Monday, July 6, 2009

Minority Retort

So, aside from wanting to use the clever pun in the title, I do actually have a plan for this post. I've been watching a lot of horror lately (as always), and I got to thinking about the amount of minorities that die in horror movies. They really don't last that long, especially the black people. And why is that? Is it because of good old fashioned racism?

Pictured above: Racism.

Well, it probably is racism that drives it. Or it was, and now it's just become the thing to do. But there have been many movies that have shed that racism. Take for instance the original Night of the Living Dead that I have pictured above. In that movie the Ben lives until the end. And then gets shot. By racist rednecks.

Okay, bad example.

But NOTLD did bring race to the front with a powerful message. A message that rang so true, today minorities are still getting killed off in horror. Damn, did we learn anything?

Now, I'm not trying to solve any of the race problems in horror movies, nor am I going to try to pinpoint exactly where they came from and why they persist, but I am going to say that I love seeing a minority live through a horror movie. It's nice to see that some movies eschew the tradition. Examples:

Who survived?: The Jewish guy.
How big of a step forward?: Ehhh, he's not really a super stereotype, but definitely Jewish. It's not a huge step forward, but at least we see the minority live.

Deep Blue Sea
Who survived?: Ladies Love Cool James (or LL Cool J to those not in the know)
How big of a step forward?: Initially, I would say a huge step forward because he is a pretty big stereotype. But the same movie also killed Samuel L. Jackson and Stellan Skarsgard earlier. But 1 out of 3 is a lot better than most movies.

The Grudge
Who survived?: Actually, this time, Sarah Michelle Gellar dies. Bear with me on this...
How big of a step forward?: So this time, we get to see Gellar as the minority white person in Japan, therefore it's pretty huge because the white person dies instead of the Japanese (well some of them too). But in our aryan eyes, she's the norm. It's a big step forward to feature the white person in an American horror as the minority. However, she still dies, so not a really big step forward.

Who survived?: Paxton, played by Jay Hernandez
How big of a step forward?: While he is pretty Americanized, he's still latino looking, so that's a huge plus. And to top it off, he not only survives, but gets back at a bad guy. Of course, he's killed off right away in Hostel II, but that's not the movie I'm talking about! It is a continuation of the same story though, and I guess that means he dies. Hmmm, methinks I need a different movie.

Tales from the Hood
Who survived?: A lot of black people
How big of a step forward?: Black people survive this movie in droves. On the other hand, black people make up most of the cast. And we see some white cops get killed. And some other white people. So in reality, the black people are the majority and the whites are the minority. And a lot of whites die. So while black people survive, they aren't the minority. This is getting harder and harder...

Really, I can't come up with any movies that have thrown off the stats of minorities dying in horror. There are glimpses, but most of them are either very white acting minorities or a movie nearly entirely populated with minorities (in which case they cease to be minorities). I guess the one thing that can give solace to the minorities in horror out there is that there are a lot of white people dying in all of these movies as well. While minorities have a lower percentage of survival, the sheer number or white people that are killed outweigh the minorities by approximately tenfold. Can anyone come up with a movie that effectively throws the notion of being a minority is a death sentence?

1 comment:

  1. Well, in the original Dawn of the Dead, the black guy (Peter) survives, while two other main characters (who were white) turned into zombies. I think that throws the notion of being a minority is a death sentence, if you forget about the minorities that died early in the movie.

    I'm a minority myself (I'm Latino), and I'm angry that minorities hardly appear in American horror movies at all as main/major characters, let alone the fact that the ones that do almost always dies.

    I think that if there are more minorities in a movie than white people, then the minorities are still minorities. They may not be minorities in the movie, but in real life they are.