Race in the action film

Lisa Purse

in Contemporary Action Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748638178
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670857 | DOI:
Race in the action film

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This chapter argues that the contemporary action film evidences the persistence of traditional racial hierarchies and racial stereotypes, with the ethnicity of the action hero still frequently ‘defaulting’ to Anglo-American while non-white and non-Anglo characters remain on the sidelines, only permitted to be active and heroic in the context of a larger group. The chapter then investigates the representational negotiations that take place when a nonwhite person takes on the role of action hero, using I, Robot and Avatar to analyse how notions of otherness become redirected, before considering how whiteness operates as a structuring concept in the action movie's representational hierarchy, both as a dominant category and as a locus of fear, using xXx as an example.

Keywords: Whiteness; Race; Ethnicity; Racial hierarchy; Representation; Anglo-American; Latino; African-American

Chapter.  8762 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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