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The color of love on the big screen: the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in Hollywood films from 1967-2005

University of Florida Institutional Repository
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PAGE 1

THE COLOR OF LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN: THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD FILMS IN INTERRACIAL RELATI ONSHIPS FROM 1967 TO 2005 By NADIA A. RAMOUTAR A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2006

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Copyright 2006 By Nadia A. Ramoutar

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To my parents, Chad Ramoutar and Gloria Jean Ramoutar For your courage to love outside the color lines To William, Dorothy, Jean, Helga, Eve and Aaron for our journey to belonging To my son, Devin and all our children, May you be free to love as your heart desires.

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iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The guidance, wisdom and insights of Dr. L ynda Lee Kaid have helped me in ways beyond this mere document and research. He r vast experience as a researcher and academic scholar were of incredible value to me as she generously guided me each step of the way. Her promptness and compassion in everyday decision making and research design supported me beyond compare. She is a role model for me in my career as educator and researcher. Another role model and brilliant wome n, Dr. Helena Srki, inspired and encouraged me to make this research count She was there for me at every turn, prompting me to a standard of intelligence I could not have attempted alone, offering not just her wisdom but also her exuberant friendship and support. She motivated me to delve further into race and gender studies knowi ng all the while it mattered profoundly. I am forever grateful to Helena for her guidance and encouragement. I would also like to thank my other co mmittee members, Dr. Mark Reid and Dr. Bernell Tripp. As a scholar in Black Film, Dr. Reid's teaching and research gave me the background and skills to question every fram e of film I watched and every word of dialogue I heard. He prompted me to expand the scope of my study in significant ways. For her rigorous and knowledgeable role, Dr. Bernell Tripp moved me to question my motives and my methods which resulted in better research designs Her knowledge of mass Media history gave me a strong founda tion for my research. I also thank Danny Shipka for his constant companionship in this program and undying support in my

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v research and well being. I would like to tha nk Monica Postelnicu and Hyun Yun for their knowledge, assistance and friendship. Also, I thank Sherry Gilmor e for her technical support, encouragement and timely assistance. This journey would not have been possible without my amazing support team at Flagler College. I thank the Delphi Panel of Jim Gilmore, Jim Picket, Tracy Halcomb and Danny Shipka for guidance and wisdom. I also want to thank the devoted students who supported me and assisted with my research. I greatly appreciate the support from Dean Paula Miller and Chair Tracy Halcomb and thank them for making the impossible possible all the way from the application to th e defense. No project as large is ever possible without some very serious support t eams at many levels. I would like to thank the people who believed in me and encouraged me to complete this dissertation with such dignity: Arlene Blain, Holley Hackett, Da rragh Ramoutar, Elizabeth Claire, Rachel Thompson, Laura Mongiovi, Joe Vlah a nd Dianne Tymmeson. I thank Kathe O’Donnelly for her constant ca re and vigilance. I also thank Kenny Hamilton for his infinite patience, humor and insights often at the toughest parts of the journey. I thank Devin Reardon for making it all worthwhile. I could never have done this without all of your support and love. I finally have to express a deep appr eciation to the media scholars who paved the way and inspired me to care and the students who are yet to arrive.

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vi PREFACE In writing this dissertation, which include s a qualitative and a quantitative research method to explore and analyze the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film from 1967 – 2005, it is important to establis h my research interest and personal relationship to the topic. In 1967, the year the study sample begins my mother was pregnant with me. A tall, blonde, green-ey ed woman in Dublin, Ireland, my mother was married to a short dark Indian man from Trinidad. Such an ethnic blending in Ireland or anywhere at that time (and some would argue even now) was unusual. After being raised in Ireland, I immigrated to Am erica with my parents as a teenager. Immediately upon arriving here I experienced pred ictable culture shock but not fo r the reasons I expected. I found the treatment of American women in society and in the media to be sexualized and patronizing in a more extreme way than European women. The segregation of races among Americans in society and the media was al so very obvious to me. I had expected to see many more blended-race people like myself but soon realized that American homes and churches were profoundly segregated. When I entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Florida I was 34-years-old and a very different person than when I gra duated from UF the firs t time at 21-years of age. In a time of growing multiculturalism in the United States, race relations deserve a closer look. In my specialty of race and gender studies in film I strive to make a significant contribution to the voiceless: the women and men w ho dare to love or venture

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vii outside the color line of love in America. My intent is to pave the way for future research in a rarely valued realm.

