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The White Savior Film and Reviewers' Reception

Matthew W. Hughey
Symbolic Interaction
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Summer 2010), pp. 475-496
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction
DOI: 10.1525/si.2010.33.3.475
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/si.2010.33.3.475
Page Count: 22
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The White Savior Film and Reviewers' Reception
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Abstract

This article documents the collective interpretations of film reviewers, a position typically associated with individual aesthetic judgment rather than socially shared scripts of explanation. Drawing on the reviews of a feature film with implicit racial content, produced in the context of a supposedly "color-blind" era, this article documents how reviewers constitute a racialized interpretive community. Reviewers rely on specific cultural frameworks to both contest and reproduce the notion of a "post-racial" society. These interpretations equate nonwhites with pathological and dysfunctional traits, frame hard work as a white normative characteristic, and construct deterministic views of both Hollywood's ability to represent progressive racial representations and the educational system's potential. This analysis illustrates how film reviews operate as mediating voices between producer and consumer, and in so doing, the interpretations of the film serve as "common-sensed" mappings of the contested terrain of contemporary race relations.

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