Poor Johnny Depp. All he wanted to do was cash an easy check from Dior by appearing in a new Native American-themed ad campaign for their perfume, Sauvage, and go back to marinating in his own personal stink (top notes of hair grease and cigarettes, finished with base notes of red wine and balls). Sadly, that was not the case for Johnny. Because the commercial came out, and many people – including the Native American community – had a real problem with it. So Dior pulled the ad amid much criticism. And now Johnny is leaping to the defense of Dior, who he claims was only trying to make nothing but the most respectful of Native American-themed perfume commercials.
Dior’s Sauvage’s “We Are The Land” ad featured non-Native American Johnny Depp wandering through the Utah desert to find his guitar hidden under various blankets. It cuts several times to scenes featuring Rosebud Sioux member Canku Thomas One Star danced on a cliff, and Canadian First Nations actress Tanaya Beatty. One argument was that the ad “romanticized Native Americans as relics from the past.”
Even Tanaya herself didn’t think it was totally respectful to the culture, saying she felt conflicted during filming, and that she was “witnessing as a company blatantly disrespected indigenous culture.” But Johnny spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the backlash, and claims that what people saw was just a small teaser for a much longer short film. Johnny adds that they had the best of intentions to portray the Native American culture with respect and love.
“A teaser obviously is a very concentrated version of images and there were objections to the teaser of the small film. The film has never been seen. There was never – and how could there be or how would there be — any dishonorable [intent]. The film was made with a great respect for the indigenous people not just of North America, but all over the world. It’s a pity that people jumped the gun and made these objections. However, their objections are their objections.”
Shame on all of us! It’s OUR fault Johnny and Dior’s beautiful tribute to Native Americana got pulled. If only we had waited for the full film before jumping to such unreasonable conclusions, like “Wow, this feels super exploitative.” Because that was never the point, according to Johnny.
“I can assure you that no one has any reason to go out to try to exploit. It was a film made out of great respect and with great respect and love for the Native American peoples to bring light to them. They haven’t had the greatest amount of help out of the United States government. The idea is as pure as it ever was, so we will come to an agreement so that everyone is happy.”
Johnny adds that Dior is working to resolve this matter in a way that makes everyone happy. I’ll go out on a limb and say one of the ways they could truly celebrate Native American culture would be to take Johnny Depp out of it completely? Because it really takes you out of the moment every time Johnny pops on screen and you wonder, “Oh god, he’s not going to pull out the Tonto costume, is he?”