Tonto's TV Script Revision (not your usual Disney ride)

"Tonto's TV Script Revision" was a television script where Tonto reached the end of his rope with all the simpleminded stuff he'd dealt with over the years at the lone ranger set. Tonto chuckled to himself at the visual of the lone ranger throwing a hissy-fit about a scene they shot that morning. Apparently Tonto didn't say "Yes Kemosabe" with enough enthusiasm and the lone ranger nearly cried about it to the director.

It was just after midnight and the whole world seemed to be asleep. "Well heck, screw this," Tonto whispered to nobody in the darkened room at his middle-class LA home. Kemosabe was about to get a little indigenous makeover, if you get my drift. Tonto was sitting before a typewriter with a blank sheet of paper, quietly meditating about the idea of bringing at least a small measure of meaning to a new Lone Ranger script. "All this shit wears me out, man" he said to his shadow with another chuckle. And he got up to stretch, sat down, took a sip of fresh coffee, then typed relentlessly until it was nearly dawn.

The producer laughed when Tonto handed him the new script. "What's this shit? Are you kidding me? We've already got all the scripts to the end of the season." Tonto just gazed at him silently for a few moments and said cooly, "Either you produce this and get everyone to buy into it or I'm walking. Today. If you don't keep that Kemosabe's dumbass out of my way, I swear I'm going to kick it right into last week. That's what this shit is." They just stared at each other for a few tense moments until the producer said "What the hell, give it to me and I'll run it by the director." Tonto simply replied, "No. Try again, Kemosabe."

The gist of the script had Tonto in the role of the new sheriff, authorized by the First Nations Tribal Court to arrest the criminal child abuser Richard Pratt and to bring him to justice. Pratt had started the Carlisle Indian School and it was patterned after indian prisons that he'd worked at while in the army. Tonto knew many of the people who survived these schools and wanted to do an episode about them.

The Indian boarding schools are a tragic part of American and Canadian history. Australia did a similar thing with their aboriginal people too. There is a more comprehensive story about this at various websites, including the one here at NPR, titled, "American Indian Boarding Schools Haunt Many."

Unfortunately, this episode of the Lone Ranger never aired and was censored out of the series, but Tonto got it filmed. The Lone Ranger series continued for another year until America became bored with the cartoonish theatrics of the lead actor. Tonto's film was 60 years too early and would've scored well at the Sundance Film Festival in the darkly humorous drama category, because it was a gritty, yet honest look at ourselves.

"Tonto's TV Script Revision" has been published in various books and exhibited at a number of museums and galleries. Hopefully, Johnny Depp will bring a measure of significance to his portrayal of Tonto in his own film due to be released next year, and Tonto won't be portrayed like the dopey yet lovable character from Depp's wildly successful pirate films. In the bigger picture of the universe, this is kind of trivial, but on the other hand, myths do count.

Story and Photos Copyright Larry McNeil, all rights reserved 2012.

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