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Interracial Representation in Popular American Imagination

Miscegenation in the United States is a social taboo stretching back to early colonial North America. At first, Puritan theology condemned its practice. With the institutionalizing of slavery, the racial-caste system crystalized such divisions segregating specifically black-white sexual union. Subsequently from the religious to pseudo-scientific racism, eugenics further legislated such prohibitions. By the twentieth century, the effects of Jim Crow laws restricted the spirit of artistic license by suppressing interracial imageries. With the arrival of motion pictures, the Hays Code firmly enforced anti-miscegenation guidelines in popular Hollywood film. While a knee-jerk assumption is to summon pervasive binary between black and white miscegenation, the article proposes examples of all diverse mixing of racial and ethnic categories. Meanwhile, it explores a variety of interrelated questions. How are interracial romances treated in recent popular culture across the varying artistic mediums? What elements of interracial relationships are censured? What does such specific excising say about our society? In contemporary United States, what are considered the more acceptable pairing[s] of interracial couples and why?

  • A few grammatical errors here, but not a cause for rejection. – m-cubed 3 years ago
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  • Sounds interesting. There has been a shift in inter-racial portrayals. Good topic. – Munjeera 3 years ago
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  • I love this topic. I do agree with you and understand why this is a topic of interest. – daefray24 3 years ago
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  • I definitely want to read this! Even as recently as this year, the backlash towards film and television that shows interracial relationships proves there is still work to be done. Might be good for someone to hone in on one type of media, whether it be comic book films, music videos, dystopian literature etc. Your discussion points are really interesting and complex, I hope there are some takers. – Zujaja 3 years ago
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Misrepresentation of Asians in Western culture

Most of the time, Asians are portrayed as one of the four: Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Korean. This leads to inevitably neglecting other Asian nationalities as those from Southeast Asia (i.e. people from Thailand, Malaysia, and/or Philippines look very different from the first four nationalities cited, and are somehow unrepresented/do not have enough representation)

  • Yes! This is an important topic. I think Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and Korean are the main four because of popular culture (e.g. Bollywood, anime, kpop). Other Asians should also be represented equally.You could possibly talk about how beauty standards of the four main Asian nationalities differ compared to other Asian nationalities. For example, from personal experience some Koreans taunt Filipinos because they tend to have darker skin (there's colorism within Korean beauty standards). – seouljustice 4 years ago
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  • Put this under the TV section because I think there are more TV show examples that can be used. One specific show that came to mind is The 100, which is a dystopian show that supposedly features all nations that survived the end of times as one group - the people of 'The Ark'. But you can only ever find Chinese people as representatives of Asians.There are quite a lot of shows that can be used. Basically, just pick a show that has an Asian character and more likely they will be any of the most common four I've mentioned. – Ruth 4 years ago
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  • This is an important topic! I agree with Ruth, I would put it in the TV sections. There are so many examples of misrepresentation of Asians in western culture in television. -Lindsey – lindseyjane 4 years ago
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  • If you intend to look at writing/literature, especially Shakespeare, it would be worth exploring Jerry Brotton's book: This Orient Isle: Elizabethan England and The Islamic World (Milton Keynes: Penguin Random House, 2016) Concerning the representation of the East in Shakespeare's work. May spur some interesting thoughts for you?! – AngelicaHill 4 years ago
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  • Thank you, AngelicaHill! Should be really helpful. – Ruth 4 years ago
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  • It's also worth noting that Emily Kuroda and Keiko Agena, who played Mrs. Kim and Lane Kim (respectively) on "Gilmore Girls," are both Japanese, yet they were cast to play Koreans, and their Korean-ness was emphasized repeatedly throughout the series. Why, then, would you cast Japanese women (as great as Emily and Keiko both are)? Something to think about. – KKillian 4 years ago
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  • Yes! That is a very good point. Thank you, KKillian. – Ruth 4 years ago
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Race and Film

Analysis of films as they relate centrally to race as a primary lens.

