Enough of political problems, economic enigmas, and whether too much coffee really leads to cancer or not. Let’s talk about movies.
You’ve probably noticed that Kevin Costner is everywhere. In recent years he has played everything from the untouchable, Capone-bashing hero of Chicago, Eliot Ness, to the tender visionary who clears his cornfield to build a baseball diamond in Field of Dreams. And Costner has hit the big time in his last three films: Dances with Wolves, Robin Hood, and JFK.
I don’t go out to the movies—but when Dances with Wolves won all of those Academy Awards, I eagerly awaited the video, and then Patty and I rented it one evening.
You probably know the story: Kevin Costner plays a sensitive Civil War hero sent to command a U.S. fort on the western frontier. He gradually makes friends with a nearby Sioux Indian tribe. He finds the Indians far more attractive than the white men he has known—and so do the viewers.
After all, the Sioux in this film are noble, humane, and all of their loincloths seem to have been freshly drycleaned. And almost every white person in the movie besides Costner is drunk, insane, or vicious. It’s a relief when they get scalped. One movie critic wrote that he overheard a viewer say, “It makes you ashamed to be white.”
There are surely points in American history that whites do well to be ashamed of. Our treatment of Native Americans included many horrid injustices. But the record also shows that at the point of history Wolves depicts so stunningly, the Sioux were in fact the most warlike of all the Indian tribes of the Plains. During the Civil War they led one of the bloodiest massacres ever.
At one point in the fictional rendering, Costner brings bad news to his Indian brothers: more white ...1
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