Created By: rjung on December 28, 2013 Last Edited By: rjung on January 5, 2014
Troped

Hollywood Natives

Stereotypical depiction of tribal natives

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Quite simply, this trope is the (hopefully) now-discredited stereotypical depiction of "natives" in a jungle, open prairie, tropical island, or other such unsettled wilderness. The locals will inevitably be portrayed as culturally "inferior" to the main characters — typical depictions will show the natives as unkempt, dark-skinned, and scantily-clad, decorated with Tribal Face Paint and Savage Piercings, and brandishing spears or bows. When they meet the protagonists, they will either be mesmerized by the Mighty Whitey and accept them as gods, have the heroes for lunch, or invite them to be guests of the volcano god. If they can speak the protagonists' language, expect lots of Tonto Talk or You No Take Candle. Needless to say, when these folks appear, Unfortunate Implications will be quick to follow.

While this was a popular depiction in the past, it's largely a Dead Horse Trope now, due to the aforementioned Unfortunate Implications. If and when this trope appears in modern works, it's often subverted and played for laughs; straight depictions in mainstream Western culture are sure to raise eyebrows or risk quite a backlash.

A meta-trope to Captured by Cannibals, Hollywood Voodoo, Chased by Angry Natives, Stewed Alive, and many others. A supertrope to The Savage Indian, Cannibal Tribe, and The Natives Are Restless.

Contrast with Noble Savage, which glamorizes the locals instead of denigrating them.

Not to Be Confused with people growing up near the Southern California moviemaking capitol.


Examples:

Film - Animated
  • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West: On his way to Green River, Tiger is lured into a trap by the Mousican Tribe - a tribe of native mice, complete with the face painting, chanting, war cries, and everything. They plan on sacrificing Tiger, until the Chief sees him hanging by his paws above the camp fire exactly matches a butte shaped the same, they believe Tiger is their god, and then pamper him with a spread of fruits and vegetables.
  • The Indians in the Disney Peter Pan movie. They smoke pipes, wear feathered headdresses, speak in Tonto Talk, and live in teepees. They even come complete with a truly cringeworthy song called "What Makes the Red Man Red."
  • Ice Age: The Meltdown: As Sid sleeps, he's taken away by a tribe of mini-sloths, who claim Sid is their Fire King, since he previously "discovered" fire. The mini-sloths virtually mimic everything Sid does, which he then decides to use to his advantage by leading them into a devotion chant/song to him. Afterwards, the tribe attempt to toss him into a lava as a sacrifice, on the grounds that his discovery of fire is the reason behind all the ice melting and the impending flood. Only one mini-sloth (presumably the tribal chief, or some kind of head priestess) can speak fluent English.

Film - Live-Action
  • The Wachoochoo and Wachatis tribes from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, complete with chalk-white face and body paint, fur loincloths, and bad hygiene.
  • The Hovitos in the Chased by Angry Natives opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark (blowguns, spears and a nasty attitude).
  • Invoked twice in Airplane!:
    • In one of his flashbacks, Ted talks about working with the Malombo tribe in the Peace Corps. Everyone is dark-skinned and wear cloth wraps and beads, and the men brandish spears and wear feathered headdresses and face paint.
    • One appears briefly during the "news bulletin" montage, wearing a necklace of beads and horns while using Jungle Drums to deliver a news report.
  • The second Pirates of the Caribbean film has a Cannibal Tribe who worship Jack Sparrow as a god, and intend to free him from his physical form.
  • All versions of King Kong feature savage natives, who capture Ann Darrow / Dwan, and sacrifice her to Kong.
    • In the 1933 original film, they are as typical Hollywood Natives as possible.
    • Played with in the 2005 remake; the natives of Skull Island look more like orcs, while the "natives" in the New York stage show use the same costumes, dance and music as the natives of the 1933 film.
  • The Indian in the Cupboard: Little Bear pretty much subverts this, however, when Omri brings to life a figurine of a WW1 medic named Tommy to tend to a wound of his, he greets Little Bear with, "How!", much to Little Bear's confusion.
  • The Ewoks from Return of the Jedi invoke this, not in their appearance (they look like Ugly Cute teddy bears), but in their behaviour. They speak a language C-3PO calls "some kind of primitive dialect", use stone-age weapons and Bamboo Technology (which is still pretty effective against Imperial Stormtroopers), they capture the protagonists, carry them tied to a stick and attempt to eat them, and they worship C-3PO as their god.

