The American West — both the real version that shaped America’s history and the mythologized version that shaped Hollywood — continues to be a subject of fascination for filmmakers.
Taylor Sheridan has built an unprecedented TV empire around his Western soap opera “Yellowstone” and its series of spin-offs that take place across the past two centuries of American life. While the Kevin Costner-led show will be ending after Season 5 due to an irreconcilable contract dispute, the “Taylorverse” continues to form the backbone of Paramount+ and won’t be disappearing any time soon. However, many critics dismiss Sheridan’s work as simplistic “red state shows” — charges that have also been thoughtfully disputed — and claim they don’t turn a critical enough eye toward American history.
On the other side of the equation is Martin Scorsese’s upcoming “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which tells the true story of a series of murders that targeted wealthy Native Americans in Oklahoma at the turn of the 20th century. The epic, which was filmed in Oklahoma with the participation of the Osage Nation, connects the murders to similar events like the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 to paint a picture of the evils that shaped 20th-century economic dynamics.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” breakout star Lily Gladstone has disputed the idea that Scorsese’s film is a Western, as she rejects the idea films about Native Americans need to be pigeonholed in one genre.
“A lot of people are really wanting to call this ‘Martin Scorsese’s Western,’” Gladstone said in an interview with Empire magazine earlier this year. “With Natives and Westerns, we are so dehumanized that it just kind of feels like we’re part of the landscape — instead of humans that are telling a story.”
But in a new interview with Vulture, Gladstone did draw a clear contrast between “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Sheridan’s portrayals of the West.
“Delusional! Deplorable!” she said when asked about her opinions on “Yellowstone.” She added that she auditioned for the series because nuanced roles for Native Americans are scarce, so she doesn’t fault any actors for participating in it. “No offense to the Native talent in that. I auditioned several times. That’s what we had.”