Claire Meurens-Yashar, BA/BS Anthropology
Research in Taino/Arawak Iconography, Myths and Legends
July 17, 2006
Pirates of the Caribbean, a 2006 Walt Disney Picture is, as are all movies, pure entertainment and not reality shows nor documentaries. As an entertainment medium, it has earned a two star rating[out of four] by the Tribune Movie Critic, Michael Phillips, and three star rating by Matt Pais, the Metromix Movies Producer.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, screenplay by Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, this “fun” film has, however, a hideous side. It implies that the Caribbean Natives, the Arawaks, are and were cannibals; a slander they had to endure from generations to generations. The implication is as demeaning to today’s Caribbean populations as it was to the gentle people who greeted Christopher Columbus.
Five hundred years ago, this contemptuous portrayal of the inhabitants of the New World, was a convenient way to justifying enslaving them and treating them like cattle. It implied them to be sub-humans savages in the most derogatory sense of the word.
Today, perpetuating this myth is unjustifiable and in poor taste. It is a throwback to the racial antagonism of the indefensible ideology of the twentieth century when the blacks were the target of racial slurs, segregation, demeaning treatment, brutality, and considered racially inferior to their white counterparts.
If we allow these kinds of racial slurs to go without remark or rebuke, then I am sorry to say, we haven’t learned anything yet about humanity. If we have any capacity to be touched by the cries of pain and anguish from centuries past, we must leave the theater perturbed. Once again, the film industry has exploited the native people by slanderous implications of cannibalism. The original inhabitants of these islands are victims of cinematic self-sabotage since, as extras, they represented themselves and by extension, their ancestors. Mr. Walt Disney, who was one of the most honored film makers of his time, would not be proud to have one of his production be an embarrassment to the film industry.