Live-Action TV
  • Various tribes of this type appear throughout the run of Gilligan's Island. For example, the episode "Gilligan's Mother-In-Law" has a native family — complete with grass skirts, feathered headdresses, and bad language skills — choosing Gilligan to be a husband for their overweight daughter.
  • Used as a gag in the short lived series Black Tie Affair. One of the main characters is a catalog magnate a la J. Peterman and is shooting the photos for his upcoming catalog. The shoot in this instance is of a (white, female) explorer trussed up in a pot surrounded by natives. The black male models playing the natives complain that it's racist, so they are dressed as lawyers instead - but they still have the girl trussed up in a big pot.
  • Green Acres: In the episode, "The Rains Came", Mr. Haney attempts to make it rain over a drought-ridden Hooterville with a rain-dancing Indian, who speaks broken English, refers to Lisa as, "Pret-ty squaw", and greets people with, "How!" He fails to conjure up rain, though.
  • Hogan's Heroes: Both inverts, and surprisingly (given the period of which the show was on) averts it at the same time in the episode, "Drums Along the Dusseldorf", which reveals Carter is a member of the Sioux tribe (his tribal name is Little Deer Who Goes Swift And Sure Through Forest), despite being fair-skinned and fair-haired. Many of the others razz him throughout the episode with stereotypical war cries, and peppering him with silly questions - not only is Carter clearly annoyed by all of this, but also uncharacteristically slips into Sarcasm Mode. He does, however, take the time to build a bow and arrow set, which he shows little skills with, despite claiming winning a lot of trophies for his archery skills back home.
  • The Munsters: While on vacation, Herman is separated from the rest of the family, and stumbles onto a tourist attraction that is a show business tribe, and although most everyone is an actor dressed up as and acting like a Hollywood Native, the tribe somehow has an actual Native American Chief, who is so old and delusion, that he believes his tribe is real, and even attempts to marry Herman to his daughter.
  • F Troop treats us to an inversion, with Stand-Up Bull, an Indian comedian, and while he certainly doesn't really speak Broken English (neither does his tribe for that matter), he does misuse certain nouns (again, as does his tribe).
    Stand-Up Bull: Seriously tribe, take my brother, him not lazy, him too light for heavy work, and him too heavy for light work! (Immitates a trumpet flourish)
    Chief: Stand-Up Bull? No smoke-signal us, we smoke-signal you.
  • Seinfeld parodies this in, "The Cigar Store Indian", of which Jerry gives to Elaine as an apology gift, not realizing that her friend Wynona is a Native American (and clearly offended by not only Jerry's gift, but his apology card that says, "Let's bury the hatchet. We smoke-em peace pipe". Jerry and Wynona do eventually put it aside, only for Jerry to end up offending her again by implying she's an Indian giver, for wanting back a copy of TV Guide she had given him.

Pinball
  • Played with in Bally's Gilligan's Island pinball. While there is a shirtless native brandishing a spear and holding up a shrunken head, he's also unmistakably pale and wearing face paint that looks like a pair of oversized Nerd Glasses.

Video Games
  • The Crash Bandicoot series have the tribesmen of N. Sanity Island, who worship various monoliths and attempt to capture and/or eat anything that entered their territory. They are led by Papu Papu, an obese chieftan who wears a grass skirt and has his hair tied up in an elaborate tribal mask/headdress.

