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October 1994


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 31 Oct 1994 08:59:10 -0600
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Gloria Monti writes in response:
"1--I'm not sure what other paradigm exists, since whites have defined
> the terms for race and racialism for centuries.
        I couldn't agree with you more.  So, isn't that time that these
paradigms are challenged?
Obviously, one can
> imagine many multi-racial contexts for various combinations, but how many
> of them are actually depicted in American films--and only as a relationship
> and not an issue.
        So, it is time that we change the cinematic paradigms as well.
To begin with: avoiding compiling lists of films where interracial
relationships do *not* constitute an issue, for example.
        Let's look at films such as *Mississippi Masala* rather than
*Bodyguard.* "
Again, as a general point I agree with you.  The very notion of race is
suspect as anything *but* a cultural definition.  The question is who gets
to do the defining.
While I agree that it's time to move on to other paradigms, that time has
existed for centuries and a lot of people have been aware that it's time
for the past few decades.  Yet, although there has been a fair amount of
paradigm-shifting in various contexts, we still have to deal--in one way
or another--with the dominant paradigm and its history.
I can't speak for the person who first posted the request for films in which
interracial relationships are not an issue, but on reflection it strikes
me that--for the time being, at least--such relationships are noteworthy
*because* race is not supposedly an issue.  In other words, the cultural
subtext will always make it an issue.  By pointing at a film and saying,
"Look, race is not an issue here," one has *made* it an issue.  It's rather
like Sherlock Holmes and the dog: The curious thing, says Holmes, is the
dog barking in the night.  But the dog didn't bark, says Watson.  That, says
Holmes, is the curious thing.
Someone recently posted Thurgood Marshall's statement that there was always
someone to remind him, even as a Supreme Court justice, that he was still
a "nigger."  We only need to look at the uproar over the book on blacks and
IQ to see how saturated with poison the racial discourse remains.
I've gone on too long, as usual :-).
It might be fruitful to hear from the person who initiated this whole thread.
--Don Larsson, Mankato State U., MN