Here are my two questions for the week. Hopefully they aren't too long.
Even though "Drums Along the Mohawk" has sound in contrast to silent films, I noticed that Indians in the film didn't have much of a voice, and the voice that they had belonged to Blue Back, who seemed illiterate if not entirely unintelligent.
Jacquelyn Kilpatrick seems to acknowledge that sound hasn't really made a difference in the portrayal of Indians when she writes, "But it was not much better when directors and script writers gave their Indians voices in the early westerns...For instance...White man speaks with forked tongue (Kilpatrick 37)."
Further, Kilpatrick also notes that the use of illiterate, stoic, violent language etcetera, by Indians in films with sound, perpetuates negative stereotypes of Indians, stereotypes that have already been seen in silent films (Kilpatrick 37).
This being said, it is obvious that the power to perpetuate stereotypes in films, or on the other hand discontinue them, regardless of being silent or not, lies in the hands of film directors and scriptwriters. Analyze the Kilpatrick reading and the notes you have taken on "Drums along the Mohawk," keeping in mind as to whether or not you believe sound in films matter at all when it comes to portraying stereotypes.
If films of the past were directed by individuals that cared about depicting Indians in a true and authentic nature, perhaps Indians themselves, could their possibly be less negative stereotypes of Indians today, or possibly none at all? What are the negatives and positives of silent films and films with sound, or does it solely depend on film directors and scriptwriters?
I noticed that women are somewhat portrayed as inferior in "Drums along the Mohawk." This is seen when the main character in the film slaps his wife and also when Blue Back basically tells the man he has a fine lady but that she would be better if he used a stick to beat her.
Kilpatrick somewhat reiterates this idea when she writes "The general assumption of filmmakers for the first three-quarters of a century of filmmaking has been that the male has the dominant role in a male-female relationship... (Kilpatrick 64).
It seems to me though that the hitting of a women on the white mans part was more or less acceptable, due to the fact that the woman said and did nothing about it, and the husbands justification of it by saying she was out of control so he "had" to do it, basically portraying that it would be okay. Further, it seems that the film would intend to make Indians appear bad if they had done the same thing, such as in Blue Back's suggestion that the husbands' wife would be better if the husband used a stick on her once in a while.
Reflect on these statements and the section in Kilpatrick's reading titled "Miscegenation and Hollywood," keeping in mind whether or not it seems as if the film makes it appear okay for white men to mistreat women at times, but that Indians would be bad for doing it. Does this simply reflect the beliefs of western film directors, or does it reflect the beliefs of the entire culture of that time? Does it have anything to do with race?
Paul Wenell, Jr.