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viii TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS...............................................................................................iv PREFACE........................................................................................................................ ..vi LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................xi ABSTRACT......................................................................................................................x ii CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................1 The Influence of Film Portrayals..................................................................................4 Theoretical Perspectives.............................................................................................22 The Film Feminist Paradigm...............................................................................22 Cultural Studies...................................................................................................24 Social Construction of Reality Theory................................................................26 Cultivation Theory...............................................................................................30 Research Questions:............................................................................................32 2 METHODS.................................................................................................................34 Triangulation: Using A Quantitative Method And A Qualitative Method................34 Multiple Methods as “Crystalliza tion,” Not Merely Triangulation.....................37 Framing analysis.........................................................................................................40 Creating the Framing Analysis............................................................................43 Delphi Panel........................................................................................................43 The Films in the Sample......................................................................................44 Coding Procedures...............................................................................................47 Conducting the Framing Analysis.......................................................................48 3 THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN FILM........................................................................................................................... 51 Womanhood in the Sample Films...............................................................................51 The White Woman as Flaw ed and/or Fragile......................................................51 The Portrayal of White Wo men with Hispanic Men...........................................58 The Portrayal of White Women and Black Men.................................................62

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ix White Women as Insignificant............................................................................68 All’s “Fair” In Love and War: The Hi erarchy of Skin Tone in the Portrayal of Women of Color..........................................................................................71 Dark Skinned, Dark Natured Femme Fatale.......................................................73 The Portrayal of Hispanic Women in Interracial Relationships: Late Comers..76 Amerindian Women............................................................................................77 Asian Women in Interracial Relationships..........................................................78 Love You to Death: Interracial Rela tionships on the big screen exist in a Violent and Conflicted World..........................................................................80 “Gender Benders”: Women in Interraci al Relationships Failure to be the Traditional Female...........................................................................................85 The "Super-Model" Minority: Women of Color as Exotic, Erotic, and Exceptional; Men of Color as the Perfect Gentleman.....................................90 Model Minority Males: The Perfect Gentlemen................................................93 The Mary Magdalene Frame: Unwort hy Women Who Distract Men from their Mission in Life.........................................................................................95 The White Male Fantasy: Skin, sex, s ubservience and Saving the Damsel in Distress.............................................................................................................98 4 COMPARING AND CONTRASTING THE CONTENT.......................................112 Content Analysis.......................................................................................................112 Research Questions...........................................................................................112 Identifying the Content Analysis Sample..........................................................113 Defining the Coding Categories........................................................................113 Outlining the Coding Process, Training the Coders, and Calculating Reliability.......................................................................................................115 Implementing the Coding Process.....................................................................116 Findings.............................................................................................................116 Results.......................................................................................................................1 17 Age and Gender.................................................................................................117 Role of the Woman in the Film.........................................................................118 The Portrayal of Race and Gender....................................................................119 Gender Attributes of Women and Men.............................................................121 Occupations and Skills of the Women..............................................................123 Perception of the Women in Interracial Relationships......................................126 5 REFLECTIONS ON THE CONSTRUCTI ON OF INTERRACIAL SEX OR LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN................................................................................137 Implications of the Film Study Research..................................................................137 Contributions and Relevance to Theory...................................................................140 The Film Feminist Paradigm.............................................................................140 Cultural Studies.................................................................................................141 Social Construction of Reality Theory..............................................................142 Cultivation Theory.............................................................................................143

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x Directions for Future Research and Limitations of the Study..................................143 Conclusion................................................................................................................148 APPENDIX A CONTENT ANALYSIS CODING SHEET.............................................................157 B MOVIES FROM 1967 – 2005 IN TOP 15 BOX OFFICE SALESWITH AN INTERRACIAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP............................181 REFERENCES................................................................................................................185 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH...........................................................................................192

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xi LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 Frequency of Race by Gender................................................................................119 2 Skills Women Exhibit............................................................................................125 3 Ultimate Values of Men and Women.....................................................................127 4 Challenges Facing the Interr acial Relationship Couple.........................................131 5 Decision-Maker in the Relationship Outcome.......................................................132 6 Outcome of the Inte rracial Relationship................................................................133

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xii Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE COLOR OF LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN: THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD FILMS IN INTERACIAL RELATIONSHIPS FROM 1967 TO 2005. By Nadia A. Ramoutar May 2006 Chair: Lynda Lee Kaid Major Department: Mass Communication What is the color of love on the big scr een? It appears that Hollywood’s favorite color is still green, but race di fferences are used strategicall y in film. The purpose of this study is to explore the portra yal of women in interracial relationships in blockbuster Hollywood films from 1967 – 2005. Previous research indicates that women are portrayed in film as underrepr esented, sexualized and insign ificant in comparison to the portrayal of men in the same film. Although studies have been done on women in film, no extensive study has been done on interracial relationships in popular Hollywood film. The intent of this study was ambitiously to examine the role of se x, gender, and race as factors in the interaction between men and women in interracial relationships. The researcher also examined the changes of portrayal in the films under study over four decades. The study was conducted using fram ing analysis, a qualitative method and content analysis, a quantitative method. The fi ndings of the framing analysis were used to create the categories of the content analys is. The sample of films studied included top

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xiii 15 box office hits for each year from 1967 – 2005, which had an interracial sexual or physical relationship in the film. The final sample included only 36 films for study out of 540 possible films. The findings indicate that interracial relati onships are rarely shown in popular films but when they are shown they are portrayed as probl ematic, conflicted and sexualized. An interracial relationship in th e films under study was as likely to end with the man or woman dead, as with a commitment Most interracial relationships involve a white man and an Asian woman. All wome n are stereotypically portrayed as young, socially vulnerable, over-se xualized and living in a viol ent world. The women are usually portrayed as supporting or minor charact ers. The interracial relationship is shown as usually being sexualized, short-lived and insi gnificant to the plot. There are trends of portrayal of different races in different decades. Some races are rarely portrayed, while other races are frequently shown. Gender is impacted by race in the portrayal in interracial relationships in films.

