Dawn of the Different: The Mulatto Zombie in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2012-08-02 02:45Z by Steven

Dawn of the Different: The Mulatto Zombie in Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead

The Journal of Popular Culture
Volume 45, Issue 3 (June 2012)
pages 551–571
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2012.00944.x

Justin Ponder

WHILE ZOMBIE FILMS DO NOT BLATANTLY FOCUS ON miscegenation or mulattos, interracial themes abound in them. In George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968), Ben, a black man, saves Barbra, a white woman, from hordes of zombies. From this moment on, the film binds this interracial couple, casting them as partners attempting to survive the horrific attacks of the living dead. Cristina Isabel Pinedo (Recreational Terror: Women and the Pleasures of Horror Film Vieiwng) claims that “racial silence” is the film’s “structuring absence,” and this absence falls no more silent than the romance this interracial coupling implies (29). The film pairs the cantankerous and controlling Mr. Cooper with the long-suffering and submissive Mrs. Cooper while coupling the young, star-crossed lovers Tom and Judy. According to North American cinematic logic, one could safely assume that Ben and Barbra, the remaining adults, would fall in love by film’s end. While the late 60s might have been ready to see a black man save, protect, and even punch a white woman, the era apparently was not prepared to see him walk away hand-in-hand with her as innumerable zombies rise from the dead to keep Night’s black white couple from the normative romantic conclusion of North American cinema.

This romantic tension between black man and white woman continues in Romero’s 1978 Dawn of the Dead. The film focuses on four survivors: Fran, a resourceful news producer; Steve, a helicopter pilot and Fran’s lover; Roger, a S.W.A.T. team member; and Peter, a S.W.A.T. team member and the quartet’s only black man. Robin Wood (“Normality and Monsters: The Films of Larry Cohen and…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Monster Inside: 19th Century Racial Constructs in the 24th Century Mythos of Star Trek

Posted in Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2010-11-20 16:42Z by Steven

The Monster Inside: 19th Century Racial Constructs in the 24th Century Mythos of Star Trek

The Journal of Popular Culture
Volume 31, Issue 1
(Summer 1997)
pages 23–35
DOI: 10.1111/j.0022-3840.1997.3101_23.x

Denise Alessandria Hurd

That is the ineffaceable curse of Cain. Of the blood that feeds my heart, one drop in eight is black—bright red as the rest may be, that one drop poisons all the flood. Those seven bright drops give me love like yours, hope like yours—ambition like yours—life hung with passions like dew-drops on the morning flowers; but the one black drop gives me despair, for I’m an unclean thing—forbidden by the laws—I’m an Octoroon!

Zoe in The Octoroon, 1859

Myself, I think I got the worst of each… that [my Klingon side] I keep under tight control… some times I feel there’s a monster inside of me, fighting to get out… My Klingon side can be terrifying, even to me.

K’Ehleyr from Star Trek: The Next Generation, 1989

Judging from the above two quotes, not much has changed in 130 years of racial image management, The language may have become less poetical by the time of Star Trek, and the “Other” race less specifically marked as an existing ethnic group, but the construction of the Other, especially the Hybrid Other, even down to the implication of an inevitable atavistic biological essentialism when two races are mixed, remains the same. In the world of Star Trek, the society of the future is a pattern card of egalitarian homogeneity. Prejudice is gone and brotherhood reigns supreme, at least theoretically. It is just those pesky “alien” cultures that repeat outmoded cultural conflicts. Or is it? In this article I wish to examine how this television series, whose original intent was to explore and disprove the encoded prejudices of contemporary society by displacing this debate onto a future and presumably Utopian society, still tends to reify a particularly loaded image from nineteenth century psychology and anthropology in the United States: The Tragic Mulatto.

Beginning with the character of Spock in The Original Series (TOS) and on down to B’Elanna Torres on the newest series. Star Trek:  Voyager, (STV) the following familiar crisis is enacted: A Hybrid character…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , ,

Star-Light, Star-Bright, Star Damn Near White: Mixed-Race Superstars

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-10-28 00:57Z by Steven

Star-Light, Star-Bright, Star Damn Near White: Mixed-Race Superstars

The Journal of Popular Culture
Volume 40, Issue 2
(April 2007)
pages 217–237
DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-5931.2007.00376.x

Sika Alaine Dagbovie, Professor of English
Florida Atlantic University

In an episode of the “Chris Rock Show,” comedian Chris Rock searches the streets of Harlem to find out what people think of Tiger Woods. When he asks three Asian storekeepers if they consider Woods Asian, one replies, “‘Not even this much,” pressing two of his fingers together to show no space. This comic scene and the jokes chat surround Wood’s self-proclaimed identity reveal a cultural contradiction that I explore in this essay, namely the simultaneous acceptance and rejection of blackness within a biracial discourse in American popular culture. Though Wood’s self-identification may not fit neatly into the black/white mixed-race identity explored in this project, he still falls into a black/white dichotomy prevalent in the United States. The Asian storekeepers agree with Rock’s tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Tiger Woods is as black as James Brown, opposing sentiments like “The dude’s more Asian than he is anything else” on an Asian-American college Internet magazine (“Wang and Woods”). Woods cannot escape blackness (a stereotypical fried-chicken-and-collard-green-eating blackness according to Fuzzy Zoeller), and yet he also represents a multicultural posterboy, one whose blackness pales next to his much-celebrated multi-otherness.

Through advertising, interviews, and publicity, biracial celebrities encode a distinct connection to blackness despite their projected (and sometimes preferred) self-identification. Drawing from Richard Dyer’s Stars I read biracial celebrities Halle Berry, Vin Diesel, and Mariah Carey by analyzing autobiographical representations, celebrity statuses, public reception, and the publicity surrounding each of the…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,