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Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness

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Screen Saviors studies how the self of whites is imagined in Hollywood movies by white directors featuring white protagonists interacting with people of another color. This collaboration by a sociologist and a film critic, using the new perspective of critical "white studies," offers a bold and sweeping critique of almost a century's worth of American film, from Birth of N Screen Saviors studies how the self of whites is imagined in Hollywood movies by white directors featuring white protagonists interacting with people of another color. This collaboration by a sociologist and a film critic, using the new perspective of critical "white studies," offers a bold and sweeping critique of almost a century's worth of American film, from Birth of Nation (1915) through Black Hawk Down (2001). Screen Saviors studies the way in which the social relations that we call "race" are fictionalized and pictured in the movies. It argues that films are part of broader projects that lead us to ignore or deny the nature of the racial divide in which Americans live. Even as the images of racial and ethnic minorities change across the twentieth century, Hollywood keeps portraying the ideal white American self as good-looking, powerful, brave, cordial, kind, firm, and generous: a natural-born leader worthy of the loyalty of those of another color. The book invites readers to conduct their own analyses of films by showing how this can be done in over 50 Hollywood movies. Among these are some films about the Civil War Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, and Glory; some about white messiahs who rescue people of another color Stargate, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mississippi Burning, Three Kings, and The Matrix; the three versions of Mutiny on the Bounty (1935, 1962, and 1984) and interracial romance Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Forty years of Hollywood fantasies of interracial harmony, from The Defiant Ones and In the Heat of the Night through the Lethal Weapon series and Men in Black are examined. This work in the sociology of knowledge and cultural studies relates the movies of Hollywood to the large political agendas on race relation in the United States. Screen Saviors appeals to the general reader interested in the movies or in race and ethnicity as well as to students of com


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Screen Saviors studies how the self of whites is imagined in Hollywood movies by white directors featuring white protagonists interacting with people of another color. This collaboration by a sociologist and a film critic, using the new perspective of critical "white studies," offers a bold and sweeping critique of almost a century's worth of American film, from Birth of N Screen Saviors studies how the self of whites is imagined in Hollywood movies by white directors featuring white protagonists interacting with people of another color. This collaboration by a sociologist and a film critic, using the new perspective of critical "white studies," offers a bold and sweeping critique of almost a century's worth of American film, from Birth of Nation (1915) through Black Hawk Down (2001). Screen Saviors studies the way in which the social relations that we call "race" are fictionalized and pictured in the movies. It argues that films are part of broader projects that lead us to ignore or deny the nature of the racial divide in which Americans live. Even as the images of racial and ethnic minorities change across the twentieth century, Hollywood keeps portraying the ideal white American self as good-looking, powerful, brave, cordial, kind, firm, and generous: a natural-born leader worthy of the loyalty of those of another color. The book invites readers to conduct their own analyses of films by showing how this can be done in over 50 Hollywood movies. Among these are some films about the Civil War Birth of a Nation, Gone with the Wind, and Glory; some about white messiahs who rescue people of another color Stargate, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mississippi Burning, Three Kings, and The Matrix; the three versions of Mutiny on the Bounty (1935, 1962, and 1984) and interracial romance Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Forty years of Hollywood fantasies of interracial harmony, from The Defiant Ones and In the Heat of the Night through the Lethal Weapon series and Men in Black are examined. This work in the sociology of knowledge and cultural studies relates the movies of Hollywood to the large political agendas on race relation in the United States. Screen Saviors appeals to the general reader interested in the movies or in race and ethnicity as well as to students of com

38 review for Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This is a helpful introduction to analyzing the portrayal of whiteness in American film. The level of scholarship (one author is film scholar, the other is sociologist) is impressive given its accessibility.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John Poth

    Textbook style review of the influence film media has on society and the reflection of the prevailing norms on that society.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    3.5/5

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    The problem here is that the authors can't seem to make up their minds on many (most) films discussed. "On the one hand, this film is anti-racist, on the other, it's so racist!"...or: "This film is racist, and this one, and so is this one, and that one, and they are all racist! Even the ones that aren't are!"over and over and over. I don't deny that institutionalized forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, etc etc pervade pretty much everything in pop culture, but come on. The problem here is that the authors can't seem to make up their minds on many (most) films discussed. "On the one hand, this film is anti-racist, on the other, it's so racist!"...or: "This film is racist, and this one, and so is this one, and that one, and they are all racist! Even the ones that aren't are!"over and over and over. I don't deny that institutionalized forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, etc etc pervade pretty much everything in pop culture, but come on. It is fine to provide in-depth (and often very smart) critiques of film, but when the authors can't come up with one example of what a truly anti-racist film is (or might look like, if there honestly aren't any credible examples), ultimately their arguments become meaningless and self-congratulatory. I ended the book with a "Uh huh; I hear you. But.... so ....?" feeling.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    A very interesting take on whiteness and race in movies. I think some of the arguments are a very far fetched. In addition, the authors annoyed me a lot by constantly making statements on behalf of white America (I don't recall giving them my opinion or proxy to do so). The authors also state several times throughout the book that people in other countries (and in ours as well) believe in the depictions of the people that they see in the movies. They say that many people who immigrate here have A very interesting take on whiteness and race in movies. I think some of the arguments are a very far fetched. In addition, the authors annoyed me a lot by constantly making statements on behalf of white America (I don't recall giving them my opinion or proxy to do so). The authors also state several times throughout the book that people in other countries (and in ours as well) believe in the depictions of the people that they see in the movies. They say that many people who immigrate here have a poor opinion of African Americans based on what they see in movies. This is sad. It's a movie. Fiction. Make believe. Those easily influenced people need to learn to think for themselves and realize that movies are only for entertainment purposes.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mell

    I think this would better suit someone newer to the critical examination of movies regarding race/racism. But I do like that this book tackles so called "positive" images/movies that many liberal folks would say have "good" messages against racism. (Example: Glory, where the white commanders of black troops get the most heroic treatment.) I think this would better suit someone newer to the critical examination of movies regarding race/racism. But I do like that this book tackles so called "positive" images/movies that many liberal folks would say have "good" messages against racism. (Example: Glory, where the white commanders of black troops get the most heroic treatment.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Todd

  8. 5 out of 5

    LPenting

  9. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

  10. 5 out of 5

    Simone

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn Routh

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jules

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jade Ashli Soisson-Thayer

  15. 4 out of 5

    guermo

  16. 5 out of 5

    Arlee

  17. 5 out of 5

    Vikki

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  19. 5 out of 5

    augend

  20. 5 out of 5

    Angel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sonicage

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nikhil P. Freeman

  24. 4 out of 5

    Korri

  25. 5 out of 5

    Caterina Fava

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kapil Jain

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  29. 5 out of 5

    Clayborn

  30. 4 out of 5

    David Kong

  31. 4 out of 5

    Adam DJ Brett

  32. 5 out of 5

    VirgĂ­nia Brito

  33. 4 out of 5

    Shanna

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  35. 4 out of 5

    Detrick DeBurr

  36. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

  37. 4 out of 5

    Allen Lehman

  38. 4 out of 5

    D3NOVO

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