Event DateOct 05, 2010
Presented at the CRG Thursday Forum, Mixed Race/Mixed Space in Media Culture & Militarized Zones, October 5, 2010
A Critical Race Theory Approach to Understanding Cinematic Representations of the Mixed Race Experience
Kevin Escudero, Ethnic Studies
This presentation focuses on the developmental trajectory of the portrayal of mixed race people in mainstream media. Primarily looking at film, but also analyzing other media texts such as photography, stand-up comedy and particular sub-genres of film (Disney, television series, etc.) this presentation seeks to understand the ways in which different forms of media have portrayed mixed race people pre and post-Loving. While much work has been done on the depiction of mixed race people in media post-Loving, there is a need for such work to be contextualized within the pre-Loving depictions of mixed race. Furthermore, very little attention has been given to the ways in which pre-1967 depictions of mixed race characters (e.g. the tragic mulatto) oftentimes reflect as well as perpetuated racist stereotypes of mixed race people. These depictions of mixed race people during the anti-miscegenation era are what I argue, has given rise to the utilization by mixed race people of multiple forms of self-expression available through various media in the post-Loving era.
Using a framework of “neutralizing the Other” in combination with a Critical Race Theory analysis I will also examine the ways in which post-1967 depictions of mixed race people in media have resulted in a neutralizing of the pre-1967 “threat” of miscegenation and the resulting mixed race offspring of these marriages. Using pre-1967 depictions as a backdrop for post-Loving discourse, this paper also comments as to the self-perception and self-representation of mixed race youth today in film. In this analysis, other forms of marginalization and subordination are prevalent, specifically gender. Not to be overlooked in mixed race and miscegenation discourse, women of color are more often than not depicted as hypersexualized, super-fertile beings while mixed race men depending on their racial mixture are depicted as either hyper-masculine beings (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Vin Deisel) or associated with a more effeminate masculinity (e.g. Keanu Reeves who is half Asian and half Caucassian). Tiger Woods, on the other hand, and the media portrayal of his marriage scandal at the end of 2009, has been cast as the ultimate playboy among men.