Western Animation
  • In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Buster, Babs and Hamton are stuck on an island and chased by natives. Animated Actors is invoked at one point, where Buster says "Look, there are some naivetes," and Babs points out that it's a typo in the script, at which point Buster screams and runs away.
  • Occasionally seen in Looney Tunes:
  • Rocky and Bullwinkle: Features such stereotypical Indians in the story arc, "Bumbling Bros. Circus"; the rain dancers capture Rocky and Bullwinkle and attempt to burn them at the stake to please Great Spirit, however, Bullwinkle's humming comb gives them dance fever, and they literally dance up a storm, putting out the flames. The circus comes to their rescue, Boris and Natasha escape, and the tribe realize who the real good and bad guys are, naming Rocky and Bullwinkle honorary chiefs of their tribe, and making peace with the circus (complete with a peace pipe).
  • On Timon & Pumbaa there's a tribe of masked natives that kidnap Pumbaa and make him their king. Subverted when at the end they take off their masks, revealing them to be urbane yuppies with British accents on some sort of corporate retreat.
  • The Pen Guans in Surf's Up, who try to cook Chicken Joe and occasionally attack the camera crew.
  • In The Chipmunk Adventure, the Chipmunks are taken by an Amazonian tribe who wear grass skirts and big floppy headdresses. They make Theodore their Prince of Plenty and plan to sacrifice to a volcano.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • December 28, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    When the natives in question are Native Americans, it's a case of The Savage Indian.

    Also, you might want to mention Savage Piercings somewhere in the description.
  • December 29, 2013
    Arivne
    Formatted the Examples section and sorted the examples by media.

    Changed the "unnamed natives" in the Raiders Of The Lost Ark example to "Hovitos".
  • December 29, 2013
    Snicka
  • December 29, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures Buster, Babs and Hamton are stuck on an island and chased by natives. Animated Actors is invoked at one point, where Buster says "Look, there are some naivetes" and Babs points out that it's a typo in the script, at which point Buster screams and runs away.
  • December 30, 2013
    Arivne
    Some of the OP examples are Zero Context Examples and need more context, such as Ace Ventura.
  • December 30, 2013
    TonyG
  • December 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Used as a gag in the short lived series Black Tie Affair. One of the main characters is a catalog magnate a la J. Peterman and is shooting the photos for his upcoming catalog. The shoot in this instance is of a (white, female) explorer trussed up in a pot surrounded by natives. The black male models playing the natives complain that it's racist, so they are dressed as lawyers instead - but they still have the girl trussed up in a big pot.
  • December 30, 2013
    rjung
    > Some of the OP examples are Zero Context Examples and need more context

    I'd agree, but I suspect a lot of them would end up being variations of "unkempt savages with freaky piercings who keep saying 'ooga booga'." Hollywood is not particularly creative...
  • December 30, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Doesn't matter. Examples written in the form "this trope comes up in work X" doesn't really offer the reader any interesting information. We're interested in not only where but how tropes occur in fiction, and you can always add at least some extra information besides just that "trope happened".
  • December 30, 2013
    Snicka
    Actually, there are no stereotypical natives in the live-action George Of The Jungle movie. The only natives that appear are the crew members that travel with Lyle and Ursula, and they are dressed in modern clothes and are rather intellingent.

    On the other hand:
    • The second Pirates Of The Caribbean has a Cannibal Tribe who worship Jack Sparrow as a god, and intend to free him from his physical form.
    • All versions of King Kong feature savage natives, who capture Ann Darrow / Dwan, and sacrifice her to Kong. In the original film they are as typical Hollywood Natives as possible; in the 2005 remake they look more like orcs.
  • December 30, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Film
    • An American Tail: Fievel Goes West: On his way to Green River, Tiger is lured into a trap by the Mousican Tribe - a tribe of native mice, complete with the face painting, chanting, war cries, and everything. They plan on sacrificing Tiger, until the Chief sees him hanging by his paws above the camp fire exactly matches a butte shaped the same, they believe Tiger is their god, and then pamper him with a spread of fruits and vegetables.

