Sci fi offers surprising insights on race

Sci fi offers surprising insights on race

The Brandeis Hoot
Brandeis University

Marissa Lainzi

Months and months of wading through red ink, volleying e-mails, coordinating, coordinating, and coordinating came to fruition for the Mixed Heritage Club on Friday night, as their much-anticipated speaker, Eric Hamako, gave the talk, “Monsters, Messiahs, or Something Else?” a discussion of mixed race issues in sci-fi movies.

Hamako, a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, intrigued the audience with his observations and theories regarding the portrayal of the “new” and “old” mixed race ideals in popular entertainment. Citing the movies Blade and Underworld, Hamako explained the portrayal of mixed-race people as “monsters” or “messiahs”—with vampires, humans, and werewolves becoming the racial metaphors.

The “monster” depiction of mixed-race people, Hamako explained, comes from the “old” conception of mixed race, which presented mixed-race people as deformed, immoral, or somehow wrong or inhuman. The “new” conception of mixed race, on the other hand, presents opposite stereotypes—that mixed-race people are beautiful, genetically superior, and the easy way to quash racism. Hamako calls this the “messiah” depiction.

Using clips from “Underworld,” Hamako showed the movie’s symbolic pitting of the new messiah version of mixed race against the old monster version. Hamako said that this is a way of injecting the new stereotypes about mixed race into the audience’s mind and attempting to justify forgetting that the old stereotypes existed by symbolically destroying them…

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