Eli Roth's 'Green Inferno' Accused of Racist Portrayal of Indigenous People

Amazon Watch, an advocacy group for the rainforest and its indigenous populations, accuses the horror film of featuring "retrograde images that perpetuate racist stereotypes."

The non-profit group Amazon Watch has big issues with Eli Roth's upcoming horror film The Green Inferno.

The film centers on a group of American activists who are captured and tormented by an isolated tribe of cannibals during a trip to the Amazon. The trailer features depictions of native peoples frightening their hostages with threats of torture and painful rituals.

Amazon Watch, which admits it has not viewed the film, says it has seen enough from trailers, reviews and interviews with Roth to determine the film "traffics in racist imagery." The group, which partners with indigenous tribes, says the film comes as the Peruvian government is considering policies to force contact with isolated tribes. It fears the film could help support those policies, which it is against. 

"For almost two decades," the statement reads, "Amazon Watch has partnered with indigenous peoples across the Amazon Basin to advance their rights and defend the rainforest from destructive projects. As such, Amazon Watch is deeply troubled by the overtly racist messaging in Eli Roth's film The Green Inferno. Amazon Watch does not condone the film. We stand behind Peruvian indigenous organizations that have denounced The Green Inferno as racist, promoting retrograde stereotypes of indigenous peoples as savages that enable policies detrimental to the survival of isolated Amazonian indigenous peoples."

A rep for Roth declined to comment, but the director has previously stated that the film is intended as an indictment of "social justice warriors" of the social media age.

"I wanted to write a movie that was about modern activism. I see that a lot of people want to care and want to help, but in general I feel like people don’t really want to inconvenience their own lives," Roth told the Los Angeles Times in July. "And I saw a lot of people just reacting to things on social media. These social justice warriors. ‘This is wrong, this is wrong, this is wrong.’ And they’re just tweeting and retweeting. They’re not actually doing anything."

In its statement, Amazon Watch dismissed Roth's justification for the film, countering that  "no worthwhile 'social commentary' can be based on retrograde images that perpetuate racist stereotypes."  It goes on to call the film "patently racist,' saying that it being greenlighted is "an indictment not only of Roth, but Hollywood in general."

The Green Inferno hits theaters Sept. 25 and is from BH Tilt, in collaboration with Universal Pictures and High Top Releasing.

Aug. 13, 1:38 p.m. Updated with Roth's rep declining to comment.

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