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1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Examining the mass media portrayal of wo men in interracial relationships as represented in commercially successful film marks the gender and racial differences of social constructs of power structures. Studying the way Ca ucasian women are portrayed in interracial romantic and/or sexual relati onships compared to the way Women of Color are portrayed creates an opportuni ty to explore the color code of love in a mass medium and, therefore, public sphere. The study also seeks to compare the way Caucasian men and Men of Color are portraye d in the films under study comp ared to the way the women are portrayed. By studying the way race intera ction in sexual and romantic relationships are portrayed we attain a greater insight in to America social unde rstanding of race and gender as constructs interdependently. There have been many studies done on issu es of race and on issues of gender in film, but very few studies if any, look at the interaction of race and gender through the lens or romantic or sexual relationships. In this study, therefore, the film industry's portrayal of ethnicity and gender over time from 1977 to 2005 is explored through that lens of the interracial relationship and its portr ayal of women. The primary goal of this research is to raise awareness of the lim ited and problematic nature of Hollywood’s portrayal of women in interr acial relationships that may reinforce myths about gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. This research also suggests that raci al, ethnic, gender, and sexual identity in American mainstream film cannot be studied without considering each category's interdependence and influence on each other. It also examines the concept that

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2 there is no “woman’s” experience to be portray ed in film, as issues of race and sex clearly impact that portrayal on the big screen. Thus, an objective of this re search is to discover a nd contrast constructs of womanhood according to race and gender creat ed by Hollywood films in interracial relationships. Are relationships portrayed as important to these women? Are women of color and white women portrayed the same way in interracial relationships? What impact does the racial or ethnic identity of the ma le or female have on the portrayal of the relationship? Have these por trayals changed since the U.S. Supreme court deemed antimiscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967? Created in a white male dominated industry, do women in the films under study appear to have control over their life or their relationship? This research addresses a conc ern of film feminism which recognizes that race and ethnicity are important factors in the portrayal of women in film that have been traditionally ignored in academic and commercial facets. The research also explores the portra yal of women in sexual or romantic relationships with the understa nding that social and political values are constructs of “reality” and that certain behaviors are "norma lized". Audience members often look to the mass media to define what is important a nd what is to be desired or even avoided. Although most people know that the primary pur pose of the film indus try is to entertain, it is also intended to do so in a profitable way. One of the ways in which Hollywood entertains is to offer a mythical version of reality that excites; intrigues and sometimes exploits the audience. There are many myths that media creates about life, who to love and how to love them This research scrutinizes the overt and covert ways in which cultural transmission around segregation in norma l love operates and is portrayed in the

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3 media. The portrayal of interracial relati onships is uncommon in American mass media. The portrayal of women in inte rracial relationships that are healthy and well-balanced is almost non-existent. It is impossible to study this portrayal w ithout considering the history of race and gender issues in America which rather th an a harmonious melting pot, have been problematic. Since its birth, the United Stat es has been an enormous blend of people from a variety of racial backgrounds. This research seeks to understand why some genders and races are portrayed as more favorab le than others and how the interaction of people from unlike races is portrayed within heterosexual relationships in film. The culmination of generations of oppression in th e United States history involved significant Civil Right's and Women’s Movement effo rts in the 1960s and 1970s. Although these efforts did improve the experience of women an d people of color in this country, issues of equity still linger. This study explores if the mass media portray genders and people of color as equitable in the d ecades following the Civil Right’s and Women’s Movement in America. Would choosing a romantic or sexua l partner outside of her racial group place a women in a higher or lower position or stat us in society on the big screen? The secondwave feminist movement has been heavily criticized for addressing the "women's" experience as universal. This research breaks down the portrayal of women of different racial categories and compares and contrasts their portrayal in popula r film. The research ambitiously seeks to use two research methods and extensive vari ables of gender, race, and sexuality which creates a unique opportunity to see that a woman in a relation ship is impacted not only by her race but by the race of the partner with which she is a ffiliated. There is a hierarchy