    Live Action TV
    • Green Acres: In the episode, "The Rains Came", Mr. Haney attempts to make it rain over a drought-ridden Hooterville with a rain-dancing Indian, who speaks broken English, refers to Lisa as, "Pret-ty squaw", and greets people with, "How!" He fails to conjure up rain, though.
    • Hogans Heroes: Both inverts, and surprisingly (given the period of which the show was on) averts it at the same time in the episode, "Drums Along the Dusseldorf", which reveals Carter is a member of the Sioux tribe (his tribal name is Little Dear Who Goes Swift And Sure Through Forest), despite being fair-skinned and fair-haired. Many of the others razz him throughout the episode with stereotypical war cries, and peppering him with silly questions - not only is Carter clearly annoyed by all, but also uncharacteristically slips into Sarcasm Mode. He does, however, take the time to build a bow and arrow set, which he shows little skills with, despite claiming winning a lot of trophies for his archery skills back home.
    • The Munsters: While on vacation, Herman is separated from the rest of the family, and stumbles onto a tourist attraction that is a show business tribe, and although most everyone is an actor dressed up as and acting like a Hollywood Native, the tribe somehow has an actual Native American Chief, who is sold old and delusion, that he believes his tribe is real, and even attempts to marry Herman to his daughter.
  • December 30, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Fixed typos in my submissions, my apologies.

    Film
    • The Indian In The Cupboard: Little Bear pretty much subverts this, however, when Omri brings to life a figurine of a WW 1 medic named Tommy to tend to a wound of his, he greets Little Bear with, "How!", much to Little Bear's confusion.
  • December 30, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    A couple of more examples:

    Live Action TV
    • F Troop treats us to an inversion, with Stand-Up Bull, an Indian comedian, and while he certainly doesn't really speak Broken English (neither does his tribe for that matter), he does misuse certain nouns (again, as does his tribe).
      Stand-Up Bull: Seriously tribe, take my brother, him not lazy, him too light for heavy work, and him too heavy for light work! (Immitates a trumpet flourish)
      Chief: Stand-Up Bull? No smoke-signal us, we smoke-signal you.
    • Seinfeld parodies this in, "The Cigar Store Indian", of which Jerry gives to Elaine as an apology gift, not realizing that her friend Wynona is a Native American (and clearly offended by not only Jerry's gift, but his apology card that says, "Let's bury the hatchet. We smoke-em peace pipe". Jerry and Wynona do eventually put it aside, only for Jerry to end up offending her again by implying she's an Indian giver, for wanting back a copy of TV Guide she had given him.

    Western Animation
    • Rocky And Bullwinkle: Features such stereotypical Indians in the story arc, "Bumbling Bros. Circus"; the rain dancers capture Rocky and Bullwinkle and attempt to burn them at the stake to please Great Spirit, however, Bullwinkle's humming comb gives them dance fever, and they literally dance up a storm, putting out the flames. The circus comes to their rescue, Boris and Natasha escape, and the tribe realize who the real good and bad guys are, naming Rocky and Bullwinkle honorary chiefs of their tribe, and making peace with the circus (complete with a peace pipe).

    And have a hat, I'm thinking this is going to go places.
  • December 30, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ hat's are not for "i agree with this" votes. you only give hats if the article is ready to launch at it's current state.

    Marked several Zero Context Example. please read that page if you have no idea what makes them such.

    Also, please trim those examples. Too verbose. The only relevant information is how the natives are depicted, we don't need a summary of the plot involving them.
  • December 30, 2013
    arbiter099
    Nubile Savage as another subtrope?
  • December 31, 2013
    TonyG
    • On Timon And Pumbaa there's a tribe of masked natives that kidnap Pumbaa and make him their king. Subverted when at the end they take off their masks, revealing them to be urbane yuppies with British accents on some sort of corporate retreat.
    • The Pen Guans in Surfs Up, who try to cook Chicken Joe and occasionally attack the camera crew.
    • In The Chimunk Adventure, the Chipmunks are taken by an Amazonian tribe who make Theodore their Prince of Plenty, whom they will sacrifice to a volcano.
  • December 31, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ Surfs Up and Chipmunk are Zero Context Example. at least mention how they look like, it's part of the package of the trope.
  • December 31, 2013
    Snicka
    ^ I don't think those are Zero Context Examples... the Surfs Up is clearly a Cannibal Tribe while the Chipmunk ones Appease The Volcano God, both are typical traits of the Hollywood Natives.
  • December 31, 2013
    justanotherrandomlurker
    The tribe in The Chipmunk Adventure don't necessarily look like Hollywood Natives, but they do kind of behave like them: most of their clothing only consists of grass skirts, the tribal chief wears a big floppy head dress, any attempt they make at English is pretty much speech impediments, such as their new favorite song Alvin introduces them to is, "Woory Boory" (Wooly Bully). But yes, they do claim Theodore is their long-lost Prince of Plenty, and attempt to sacrifice him (and Alvin and Simon) over a crocodile pit, not a volcano.

