Because the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs put together to host the AFC Championship recreation this Sunday, Rob Grabow, author, producer, co-director, and lead actor within the indie movie The Year of the Dog, which touches upon indigenous themes, asks audiences to think about the query, “Is the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs workforce identify dangerous?”
The Yr of the Canine, which releases nationwide on February 24, 2023, is a narrative about two strays: Matt, an alcoholic struggling to take care of sobriety, and Yup’ik, a rescue canine with an uncommon athletic reward.
Grabow by no means supposed to make use of his first characteristic movie to handle controversial American skilled sports activities workforce names, such because the Atlanta Braves and the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, together with a few of their “offensive” fan traditions, just like the “tomahawk chop.” Nonetheless, on day one, after filming an early scene reverse Michael Spears, a Lakota-Sioux actor whose credit embrace Dances with Wolves, Reservation Canine, and 1923, Grabow seen that Spears appeared upset and approached him.
Spears shared with Grabow that it was painful for him to do the scene as a result of Grabow’s character was sporting a Braves hat. Spears defined, “Using Native American workforce names, themed mascots, degrading gestures, and cartoonish rituals are deeply dangerous to the vanity and dignity of indigenous folks.” Since Dances with Wolves, when not filming, Spears travels the nation advocating on indigenous points and devoting his life to assist help indigenous youth. Spears made it clear to Grabow that “seeing the Braves identify was humiliating.”
Grabow was shocked. Having grown up in Alaska, together with in rural native villages, the Atlanta Braves, one in every of solely two professional sports activities groups recurrently accessible on tv, was the primary skilled baseball workforce Grabow watched. He idolized them a lot that for his first private buy, at 9 years outdated, he spent his life financial savings on a Braves baseball hat. So, in his authentic script, Grabow included the Braves hat and workforce identify in just a few scenes as a part of Matt’s “endearing backstory, unaware of the emotional harm it might not solely trigger his forged member, but in addition a complete Indigenous group.”
Grabow was fast to treatment the state of affairs, instantly inviting Spears to assist rewrite the scene and create new dialogue instantly addressing the problem of the Braves hat.
“We’re not Braves or Chiefs or Redskins. We’re actual folks,” Spears says within the new scene. “I’m not a goofy cartoon. We don’t do the tomahawk chop…. And that makes a distinction in how we really feel about ourselves. That impacts my vanity. That impacts our children’ vanity.”
“Studying to have troublesome conversations is crucial, particularly in a divided political local weather,” Grabow added. “I’m pleased with the best way Michael and I confronted this severe subject. I consider the scene now supplies a helpful street map for participating in controversial subject material with mutual respect and understanding.”
The NFL’s Washington Redskins formally rebranded because the Commanders; MLB’s Cleveland Indians, because the franchise was identified for over a century, are actually the Guardians; tons of of schools and excessive colleges throughout the nation have “revised or eradicated using derogatory and hurtful symbols. Recognizing the misery it brought on of their group, a Utah highschool workforce, as soon as often known as the Bountiful Braves, are actually the Bountiful RedHawks. A Florida highschool workforce, as soon as often known as the Chamberlain Chiefs, are actually the Chamberlain Storm.
“Whereas the problem of the offensive Atlanta Braves workforce identify is a minor subplot of the movie, it leaves audiences asking, because it does a lifelong Braves fan like Grabow, ‘Why is it that this small handful of our skilled sports activities groups nonetheless cling to names that hurt the vanity of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous People?’”