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4 in gender and in race that can be identif ied only after carefully and systematically breaking down the portrayal of women in film into great detail and analyzing its meaning for a much greater impact. The Influence of Film Portrayals Popular film does more than entertain. Hollywood films also serve as a powerful means to transmit culture from one generation to the next in a soci ety. Film is a powerful medium and is one of the top th ree exports from the United States to the rest of the world (Kamalipour, 2006). Characterization in film is “a useful like of inquiry into media messages. Characters can be considered th e embodiments of ideological positions based upon whose interests they represent”. (Silver blatt & Zlobin, 2004, p. 85) Much research has been done to show that Hollywood and th e creation of popular film is a white man’s world where Caucasian men are clearly at the top of the power structure (Eschholz et al., 2002, Grinner, 2004). American films are created in this distributi on of power, within a capitalistic system that is competitive and profit-driven (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 301). The current media ownership trend in the wo rld is one of a tran snational corporation which creates an oligopoly. Cultural imperialism exists no t merely between nations but between ethnic groups within a nation and globally (Kamalipour, 2006; Kellner, 2003). Society operates on a social order and th is order is maintained through formula narrative films (Grinner, 2004). Unless peopl e have personal contact with people of another ethnicity or race or culture, ou r views are colored by national stereotypes depicted in the media (Silverblatt & Zlbin, 2004). The film industry did not always reflect such a homogenized portrayal of soci ety nor was the film industry dominated by white males originally. The film industry in America originally involved many significant women and minorities as directors, writers, a nd producers (Slide, 1998, p. vii). It is no

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5 secret that Hollywood is still one of the most powerfully white male dominated industries in America and American film dominates in a global media economy (Slide, 1998; Eschholz et al., 2002; Kaplan, 1987) Most research of film feminist scholars conducted since the 1970s indicates that women in film history have been mostly defined through male definition. Women and people of color are habitually portrayed through the lens by men who have never experienced the reality of a woman or a person of color. Do women of any color and men of color receive more than a stereotypical portrayal in such a media economy? This study explores that very question. Hollywood and the creation of popular film has evolved over the years into an industry that treats the crea tion of film like any other commodity that can be sold or exported (Kamalipour, 2006). This was not alwa ys the case. The early film making days included many white women in directing and producing roles and st ory lines presented women as multifaceted members of society. When the studio system began in Hollywood in 1911, women began to lose power and the studio system systematically moved to a formulaic approach to film maki ng which still exists today (Campbell et al., 2006). Some women who made it into histor y books usually did so because of her on screen presence, while some with technical or leadership skills of other women were overlooked and written out and simply put “in the 1920s women were left behind because they weren’t wanted” (Slide, 1998, p. 163). Despite the success of a few female di rectors and producers, the Hollywood set remains a segregated and heavily guarded elite group limited by gender, class and race. Digital technology may offer some hope for ne wcomers entering the film arena, but the mass media dominance of specific media co rporate giants produces an oligopoly in

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6 distribution that creates a "blockbuster" formula approach to mass movie scripts (Campbell et al., 2005). If American cor porate filmmaking serves as the Nation's "storyteller" it also serves to reinforce a nd distinguish between what is normal and abnormal, desired and undesired and what is morally "the boundary between what is permitted and the forbidden" (Campbell et al., 2005, p. 230). In the portrayal of interracial relationships in popul ar film is the "forbidden fruit" of a romantic or sexual partner from another race used as a ploy to increase conflict and sexual intrigue on the big screen? Has such a portra yal changed over four decades to reflect social progress in society’s integration? Why study interracial relationships in mass media portrayal? The study of mass media portrayal reflects the va lues and power structure of the society in which it is generated and distributed. In White, film scholar Richard Dyer (1988) points out that: “Power in contemporary society habitually pa sses itself off as embodied in the normal as opposed to the superior. This is common to all forms of power, but it works in a peculiarly seductive way with whiteness, because of the way it seems rooted, in commonsense thought, in things ot her than ethic difference” (p. 44). The other reason to examine interracial relationships is that it makes it possible to study the phenomena of “whiteness” as being everyt hing and nothing at the same time. In comparison, in Black Film as a Signifying Practice Gladstone L. Yearwood (2000) says: “For many people . blackness is less a color than a meta phor for political circumstances prescribed by struggles against economic exploitati on and cultural domination: a state of consciousness that peoples of various pigmen tations have experien ced, empathized with, and responded to” (p.5). When it comes to race, gender and sexuality, power is a very

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7 important aspect to study in the portrayal of women in inte rracial relationship. Sex is often used to show who has power and who does not in the narrative film. The person with the sexual appeal is more powerful than the person without sexual appeal. The person who selects the woman with sexual appeal shows his or her power over the situation. Who controls the pow er in the relationship and th e outcome of the relationship is heavily scrutinized in this study. By studying the portrayal of power and positive or negative traits of the interra cial relationship we are able to go beyond the surface of the meaning and take a closer reading of what the narrative is sa ying about interracial relationships. Merely looking at a popular film does not always make messages about politically sensitive subjects, like race or gender equit y, clear but rather blurs it. Blurring the significance of race and gender is a Hollywood special effect that disguises where the true power lies. Making sure that racial and gender inequality are kept “secret” seems to be a major motivator in mainstream American film (Haskell, 1987). According to Molly Haskell (1987) in From Reverence to Rape: The Trea tment of Women in the Movies, keeping this secret is key to social order: “The big lie perpetrated on Western society is the idea of women’s inferiority, a lie so deep ly ingrained in our so cial behavior that merely to recognize it is to ri sk unraveling the entire fabri cation of civilization” (p. 1). Society reflects a social orde r and the media are often used to reinforce those social values or beliefs so that examining a narrative plot can “furnish insi ght into the cultural sensibility of a culture” (Silverblatt & Zlobin, 2 004). Such a portrayal is often subtle as the hegemony in a democracy does not force members of a society to comply by brute force. Its power on the behavior of memb ers is much more subtle and often so

