An Unintended Alternative Reading Of A Scene From “Smoke Signals”

I finally got to see Smoke Signals recently. I intended to watch it almost twenty years ago when everyone else did, but I got into an argument with the friend I was going to the theater with and ended up not going. I finally saw it recently at home, and saw something that wasn’t intended but gave me a different interpretation on a scene.

There’s a flashback scene where Victor Joseph (Adam Beach, though played by Cody Lightning in the childhood flashback scenes) is angrily and disappointedly present for yet another drunken party and his drunken father Arnold Joseph (Gary Farmer) asks him…well, let’s just quote:

Arnold: Hey Victor, who’s your favorite Indian, huh? Who’s your favorite?

Arlene: It’s your momma, huh? Tell him it’s your momma.

Young Victor: (softly) Nobody.

Arnold: What did you say, Victor? Speak up, boy. Who’s your favorite Indian?

Young Victor: Nobody.

Arnold: Nobody, huh? Nobody! Did you say nobody?

Arlene: He didn’t mean it. Come on, tell him Victor. Tell your daddy you didn’t mean it.

Young Victor: Nobody. Nobody. Nobody.

Arlene: You gotta love somebody, Victor.

Arnold: Nobody! Nobody! Nobody!

Now, I understand the snap Victor is supposed to be having here, the betrayal he’s committing out of his anger and disappointment at how he feels everyone, particularly his parents, are squandering their lives and resignedly allowing their lives to be destroyed. However, at that moment, I saw more. It wasn’t intended to be there, but I saw more.

After all, Arnold Joseph:

and Nobody from Dead Man:

See? Gary Farmer, the actor playing Victor’s father, also played Nobody in Dead Man! Don’t get mad, Arnold! Who is Victor’s “favorite Indian?” It’s you! It’s the character you play in Dead Man!

It’s an emotional scene, so humor isn’t really appropriate, but I just couldn’t get over the odd connection I put together for myself there. I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that.

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About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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One Response to An Unintended Alternative Reading Of A Scene From “Smoke Signals”

  1. Christy says:

    I noticed.

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