'Killers of the Flower Moon' actor responds after Gen Z Indigenous outlet posts memes spotlighting his 'handsome uncle' energy

Yancey Red Corn at the 35th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala on Jan. 4 in Palm Springs, Calif. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
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Killers of the Flower Moon actor Yancey Red Corn (Osage/Caddo/Potawatomi), who plays an Osage chief in the Martin Scorsese film, found himself at the center of a meme poking fun at his seemingly flirtatious Native “uncle” energy, courtesy of a Gen Z-focused Indigenous outlet.

After the actor posted photos of himself on Instagram with actresses including Margot Robbie (Barbie) and Emma Stone (Poor Things) at various parties ahead of last weekend’s Golden Globe awards, the Toronto-based Indigenous culture and entertainment outlet Indigenous.tv uploaded a series of memes spotlighting the snaps.

“Unc time undefeated,” Indigenous.tv’s caption read.

The first meme was a photo of Red Corn with the Bachelor logo overlaid on the image.

“He needs to be stopped,” reads the caption of a photo collage of Red Corn with a number of actresses, including Salma Hayek (Puss in Boots) and Natalie Portman (May December) in addition to Robbie and Stone.

Fellow Native actors and industry creatives, including Killers of the Flower Moon actors Lily Gladstone (Blackfeet/Nimíipuu), Cara Jade Myers (Kiowa/Wichita) and Tatanka Means (Diné/Oglala Lakota/UmaŋHoN/Ihanktonwan), appeared on board for the humor, sharing multiple laughing emojis in the comments.

“Out of control,” wrote Gladstone, who won a Golden Globe for Best Female Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama for her role in Killers of the Flower Moon, marking the first time an Indigenous woman has won in the category.

“I think many can relate to Yancey’s role as a charismatic gentleman,” Cody Anthony (Dene), founder of Indigenous.tv, told Yahoo News via email. “I knew playing into it would provoke a laugh out of the cast and also define the ‘Handsome Uncle’ role that the non-Indigenous industry has in their actors.”

For his part, Red Corn told Yahoo News that he was surprised but nevertheless amused by the post. He even reposted some of the memes to his own Instagram Stories.

“I was in my bed early morning in Palm Springs at the Parker Hotel for the Palm Springs International Film Festival and a friend texted me with the meme,” Red Corn told Yahoo News via email. “I was half asleep but when I watched it I just exploded into laughter!”

Not only did the actor, who has also appeared on the TV series Reservation Dogs, hear from friends, he also got messages from former college rugby mates as well as his own family.

“I have a large indigenous family and they all are rolling on the floor or as the nieces and nephews say ROFL or ‘slay.’ Whatever slay means,” he added.

Other Instagram users left comments that reiterated their appreciation of the Native-themed humor.

“Teach us the old ways unc,” wrote @navajo.bladesmith.

“Definition of Deadly Uncle,” added @luisdg_462.

“He can’t be tamed,” wrote @ericaprettyeagle, referring to a line from Reservation Dogs.

Telling ‘positive Indigenous stories’

Anthony, an entrepreneur who is First Nations, told Yahoo News that he launched the social media-based Indigenous.tv in May 2023 in an effort to share positive youth-focused stories about Indigenous communities.

“I was searching online for some positive Indigenous stories to lift my mood, but I could only find stories of injustices — these are imperative to be told, but didn’t improve my mood or motivate me as an Indigenous person,” Anthony said. “This encouraged me to start a space to tell stories around our youth and leaders who are making a difference in industry without sacrificing what makes them who they are.”

By posting humorous memes and shout-outs to various tribes and notable Natives, Anthony is also aiming to shatter stereotypes of Indigenous people that sometimes portray the community as “stoic” or lacking in humor.

“Indigenous peoples all know that we’ve used laughter since time immemorial as healing, medicine and more recently, to cope with the injustices we’ve faced since 1491,” Anthony said. “The beautiful thing about our youth is we are healing and becoming more inclusive as a people as we see role models break barriers across the various industries.”

Red Corn said he sees posts like this as a way to show multiple dimensions of Native people.

“Non-Indigenous people always think of us as stoic people,” Red Corn said. “However, with Sterlin Harjo’s tv show Reservation Dogs I think it opened it up for Non-Indigenous people to see that we are really funny.”