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8 normalized that it is invisibl e to the average viewer. As Holtzman (2000) points out, most people operate as if what is normal or “natur al cannot be controlled socially…If we are convinced that something is natural we are also more likely to believe that it is legitimate, permanent and unchangeable” (p. 300). The f ilm industry like most other oligopolies, does not force Western Society to accept its reality. Holtzman further explains that the power in society is reinforced rather than forced: Hegemony, as you may recall, allows those in power to rule by consent rather than force…Entertainment media, along with religion and education, is one of the institutions that reinforces our sense of what is considered normal. This “normalcy” typically reflects the belief s or ideology of the dominant culture. (Holtzman, 2000, p. 300) Holtzman's points are very significant in this study because women exist in a social structure in which they participate without force. Women who app ear "sexualized" often self-elect to appear this way because they, too, believe it is normal. John Berger (1977) in Ways of Seeing makes the point that if the sexualization of a woman, for example, if a nude image were replaced with a man we w ould clearly notice "the violence which the transformation" had created (p. 64). The sexualization of women as objects in our society is so normalized in our mass media th at it is hard for viewers to identify the violence Berger describes. This study explor es the role of violence in the portrayal of women in the films under study. Examples of film violence are often presented in the narrative as so common or normal to the expe rience of being a woman that they almost go unnoticed. This study uses quantitative and qualitative methods to explore how prevalent violence is in a f ilm world of interracial rela tionships. Are interracial relationships portrayed as ex isting in a violent world? Film is a powerful medium and socialization tool in American culture for several reasons and is considered the major art form of these times. Film allows us to see that

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9 hegemonic social order is maintained as Hollywood movies follow a formula which uses the “order, disorder, and restoration of or der” formula of the narrative film (Grinner, 2004, p.199). Linda Holtzman (2000) concludes: “the study of entertainment media and race is complex…Still further there is complex ity within each racial group” (p. 209). The proposed research seeks to explore this comple xity. Issues of race and gender provide a challenge to research because this “complexity” indicates that much of what is first seen is not necessarily reflective of what exists below the surface. It is as if sexism and racism in Western society are veiled in secrecy or even denial, especially from those creating and enforcing the limitations. In White Privilege: The Invisible Knapsack Peggy McIntosh points out that “whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male priv ilege” (1990, p. 31). Exposing the oblivious nature of white/male advantage in society cr eates the goal of raising our consciousness “to seek to reconstruct power systems on a broader base currently very narrow” (McIntosh, 1990, p. 32). According to Holtzman (2000), racism is so covertly portrayed th at it is often hard for people in America to identify it compared to the overt Jim Crow laws of the past. Viewing older films in which the minstrel faced black person is mocked and vilified by white film makers like in Birth of a Nation makes identifying negative portrayal blatant and almost impossible to miss for audiences now But the portrayal in popular films now does not offer such a racial signpost as th e minstrel faced black person, though when closely examined other key signposts about racial order do exist. Why should this matter? Today, the media have “assumed a vital role in the transmission of cultural myths” (Silverblatt & Zlobin, 2004, p. 67). Media misinformation about race impacts

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10 people of color and white peopl e in different ways. White pe ople in the United States are socialized to see their race not simply as dominant, but as the norm, the standard for behavior, and the benchmar k for what it means to be American (Denzin, 2002). According to Norman Denzin (2002) in Reading Race, “ A majority of Americans know and understand the American racial or der through the mass media. Accordingly, those who control the media, including cinema and television, shape and define a society’s discourse about race and race relatio ns” (p.2). Interracial relationships in American culture are uncommon compared to same–race relationships but also address issues of power in the “conf licted sexual political arena of desire” (L ester et al., 2005, p.137). The study of women in interracial re lationships is often studied only in its context to men in interracial relationships. For example, according to Gail Dines (2003) in King Kong and the White Woman: Hustler Magazine and the Demonization of Black Masculinity “from the box offices success of Birth of a Nation in 1915 to the National obsession with O.J. Simpson, the image of the Black man as the spoiler of White womanhood has been a staple of media repr esentation in this country” (p. 451). Another interesting aspect of studying the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film is that the racial profile of male and female change the perception of the relationship. For example, the portrayal of the white-female, black-male coupling and the portrayal of white-female and Asian-male ar e seen as a threat to patriarchy, while the portrayal of Asian-female and white-male is portrayed in a positive way in Western media (Sun, 2003, p. 657). According to C hyng Feng Sun (2003), “the pairing of a white male and Oriental female is naturalized and has its colonialis t root, manifested in the ‘rescue’ narrative. In f ilms with non-white women it beco mes apparent that the role

