Stereotypes In The Film Smoke Signals

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For decades, Aboriginal individuals have and continue to face a number of challenges due to their race and spiritual beliefs (Monchalin, 2010). In the movie Smoke Signals directed by Chris Eyre, the characters portray the modernized stereotypes Native Americans experience daily. Eyre takes an interesting take on the movie providing vivid flashbacks of the main characters’ past, allowing the audience to get a sense of what life was like for them growing up (Eyre, Alexie, Bressler, Estes, Rosenfelt, & Skinner, 1998) The two main characters, Victor and Thomas flee from their hometown on an adventure to retrieve the remaining ashes of Victor’s father, Arnold, as Thomas assists with the cost of the trip, one condition; he could join
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Although the two young men did not regularly see eye to eye, the experience alone taught them a lot about themselves, each other and the world they lived in. Overall, the movie adequately exemplifies the hardships that Aboriginals experience due to their race regarding alienating stereotypes, spiritual beliefs and customs, and diverse ways of living.
Although the movie Smoke Signals is quite comical, easy to follow and relate to, there are notable stereotypes and negative stigmas significantly portrayed throughout. A few aspects that were constantly brought up and referenced to were the lack of funds, excessive drinking and intoxication. Based on research, Aboriginals experience stereotypes in many aspects. It was stated that there were two most frequently cited characteristics mentioned across three different studies. Haddock, Zanna, and Esses (1994) revealed Aboriginals were renowned as “lazy” and “alcoholics”, along with “poor” and “uneducated” (Maeder, Yamamoto, McManus, &
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The young Aboriginal men got stared and glared at as they approached the bus as if they were far off creatures approaching earth for the first time. On the contrary, the young men also had their own view of what an Indian should look like. Victor says to Thomas that Indians are not supposed to smile; they are supposed to be tough warriors (Eyre et al., 1998). Likewise, there were many comments made by Victor and Thomas that demonstrated their views and perceptions of non-Aboriginals. When Victor and Thomas were on the bus, they came into contact with an attractive non-Aboriginal female. They started talking and, after the interaction Victor said “Nice my ass, she was a liar. What would a big shot Olympian be doing on a bus? Don’t you know anything? People are awful… Just remember Thomas you can’t trust anybody” (Eyre et al., 1998). This conversation alone portrays the lack of trust and fear Victor perceives. It is evident that Victor had little trust in people, especially non-Aboriginals he came into contact with throughout his journey.
Spiritual Beliefs and Customs Many races, cultures, and religions possess and practice spiritual beliefs and customs; the Aboriginals in Smoke Signals portray that exceptionally. For example, Victor mentions that Indian’s hair is remarkably cherished (Eyre et al., 1998). There were two scenes in the movie where both Victor and

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