    Film
    • Ice Age: The Meltdown: As Sid sleeps, he's taken away by a tribe of mini-sloths, who claim Sid is their Fire King, since he previously "discovered" fire. The mini-sloths virtually mimic everything Sid does, which he then decides to use to his advantage by leading them into a devotion chant/song to him. Afterwards, the tribe attempt to toss him into a lava as a sacrifice, on the grounds that his discovery of fire is the reason behind all the ice melting and the impending flood. Only one mini-sloth (presumably the tribal chief, or some kind of head priestess) can speak fluent English.
  • December 31, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    ^ too wordy. how about:
    • During one of their campings, Sid The Sloth was taken by a tribe of mini-sloths, who claim Sid is their Fire King, a Continuity Nod to his discovery in the first film. They mimic what he did, which he then exploits by leading them into a song/dance number in his honor, this dance then develops into the tribe attempting to toss him into a lava as a sacrifice. because they think the fire king caused the meltdown.

    EDIT: actually never mind, mine isn't an improvement at all.

    Snicka — make that "insufficient" then. appearance is apparently part of the context here.
  • January 1, 2014
    Snicka
  • January 1, 2014
    LordGro
    Problem no. 1: Bad name. It implies that Hollywood, as opposed to other film industries or non-movie media, is somehow especially likely to use this trope, but it's not apparent if that is true, or why it should.

    Problem no. 2: Vague definition. The description mentions various traits that are supposedly characteristic for this trope, but it fails to make clear what actually ties this traits together, i.e. what is the core of the trope.

    The example list actually lists many very different things: Natives that are cannibals (which is a redundant duplication of Cannibal Tribe); natives that sacrifice foreigners (which, taken for itself, is a self-standing trope); natives that are merely portrayed stereotypical (but are otherwise friendly), like Indians doing rain-dances or saying "How!". What the page fails to make clear is what all these diverse stereotypes have in common.
  • January 1, 2014
    Snicka
    ^ I think this is intended to be a Missing Supertrope for Cannibal Tribe, The Savage Indian, and the rest. The common thing that links them together is that their culture is portrayed "primitive" and "savage". And, regarding the name, my impression is that "Hollywood" is a Loaded Trope Word for anything stereotypical in media, but correct me if I'm wrong.
  • January 1, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Yes, and yes. How I see it, this trope is supposed to be the opposite of Noble Savage, which we still seem to lack. What it comes to Hollywood being a Loaded Trope Word, just check the tropes listed in the Hollywood Style index. As the description of that page states:

    Note that despite being called "Hollywood", those tropes are definitely not restricted to American big-budget cinema, and not necessarily coming from it; Hollywood movies being the most accessible works of fiction in our modern world, it is only fair that we'd believe most tropes (rightfully or not) come from here.
  • January 1, 2014
    LordGro
    ^^ The question is, what is "primitive" and "savage"? The trope makes no effort to define or analyze these concepts. What is the correlation between "primitivity" and "savagery"? Isn't the Noble Savage still "savage"? Is being "primitive" and "savage" always a negative stereotype? (If it is, how can we have Noble Savages at all?)

    ^ That's not really a good argument for "Hollywood Natives". The note is basically saying that this usage started as a bad practice that is too much trouble to fix. No reason at all to continue a bad practice with new trope names.

    FYI, if the trope we are talking about is the opposite of Noble Savage—which would be something like Savage Savage—then it goes back at least to the 16th century. It predates Hollywood by centuries. It really would sound silly to refer to Caliban from The Tempest as a "Hollywood Native". It's neither specific to Hollywood, nor are all natives in Hollywood movies Savage Natives. Completely non-indicative name.
  • January 1, 2014
    Snicka
    ^ Actually, Savage Natives, Primitive Savage, Brutal Savage or something along the line would work well as a trope name (not Savage Savage though, that's a bit redundant).
  • January 1, 2014
    rjung
    I like "Hollywood Natives" just because it ties in well with the rest of the Hollywood Style tropes — yes, the idea predates motion pictures, because negative stereotyping of People From Far Away is as old as human civilization.