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11 of colonization and “the West’s dominance is secured through narratives of romance and sexuality that justify white ma n’s possession of the bodies of wo men of color” (p. 6). In the portrayal of women in film, in issues of sexuality, race, and et hnicity, are all women created equally? This study explores how race is used as a variable in the portrayal of gender in popular film. It is impossible to study the media of a cu lture without consider ing the historical impact of the culture in which the media produ ct is created or consumed. According to cultural critic Toni Cade Bambara (1996), a hi story of colonization pl ays a major role in race and gender politics in American media: The creative imagination has been colonized. The global screen has been colonized and the audience – readers and viewers – is in bondage to an industry. It has the money, the will, the muscle, and the propaganda machine oiled up to keep us all locked up in a delusional system – as even what America is. (Bambara. 1996, p. 140) The study of race and gender, which fo cuses on the portrayal of women, is significant and contributes to the field of mass co mmunication research as it is also an exploration of political and social power. According to Croteau and Hoynes (1997), “Historically, the U.S. media have taken ‘white s” to be the norm against which all racial groups are measured… The absence of the racial signifier in this coun try usually signifies whiteness. The pervasiveness of white perspec tives in media is perh aps its most powerful characteristic” (p. 24). The movie industry offers a socialized vers ion of not only the norm, but the ideal. According to media scholar Marshall McLuha n (1964), “The movie is not only a supreme expression of mechanism, but paradoxically it offers as product the most magical of consumer commodities, namely dreams” (p. 32) In addition to being a very powerful economic force in mass media, the film indus try has become “America’s storyteller”

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12 meaning that Hollywood has long served as “contemporary mythmakers…at their best they tell communal stor ies that evoke and symbolize ou r most enduring values and our secret desires” (Campbell et al., 2005, p. 229). This study questions the role of race, gender, and sexuality in perpetuating the myth s of the past by examining almost four decades of film. Since the early days of the Hollywood studio system women and minorities have contributed to filmmaking (Slide, 1998, p. 38) but such an inclusive film industry does not operate in the Western world anymore. Th e secret desires of m odern movie goers are constructed by the powerful Big Five – Para mount, MGM, Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox, and RKO along with the Little Three of Columbia, Universal, and United Artists (Campbell et al., 238). Commercial film, like most entertainment media is dependent on conflict for intri gue and box office sales. The use of gender, race, and/or ethnicity is used as a narrative device effectively to create conflict in film and this technique, in a visual medium like film, is as old as the medium itself. According to film scholar Cameron Bailey (1998) in “Nigger/Love: The Thin Sheen of Race”, Since the cavalry rode manfully across the cross cutting to save Lillian Gish from blackness in Birth of a Nation, since Barbara Apollonia Chalupiec became Pola Negri and took up a position as Hollyw ood’s resident Other, black sexuality, indeed anything other than white sexualit y, has been both a potent threat and a powerful attraction in American film. Adopting a centuries old signification system, Hollywood from its beginnings linke d racial difference to sexual danger, Danger, we saw, lurked in a capital-O Other: sexual transgression became Hollywood’s darkest din, and its surest box-office draw. (Bailey, 1998, p. 28) The study of these films with an interraci al relationship show that Hollywood is still using women’s experiences and race as a se xual transgression and box office draw. Despite the ideal that race relations in America have been healed since the Civil Right’s Era and integration is openly occurr ing, the U.S. Census taken in 2000 indicates

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13 that only 2 percent of American marriages are interracial reflecting that each partner is of a different ethnic or racial group (U.S. Census 2000). This extremely low statistic shows that in America love follows specific and narrow color lines. Although the U.S. Supreme court ruled in Loving V. Virginia in 1967 that States prohibiting in terracial marriage was unconstitutional (Romano, 2003, p. 188), the Census indicates that segregation still exists in American households. The study of racial a nd/or ethnic stereotypes in film offers insights into the attitudes a nd stereotypes that contribute to this on-going segregation, “preventing people from finding love as they wish” (Moran, 2001, p. 37). Since the early days of American film, when D. W. Griffith directed the American Epic Birth of a Nation the social fear of interracial in teraction has been portrayed to the masses as “dangerous” (Kaplan, 1997, p. 66; hooks, 1992, p. 311). In feminism, film feminism, media studies, and f ilm studies it becomes clear that American film has an agenda: “Ostensibly, American movies have been dedicated to the reinforcement of middle-class morality and have done their shar e to strengthen capitalism, chauvinism, racism, sexism, and so on” (O’C onnor & Jackson, 1979, p. xii). Frequently, when non-white people are por trayed in film, they are there as performers. Bailey (1998) points out that black culture becomes “entirely performative, resulting in images that make the bl ack body the performing body, a body offered to a consuming, and largely unquestioning public” ( p. 40). This study explores the portrayal of women as performers and entertainers. The concept of the “other” as erotic is fre quently used in film to create tension. Bailey points out that in film “Never far behi nd this black as exotic stereotype is the implication that the black is more primitive or animal-like. The predominant physical

