Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness

Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness

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by Hernan Vera, Andrew M. Gordon, Vera Hernn
     
 

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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,

Overview

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 communication, American studies, critical white studies, American film, cultural studies, and the sociology of race relations.

Editorial Reviews

Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Provocative book. There's plenty to enjoy.
Daniel Bernardi
This book reveals the diverse, often disturbing ways in which movies manufacture the 'white self'—the image and story of whiteness articulated by white filmmakers. Avoiding polemical posturing and relying upon historical analysis, the authors provide us with an insightful project that is written with clarity and care.
Joe R. Feagin
A pioneering and highly original book. From Birth of a Nation to the latest Hollywood films, Vera and Gordon describe and critically analyze Hollywood movies made by dozens of different white directors, producers, and writers, people with different imaginations and styles. Yet virtually all the movies they have made fit the same mold of not challenging white privilege.
Contemporary Sociology
A valuable addition to the growing scholarship of hegemonic whiteness in America.
Rockford Register Star
If you want to explore a colorful, controversial side of film lore, check out Screen Saviors. At the very least, it'll make you think about what you are watching.
CHOICE
The study cuts through 84 years of films with many specific and accurate analyses. It will give instructors a new perspective and students tough questions to ask in many classes. Recommended.
Robert Elliot Fox
Through a careful, detailed examination of an impressive number of significant American films, the authors vividly demonstrate the extent to which notions of white supremacy assert themselves, often unconsciously, even in works in which a liberal, ostensibly anti-racist viewpoint dominates. Screen Saviors is an important contribution to cinema studies and to the growing body of scholarship devoted to the study of white identity.
Beaches Leader
Analyzes the images of white protagonists interacting with people of another race or ethnicity in American movies from 1915's 'Birth of a Nation' to 'Black Hawk Down' in 2001. This book reveals the diverse, often disturbing ways in which movies manufacture the 'white self,' the image and the story of whiteness articulated by white film makers.
Choice
The study cuts through 84 years of films with many specific and accurate analyses. It will give instructors a new perspective and students tough questions to ask in many classes. Recommended.
Film & History
Provocative book. There's plenty to enjoy.
Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Provocative book. There's plenty to enjoy.
Joe Feagin
A pioneering and highly original book. From Birth of a Nation to the latest Hollywood films, Vera and Gordon describe and critically analyze Hollywood movies made by dozens of different white directors, producers, and writers, people with different imaginations and styles. Yet virtually all the movies they have made fit the same mold of not challenging white privilege.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780847699469
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
01/21/2003
Edition description:
2ND
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
7.14(w) x 10.34(h) x 0.66(d)

Meet the Author

Hernán Vera is professor of sociology at the University of Florida and an author of several books on race relations. Andrew M. Gordon is associate professor of English at the University of Florida and a film critic.

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Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors have written a highly useful, well-supported and egnagingly written book on some of America's most seminal films of the 60s,70s,80s and 90s. Film buffs will find their observations useful and enlightening. Their discussion of the 'Lethal Weapon' series is thought-provoking. Definitely worth the time.