    And I would be a little hesitant to call this trope the opposite of Noble Savage; the idea here is simply any portrayal of native folks that isn't glamorizing them. Think of the characters that might appear in an old sitcom like F Troop or Gilligans Island — they don't have to be bloodthirsty savages, man-eating cannibals, or warmongering berserkers, they're just "unkempt folks with bad hair who interact with the protagonists." That'd be another reason I would prefer "Hollywood Natives" over any name that has "Savage" in it, because the characters in question don't have to be savage at all.
  • January 1, 2014
    tymewiz
    in crash bandicoot papu papu is this, he's the cheif of the tribe on n.sanity island
  • January 2, 2014
    DAN004
    So what, somebody is complaining about our usage of "Hollywood"? Burn him and send him to hell!!!11

    Okay, just kidding :P
  • January 2, 2014
    Larkmarn
    Am I the only one who thought this was about people born in/around Hollywood from the name?
  • January 2, 2014
    KomodoClassic
    The Indians in the Disney Peter Pan movie. They smoke pipes, wear feathered headdresses, speak in Tanto Talk, and live in teepees. They even come complete with a truly cringeworthy song called "What Makes the Red Man Red."
  • January 2, 2014
    DAN004
    ^^ We can always use Not To Be Confused With.
  • January 3, 2014
    Snicka
    Minor correction: Ice Age The Meltdown isn't live-action, it's animated.
  • January 3, 2014
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced a bunch of examples + moved the Ice Age example in the Film - Animated section.
  • January 3, 2014
    robinjohnson
    Peter Jackson's version of King Kong plays with this: in the stage show in New York, the 'natives' use the same costumes, dance and music as the 'real' natives of the 1930s film.
  • January 4, 2014
    LordGro
    Sorry, I still think the definition needs sharpening badly. "Any stereotyping of native people that does not glamorize them", "denigrating stereotypes about natives", or any other attempt to define a trope as the negative of another trope, is not an actual trope definition.

    Consider that stereotypes are not always clearly positive or negative. They can be neutral, double-edged, or be one or the other depending on context. "Scanty clothing" is, for example, also a frequent ingredient in the Noble Savage. Whether it is a positive or negative trait depends on perspective: It can be treated as a sign of "primitivity" and "uncivilizedness", objectifying Fan Service (see National Geographic Nudity), or a natural behavior that contrasts positively with European prudishness.

    The description does also very little to analyze the traits it identifies as negative stereotypes. Being "unkempt" is mentioned as an important part of the stereotype; but what does "unkemptness" signify? Uncleanliness, "primitiveness", mental derangedness, or just being somewhat quirky and off-beat?

    Also, you should give evidence that the traits you are talking about are actual stereotypes. There are, after all, native peoples in tropical zones who traditionally are or were "scantily clad", use spears, face paint, piercings etc. Portraying people as they really are is not stereotyping. It is clearly a stereotype if these traits are portrayed wrongly, transported to the wrong time frame, or are given to peoples who don't have them in real life, just because they are "natives" (say, an Inuit in a grass skirt [hypothetical example]). But a 19th century American Indian using a bow for hunting or fighting is hardly a mere stereotype.

    The description also has some more obvious shortcomings, such as two links to Unfortunate Implications, which is bad both times, as links to YMMV pages from the main wiki are discouraged. Rather than referring the reader to another page, the description should actually spell out what it is that is unfortunate. And if the stereotype inherently depicts the natives as inferior, then it's no longer an unfortunate implication.

    As to Hollywood Natives, the first thing that comes to my mind under the name are clearly the Skull Islanders from the 1933 King Kong. Who may have some things in common with the natives from Gilligan's Island, but nevertheless the warlike, savage, unpredictable, threatening Skull Islanders seem to play in an entirely different league than those quirky sitcom natives.

    Edit: Eliminated a Sinkhole to Understatement in the description.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=urs8wwqvqot2go2oep5qi3wy&trope=HollywoodNatives