Links Below to download the MP3


Since it was first announced, Disney’s The Lone Ranger has been a lightning rod for controversy.  Now that the finished film has been released internationally I think it’s time that we take a close look at the racial subtext of this movie.  Since the early nineties, Hollywood has shied away from depicting Native American characters in the nineteenth century.  Johnny Depp’s Tonto marks the first Native American leading character (because Armie Hammer’s John Reid/Lone Ranger certainly isn’t the star of this movie) to featured in a western in what feels like a very long time.  How, then, has Hollywood dealt with the difficult legacy they inherited with this franchise? Is The Lone Ranger a shining example of how to approach this delicate issue or is it marred by stereotyping and racism? Listen to the podcast for a detailed analysis of that issue:


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Remember, this podcast will include some plot spoilers so if you want to see the movie without preconceptions, wait until after you’ve seen the movie before listening to the podcast.  Of course, if you don’t mind having some of the plot explained, then by all means listen to it now.  For more American History and American Studies check the homepage for a range of articles, videos, and podcasts.  Or, check out some of the articles below.


Related Articles:

Cowboys, Indians, Controversy, and Videogames

The Cowboy in the 21st Century

Lone Ranger Trailer Analysis

Star Trek and the Difficult Question of the Frontier


A Few Quick Thoughts

The podcast doesn’t feature a typical review of the movie.  For those who might be interested in my opinion, if you can look past the film’s core philosophical issues it is not an unfun experience.  Some of the actions scenes work well, as does some of the humour, but this film does not really feel like a Lone Ranger movie until about the last twenty minutes.  The last part of the film is essentially one long, intricate action sequence which really stands out.  Sadly, part of the reason that it stands out so much is the dirge-like pace which afflicts the rest of the film.  It is slow and far too long.  Personally, I find the issues I talk about in the podcast too pervasive, too much of a barrier to my enjoyment of what is, at its heart, quite a silly action adventure.  More than anything else, this feels like a huge missed opportunity.  The film makers (and Disney) clearly have a formula in mind for this type of movie – and it has been strictly adhered to.  Sadly, I doubt that Disney are going to take the relative failure (it did make a lot of money, just not enough) of The Lone Ranger as a sign to abandon Pirates-esq big budget action comedy.  I suspect that it will be the western, as a genre, which will be the big loser here.


Is the Lone Ranger Racist?

Is the Lone Ranger Racist?

22 responses to “Is the Lone Ranger Racist?”

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