The Kevin Costner vanity project "Dances with Wolves" beat "GoodFellas" for Best Picture in 1990. That's right, this three-hour goofy slog that was heralded as the first movie not to have two-dimensional Native American characters, took home the gold statue. The problem? Even if its Lakota characters had actual names and dialogue, they're still depicted as Noble Savages who seem more like cavemen than fleshed-out individuals.
Kevin Costner clownishly plays a Civil War Union soldier named Lt. John Dunbar who goes on a suicide mission rather than have his leg amputated and then is considered brave when he doesn't die miraculously. This hero status then gives him the opportunity to go to any military post he desires, and he chooses one out in the Western American Frontier, because, as he says, "He wants to see it before it's gone." Right, because he knew in 1863 that Walmarts would soon be everywhere (just the first of many heavy-handed environmental messages Costner shoves down our throats). Dunbar then meets the Lakota tribe, befriends them, and then eventually becomes one of them, shunning his American identity forever.
Mary McDonnell plays Stands With A Fist, a white woman whose family was killed by the Pawnee, and then was found and adopted by the Lakota. Of course, she acts as a translator and then also the love interest for him. Because she’s white, so what’s not to love. Even though she looks like she was electrocuted.
Graham Greene plays Kicking Bird, the tribe’s holy man, who befriends Dunbar and is also the adopted father of Stands With A Fist (even though in real life she’s older than him). He’s depicted as nice, but also incredibly simple. Just like all the Lakota in this. And all the American soldiers for that matter.
Join us as we tear apart the historical inaccuracies in the film, marvel at its goofiness, and also talk about how one of the actors in this murdered his wife in real life later.
ALSO: Here's the NYT article Keating mentions at the end about Costner being hated by the Lakota.
This episode is sponsored by Jizz to Say I’m Sorry.