And for all these reasons, I’ve decided to scalp you, and burn your village to the ground.
…See, I have a complicated relationship with this movie. On the one hand, I love me some Addams Family. And Addams Family Values is, on several levels, a really good, really fun watch.
And I like to hear other people— anyone not me— hell, I like being able to hear other people call bullshit on settler mythologies, especially white-lens Pocahontas reimaginings. That shit is my life-blood. That shit is literally life-giving (when it isn’t, you know, heart-breaking or raising my ire).
I even like on a meta-level of storytelling that the Othered campers are the ones cast as Other in this Thanksgiving play, that the camp counselors can’t pronounce “Jamal,” that the “ethnic” kids and the “inferior” kids are shelved as undesirable and impotent by racist, ableist, classist adults. And that the play is used as the jumping-off point for “y’all thought wrong, motherfuckers.”
You still have a White girl dressed as an Indian Princess at the forefront of this story. You still have a White girl as the catalyst for what is admittedly an awesome scene, but which is also a scene whereby the “costume” of indigeneity is used to channel violence and destruction via stereotypes of and around that same indigeneity, which are perpetuated to this day.
I get that it’s a play on Americana, and a takedown of some of it— that there’s this dichotomy at play between the simpering childlike Noble Savage and the brutal Warrior Savage Brave being toyed with because the Addamses aren’t like the rest of the white-picket-fences out there.
That the Addams family subverts expectations, that they flout your Norman Rockwell expectations.
But I never needed Wednesday Addams as a spokesgirl. I didn’t. And I don’t need to be offered a multiple choice between infantilizing or demonizing dehumanizations. And as much as I saw that scene when I was younger and could put myself in Wednesday’s shoes, and I could feel like I was telling people exactly what I thought of their Pilgrim bullshit, and it was a vicarious thrill— I felt that way about the White girls in aprons and buckles as much as I did about the White girls in fringed faux-suede and feathers. But when the only mirror to see yourself in is that White girl, and when the platform to air that anger, that release, is through that same girl, things get… muddy. They get very, very muddy very, very quickly.
And at the end of the day, whether or not I agree with the sentiments being said— whether or not I agree with the methods of delivery, deeply problematic or not— Wednesday Addams doesn’t speak for me. And shouldn’t be circulated and treated as such. I don’t need a White savior. I don’t need another White feminist ally speaking over me.
And that Wednesday’s popular, and she was written as doing so isn’t Christina Ricci’s fault, or even the worst thing ever on a representation level (though it’s pretty fuckin’ bad), but it’s for damn sure indicative of how fucked up it is that not only are Native peoples reduced to props in a mainstream-media story v. much about critiquing White Americana to begin with, that when they are, the way to stand on your soapbox is still via another White girl in braids.