The New Hollywood Racelessness: Only the Fast, Furious, (and Multiracial) Will Survive

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2010-08-25 17:20Z by Steven

The New Hollywood Racelessness: Only the Fast, Furious, (and Multiracial) Will Survive

Cinema Journal
Volume 44, Number 2, Winter 2005
pages 50-67

Mary C. Beltrán, Associate Professor of Media Studies
University of Texas, Austin

This article interrogates the rise of the “multiculti” action film and the casting of multiracial actors as Hollywood action film protagonists. These trends are examined in light of shifts in U.S. ethnic demographics and youth-oriented popular culture.

Recent Hollywood films such as Romeo Must Die (Andrzej Bartkowiak, 2000) and The Fast and the Furious (Rob Cohen, 2001) are notable for their multiethnic casts and stylized urban settings. Correspondingly, the key to the survival of the protagonists in these “multiculti” action narratives is their ability to thrive in environments defined by cultural border crossings and pastiche. Perhaps not coincidentally, the heroes who command these environments increasingly are played by biracial and multiethnic actors, such as Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious and XXX (Rob Cohen, 2002) and Russell Wong, who plays a pivotal role in Romeo Must Die.

This trend reflects contemporary shifts in U.S. ethnic demographics and ethnic identity, while subtly reinforcing notions of white centrism that are the legacy of the urban action movie. In particular, as I shall argue, the new, ethnically ambiguous protagonist embodies contemporary concerns regarding ethnicity and race relations with respect to the nation’s burgeoning cultural creolization and multiethnic population. The analysis presented here shall be situated in the history of Hollywood representations of the multiethnic inner city, as well as in relation to shifts in the country’s ethnic demographics, cultural interests, and popular culture…

Read the entire article here.

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