  • Examples? – Darcy Griffin 4 years ago
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  • Hmmm...what comes to mind is actually Disney's recent film, Zootopia. Totally hilarious, classic Disney fare. But also a pretty clear race allegory, as many reviewers have noticed. Gets to the heart of racialized discourse: are people of certain races (or in Zootopia's case, bunnies) inherently passive, while others (see wolves in the film) are aggressive and still others (see foxes) sneaky and conniving? Of course not, but these are the assumptions we inherit and perpetuate, even on the subtlest levels. Ruminating on these topics in animated form is, I think, rather ingenious. – alissac 4 years ago
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  • There are a ton of different ways this could go. Some specification is probably needed: films from a certain era? Country or region? About certain race(s)? Different genres? There are a lot of different factors that will affect the role race plays in a movie. – chrischan 4 years ago
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  • Qu'Allah bénisse la France (2014) a French film, shot in black & white that takes a look at the racism, France's well-known unemployment issue as well as heavy drug use and how these factors affect the youngsters in a devastating manner. The film is based on a true story. – oksly 4 years ago
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Published

The Perpetuating Whiteness in Today's Films

I am constantly baffled at the still perpetuating amount of Caucasian actors and the lack of diversity in today’s film industry. This can range anywhere from the newest comedies, like "The Intern," to action movies like "Jurassic World," to superhero movies like "The Avengers." There may be one or two characters of another ethnicity, such as one African-American or one Indian, but the majority of the characters, especially the main characters, remain to be white.

Why do you think that is? In the 21st century world that we are supposed to be living in, where racism and discrimination are frowned upon, why is there still a permanence, a continuity, and a focus on almost all Caucasian casts in the film industry? What is it about Hollywood that still lacks diversity? Is it the still perpetuating white privilege of society that elevates Caucasian opportunities, but diminishes that of other ethnicities?

  • I think some reasons might include the following. 1. Minorities are.... minorities because there are less of them. So just that fact alone would mean that I would expect to see more white actors than other cultures. 2. People like to watch characters they relate to. So a white girl living in the suburbs probably wants to watch some white girl living in the suburbs. And so Hollywood gives us some white girl in the suburbs part 2. But maybe the article could comment on this. Is it really true? Or does Hollywood just assume that of us? And if it is true, how can we change the way people think so that they can relate to actors of all ethnicities and not have it detract from the way they view a film? – Tatijana 5 years ago
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  • I like that last point, about whether or not it's really true or if it's just the way Hollywood sees society. This could make for a very interesting article if delved in deep enough. – selysrivera 5 years ago
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  • I don't read comics but "The Avengers" is based on a source material and Sgt. Fury is Samuel L Jackson. I think you need to differentiate films that are original versus films based off another work. Otherwise, this topic seems like it brings up good points! – Connor 5 years ago
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  • Also, keep in mind that a lot of film ideas are taken from previous sources and the film industry consciously makes the decision to grossly misrepresent characters that are already POC in their original works. A good example of this would be Tiger Lily from the movie "Pan". – Rachel 5 years ago
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  • Money, honey! At the end of the day, producers feel they will get top dollar because people will pay to see White actors. – Munjeera 5 years ago
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  • There is at least one article currently pending which talks about diversity (or a lack thereof in films) and several articles on this site which talk about whiteness in different media already published. How is this topic any different? – Christen Mandracchia 4 years ago
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9

Hollywood's Representation of African History

There has been much debate about the representation of Africa (past and present) in popular culture; specifically, in the music and film industries. For example, in Taylor Swift’s music video for her song "Wildest Dreams," set in colonial Africa, the representation of Africa is directly through the lens of white Western lives. The trope of white colonial romance in Africa is a main element of the music video.

Why is popular culture so invested in this theme of white colonial romance in Africa and how does this perpetuate racist stereotypes in the media today? How does hollywood and popular culture’s celebration of white colonial privilege promote racist stereotypes and silence African agency and voice?

  • I think you have already hit a key element in this topic when it comes to promoting racist stereotypes and silencing the African voice - representing Africa through the lens of white Western lives. So long as Africa and Africans continue to be represented through a white lens, stereotypes will continue to perpetuate and African voices will only be overshadowed by the white ones. This goes all the way back to Joseph Conrad's "The Heart of Darkness," if not further, to today's "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. Only when the African voice can represent itself, like amazing Harlem writers like Zora Neale Hurston try, will it resonate over white privilege. This is a fascinating subject. Good luck! – selysrivera 5 years ago
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