Dances with Deception

Not long ago, I was looking for some good, clean entertainment. When I found a video that had won 6 Academy Awards and was rated PG, I thought I'd hit the jackpot.   Boy, was I wrong. Oh, I guess the PG rating was fair enough. But it would be more accurate to label it PC--for politically correct.   The film was the highly acclaimed "Dances With Wolves," recently released in video. Superb cinematography, gorgeous landscapes--but thoroughly politicized.   The plot revolves around a Union cavalry officer, sent to head up a fort on the frontier. He arrives to find the fort deserted. For company, he turns to a nearby Sioux Indian tribe. They're such wonderful people that he deserts the Union Army and joins the tribe.   With a plot like that, I hardly need to say that the Sioux are sympathetically portrayed. But sympathetic is not the word for it. This film is outright propaganda for the Indian way of life.   The Indians are sumptuously dressed, meticulously made up. One film reviewer wrote, "These are the most magnificent-looking Indians in movie history, the noblest and the most humane."   By contrast every one of the white soldiers is a loutish brute--drunk, power-mad, or vicious. Film critic Richard Grenier says he overheard a woman say, "It makes you ashamed to be white."   That, of course, is precisely the point of the film. It's an attack on whites and Western culture. It portrays all whites as bad, all Indians as good.   History just isn't that simple and neat. In real history, the Sioux Indians were the most warlike of all Plains Indian tribes. At the time of the Civil War, they led one of the bloodiest uprisings ever. They massacred men, burned buildings, carried off women and children. No one was spared.   This, ironically, was the historical moment at which the fictional Army lieutenant in "Dances With Wolves" goes off to join the Sioux. Because they were supposedly so gentle, peace-loving, environmentally responsible.   There's one intriguing point in the film when the Army lieutenant, played by Kevin Costner, brings his adopted tribesmen bad news: The white men are coming. How many?, the Indians ask. With a pained expression, Costner gestures upward: "As many as the stars."   Is this a slip, or is it an allusion to the Abrahamic covenant--the promise of descendants as numerous as the stars?   I wonder if it isn't a filmwriter's subtle way of saying the Judeo-Christian civilization is the real enemy.   The film's message reveals what Richard Grenier calls "the film industry's New Politics." The leftism of the 60s radicals has been discredited by the collapse of communism. What's in style now is the environment and minorities. Criticism of the West comes packaged as support for non-whites.   As Christians, of course, we support minorities, too. But not by making them into Noble Savages, as though they alone in all the human race were untouched by original sin. As though their native culture was Eden revisited. That kind of utopianism does no one a favor.   In the past, it's true, movies portrayed Indians as one-dimensional bad guys. But you don't correct that by portraying them as one-dimensional good guys. The honest way to portray them is as people made in the image of God, noble yet fallen.   Just like all the rest of us.


Chuck Colson



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