Bloggers Warning — This article commits the sin of noticing. If you are offended by the sin of noticing you will not want to read this post.
Increasingly we are told that “cultural appropriation” is, at the very least, in bad taste and at the very worst exploitative. White people wearing cornrows, white people twerking, white people wearing black face are all considered in bad form. Team names like the “Cleveland Indians” or the “Washington Redskins” outrage some people and brings the accusation of cultural appropriation. Recently, “Victoria’s Secret” sent model Karlie Kloss down a runway in a fringed suede bikini, turquoise jewelry, and a feathered headdress—essentially a “sexy Indian” costume—many called out the underwear company for insensitivity to Native Americans.
Now, while I personally would not be disappointed if nobody did cornrows, twerked, or went around in blackface (this not being in keeping with my fashion tastes) it is considered a sin on the part of white people to culturally appropriate in this fashion. Just up the road from me in Lansing, Michigan students recently protested because of the cultural appropriations of the Native-Indian dress on the Michigan State campus.
However, moving in the opposite direction does not seem to be a problem. Increasingly minorities are culturally appropriating Western Culture and I read only a few people pointing out the inconsistencies. In 2014 we had a remake of “Little Orphan Annie” that found the role of Daddy Warbucks and Annie being played by Minorities. The 2017 release of a new King Arthur film finds the presence of Minorities sprinkled throughout the Ancient Arthurian Kingdom, including the mentor of the future King Arthur and the noble leader of the resistance to wicked King Uther. A third example of this cultural appropriation moving in the opposite direction was the remake of the Magnificent Seven.
In this remake, the hero role is played by Denzel Washington who is given the name “Sam Chisolm.” Of course, the name “Chisum” was a minor American Western white cowboy hero of the 19th century. “Chisum” was also the name of a 1970’s film with the title role of “Chisum” being played by John Wayne. Denzel Washington would be culturally appropriating both an American Western legend and a film legend known for his Westerns if it were possible for cultural appropriation to move in a direction contrary to whites culturally borrowing from minorities. Denzel Washington is the new John Wayne.
So, in the new “Magnificent Seven” we have white sheeple townsfolk looking to a black law officer for redress of grievances against a White evil Robber Baron. How often do you think that this would have occurred in the 19th century Western America? Keep in mind here that in the original “Magnificent Seven” it was a community of Mexican sheeple who were appealing to the Magnificent Seven for help against bad guy Mexican Bandoleros. We have gone from the incarnation of evil being a Mexican Bandolero to a white Robber Barron and we have gone from a community of Mexican peasants being sheeples to the American farmer and merchant Christian white people playing the sheeple. We need to throw in here that the cowardly white sheeple are led by one brave soul out for justice but settling for revenge. This brave white soul is a woman homesteader whose husband was killed by the bad guys as the film opens. This character (Emma Cullen) played by amply endowed Haley Bennet who’s breasts and cleavage is credited with a co-star billing.
Just a brief word on our white Robber Barron villain. I do believe that the modern Corporatist is a major villain in our culture but the Left’s narrative tends to cast anybody who makes money as being an evil capitalist. That holds true for this film.
In this latest version of the Magnificent Seven, we have four minority members. We have already mentioned Denzel Washington’s lead role as Sam Chilsom. Likewise, we have an outcast American Indian (Red Harvest), a knife-wielding Oriental (Billy Rocks), and an outlaw Mexican (Vasquez). Of the three white Magnificent Seven, we have the coward Southerner, (Goodnight Robicheaux) the slightly nutty and Scripture-spouting Mountain man (Jack Horn) and cheating gambler (Joshua Faraday).
Of the four Magnificent Seven who are killed as heroes in the end in the battle against the bad guys (who are all white except one Indian) only one is a minority (the Oriental knife wielder). The rest are all the White guys. The coward is cast as the lone Southerner. In the end, the White Southerner redeems himself but he still plays the coward.
In the end, all the bad guys are white people except for one Indian played by Jonathan Joss as Denali, an exiled Comanche warrior. However, we are relieved by the film-makers decision to have the good guy Indian (Red-Harvest) be the one who kills the bad guy Indian after the bad guy Indian kills the God-talk spouting Mountain Man. Can you imagine the outrage if a white Magnificent Seven good guy had killed the bad guy Indian? And what a coincidence that the particularly Christian good guy Mountain man who the film reveals was no friend of Indians in his life is killed by the heathen Indian.
The film repeatedly slights the white man beyond what I have already noted. When the good guy Indian (Martin Sensmeier) shows on the scene all the white Magnificent Seven are pensive and apprehensive but the minority leader of the Magnificent Seven reaches out and makes friends and asks the Indian to join their hero-posse. The character played by Chris Pratt (Joshua Faraday) mocks the Mexican for being Mexican. The film reveals that the character played by Lee Byung-hun (Billy Rocks) has been mistreated by white men. Ethan Hawke’s character (Goodnight Robicheaux) informs the viewer that a bar “didn’t want to serve Billy’s kind.” Billy, the diminutive Oriental cowboy, is taunted to fight by a white cowpoke with “come on you scum sucking runt of a man.” Billy himself tells us that his friendship with the Southerner Goodnight Robicheaux is one where “Goodnight helps me navigate the white man’s privileges.”
As the film progresses this multicultural crew is able to set aside their natural cultural, ethnic, and racial animosities and congeal together to be a force who is stronger than a thousand white hired gun bad guys.
There is also a subtle subtheme in this film regarding Christianity. When the film opens the sheeple townsfolks are meeting in a Church to discuss the problem of the Robber Barron Bogue who wants to cheat them of their land. Robber Barron Bogue shows up and in this opening scene, the Church is burned with a shell of it remaining. That shell of a church provides an inclusio for the end of the film where the lone female kills the bad guy (Bogue) under the cross as he is being forced to pray for forgiveness by the Sam Chisolm character. So, as the film opens the Church is the place where the cowardice of the white townspeople is revealed and in the closing, the Church is the place where a white man not interested in asking for forgiveness is being forced to beg for forgiveness for his sins by a minority and finally being killed by a white woman as he is, in an underhanded sneaky fashion, trying to kill the minority who is choking him to death for his past sins against Chisolm’s people. In the opening, the Church fails to provide resistance from white people. In the end, the Church failed to provide any solution for the redemption of the white man’s sins.
All of this worldview malfeasance crammed into a delightful Western. It really is a classic Western on the surface complete with gun fights, quick draw exhibition, the gambler theme, the lone cowboy heroes, and the plucky Western homesteader wife. However, scratching below the surface this is yet another piece of both cultural appropriation and an attack on the heroes and history of the Christian white man.