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14 stereotypes of blacks, the stereotype that holds currency in North American film – bulging eyes, thick lips, wide noses, enlarged sexual organs – turn the black into a rampaging figure of excess sensuality” (p. 32). The struggle over race, gender, and sexua lity continues to play out on the big screen even today. The assumption is made th at film is one of the oldest forms of Mass Media in Western society and remains one of the most powerful. Mainstream Hollywood film is also a wealthy white man’ s industry that promotes and protects a hegemonic social order which places the portr ayal of women, both Caucasian and women of color, frequently in ster eotypical and limited frames. Because the scope of film is so broad and women can be seen in almost any f ilm, research concentrated on the portrayal of women in the top fifteen box office film s annually from 1967 – 2005 with a current interracial romantic or sexual heterosexual relations hip only. The framing analysis of females in interracial relationships in f ilm is an innovative addition to the growing dialogue about gender, race, and media. This research was then used to create the categories for a content analysis study of the same sample of films. To obtain the most valid and reliable results th is study utilized both a qualitati ve and quantitative research method. Much work has been done on the portrayal of women in film and the portrayal of women as objects rather than as subject s. Media Scholar Laura Mulvey (1975) established in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” that women are constructed in film and other media images for the male “s pectator’s gaze” (p. 7). The implication of Mulvey’s research finding of “The Gaze is Male” contributed greatly to film study since its appearance in Screen in 1975. The greater implication being that “the Hollywood text

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15 is gendered and male by virtue not only of the dominant forms of visual pleasure – voyeurism and fetishism, traditionally analyzed as male perversions – but also by the close formal convergence of narrative progress …” (Elsaesser, 2002, p. 253). The concept of the male gaze is not new to film but finds its root in the early days of commercial images in the Art world. In Ways of Seeing (1977) John Berger makes the important distinction that: Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyed female. Thus she turns herself into an object – and mo st particularly an object of vision: a sight. (Berger, 1977, p. 47) The importance of Berger’s distinction in the greater concept of Gramsci’s Hegemony is that women are thereby not merely subjected to the “male gaze” but are so conditioned in a male power structure to actu ally objectify themselves willingly. Berger builds an argument that women are depicted in a different way from men because the ideal spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of the women is designed to flatter him (p. 64). This study explores the ro le of women in the portrayal of importance in film and examines if women are portrayed in equally significant roles as men and if women are viable and important players in the plot of storyl ine. This is measured by examining the role of the female character as leading, supporting, or minor in the film under study. There has been much study done in academia to examine the portrayal of women in the past but such studies have been limited. When many media scholars were establishing film feminism the focus, which has since b een heavily criticized, was of white women and generalized to describe the experience of all women. Clearly, this is not the case. This study explores if women of color are treated the same on the big screen as their

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16 white counterparts. According to media scho lar, bell hooks (1992), “there is power in looking” (p. 10). In order to consider the portrayal of wome n in film we must consider the significance of each race and ethnic group’s history and social standing in America. The framing analysis and cont ent analysis in th is study both explore and define the sameness and difference each racial group re ceives in the portrayal of women in relationships with men of another racial group. Is the portrayal the same for a white man to be in a relationship with an Asian woman as it is when a white man is involved with a black woman? Do certain frames emerge w ithin racial portrayal of women that do not apply to other women? To consider the term “male gaze” as significant one must first address the concept of male and female as constructs of gende r under the theory of So cial Construction of Reality that will be discussed in more deta il later. Although some people use the terms “gender” and “sex” interchang eably, the terms have distinct ly different meanings (Wood, 2003, p. 19). Sex is a designation based on biolog ical factors, whereas gender is socially and psychologically constructed (Wood, 2003, p.18). Gender therefore, is a much more complex and dynamic concept than sex. Bi ology influences behavior, but culture determines how gender is valued. According to Teresa de Lauretis in Technologies of Gender (1987), “The term gender is actually, the re presentation of a relation, that of belonging to a class, a group, a cat egory” (p. 4). She says th at gender is used to create “the cultural conception of male and fema le as two complementary yet mutually exclusive categories into which all human beings are placed constitute within each culture a gender system, a symbolic system or system of meaning that correlates sex to cultural contents according to social values and hier archy” (p. 5).

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17 Hollywood not only systematically stereotypes women, but films exaggerate stereotypes of women in ge neral (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 299), and females in each race also seem to be stereotyped further. In an extensive content analys is study of the top 50 films of 1996, it was reported that stereotypes of women and minority films still exist in popular film (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 299). This study considered the portrayals of women significant as they “are important fact ors in the social c onstruction of reality among the general public and therefore may pe rpetuate racism and sexism on a larger scale” (p. 299). Findings for this study and other film studies suggest that females are still underrepresented in popular film. Women not only appear in films less frequently than men, but are also relegated to less im portant roles like supporting or minor roles (Media Report, 2003). Other findings about race and gende r include that Caucasian females tend to be portrayed as more feminine than African-American females. The displayed traits for trad itional male and female gender were examined in this study to test the previous finding and to s ee if it has changed over the past 38 years. In previous studies, African-American females were s hown as traditional stereotypes of the “Mammy” or “Jezebel.” Other minorities were rarely shown in any leading roles (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 322). The study conclu ded that Hollywood fi lms “represent a traditional social construction of the world where capitalism, patriarchy, and hegemonic masculinity are all represented by the norm and the ideal” (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 322). Film has and continues to be a “powerfu l site for the production, transformation, and maintenance of traditional cultural notions of identity” (Berland & Wechter, 1992, P. 35) After completing a systematic study of top grossing films from 1946 – 1994, Stephen Powers, David Rothman, and Stan ley Rothman published their findings in

