Hollywood: Race and Sex
Hollywood’s representations of sex and race have always been problematic, from the Black would-be rapists in Birth of a Nation (1915) to the emasculated Asian nerds in Sixteen Candles (1984). And while we all know (and perhaps expect) that Shaft was the “sex machine to all the chicks,” why have racialized sexual stereotypes like these survived so long in Hollywood? From Anna May Wong to J. Lo, from tragic mulattoes to Oriental despots, from Indian chiefs to promiscuous border women, we’ll explore the historical dimensions of these racial and sexual stereotypes. We’ll also investigate female and male, straight and queer sexuality in Black, Chican@/Latin@, Asian American, and Native American film portrayals. And we’ll especially look at the depth of Hollywood’s anxiety over interracial relationships. This course is intensive in both writing and viewing, including weekly screenings, short papers, and an in-class presentation, but there is no final exam. No prior knowledge of film is necessary, though certainly helpful.