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18 Hollywood’s America: Social and politic al Themes in Motion Pictures. This study involved a sample of 146 top-grossing films over a 44-year period. Gender and race were factors used in this study. Romance was f ound to be a leading motivational factor for women in these films. The role of sexua lity in film changes after 1968 when the new rating system replaces the Hays Code (P owers, 1996, p. 162). Powers (1996) found that the portrayal of women was found to be more “positively” than that of men, but race was not indicated as a factor in this finding (p. 164). Since the 1970s, women have been portra yed as more violen t and self-involved than in previous eras. The study concluded that women continue to be underrepresented in films (one woman to every three men on average). Representation of women over time has changed and these trends indicate "the traditional myths surrounding them – their civility, mate rnal instinct, and devotion to fam ily—have declined precipitously in influence” (Rothman & Powers, 1996, p. 170). Romance on the big screen has also undergone change over the years: In romantic situations, most of the attractive qualities of domestic life have been replaced by scen arios that make human existence seem that much more lonely, unpleasant, and dangerous for men and women alike (p. 170). The importance of romance and its significance to the portrayal of women and men in interracial relationships is explor ed as a value in this research. The study also examines the previous resear ch, which indicates that women in film are being portrayed as more violent sin ce the removal of Hollywood production codes (Rothman & Powers, 1986, p. 166). The use of sex and violence in film, however, is not new and has been capitalized on since the days of the early Nickelodeon theatres (Campbell et al., 2005, p. 124). Since the lif ting of the Hays Code in film in 1968, film

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19 has portrayed a more violent world, but how is the portrayal of women in interracial relationships impacted by this trend? The study looks to see if women are victims of violence or if they actually initiate violence. Are women of certai n races shown as prone to violence more than others? Me dia scholar bell hooks writes in We Real Cool that violence in America is being portrayed in me dia so frequently that it “is the norm”. Much research has been done in examining the difference between black and white men using violence in film, but li ttle has been done to examin e the role of violence as “naturalized” in women when race is a factor In addition, hooks points out that “sexism in black communities, though intense, is so common that no one takes violence against females seriously”(2004, p. 63). The study seek s to examine if women are significantly portrayed as victims of violence, which is a va riable that makes them socially vulnerable The portrayal of women as sexualized is another important aspect in the exploration of this study. Pr evious research indicates that women are often sexualized in American media and also portrayed as be ing very interested in sex (Wood, 2006, p. p.254). A study of sexual imagery of black women in contemporary American films by black and white filmmakers, revealed that popu lar film tends to portray black women as outnumbering the males as initiators of the sex act (Manatu-Rupert, 1998, p. 100). Findings in the study showed that women were also uninterested in romance or in the man as a person, but only interested in him se xually. The implication of this portrayal is that black women are morally flawed in the he gemonic social structure. In addition, the women were shown to be frequently angry and hostile towards the men despite their sexual interest in them. Th e content analysis and framing analysis asks the research question if women in interracial relationships are portrayed as sexualized, initiators of sex

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20 and motivated by sex and/or romance. It also examines how the women are dressed as an important aspect of how they are portrayed in the film. The role of conflict is an important variab le in the study of the portrayal of women in interracial relationships. In a qualitativ e content analysis study of 150 popular films, gendered conflicts in male/female relationshi ps were measured in detail (Hedley, 2003). The films under study consisted of the top 10-box office hits from 1986 – 2000. The study of gendered conflict was used to apply to a greater social syst em considered to be related to ‘have more to do w ith systemic stereotypes and hegemonic ideology than with empirical reality” (Hedley, 2003, p. 202). The fi ndings indicate that “the Gendered point of view across these films demonstrates an overwhelming preference for men’s perspective” and that women were found to be “more constrained by their stereotypes” (p. 201). Hedley found that often the women po rtrayed in the film ar e not “in control of her romantic/sexual future. He will make it happen. She will wait for it to happen to her” (Hedley, 2002, p. 225). This finding is expl ored in this study to see if women in interracial relationships are portrayed as “in control” of their romantic or sexual futures. A major content analysis study was conducted in interra cial relationships but focused on pornographic rather than Hollywood films. In a study of 54 films, Blackwhite, Asian-white and Hispanic-white pornography was examined. The findings indicated that in pornography, “the implicit messages about race are inextricably intertwined with those about sex” (Cowan et al., 1994, p. 335). In this study, findings indicate that race is used to exaggerate sex roles. The study states “pornography is not racially or ethnically neutral” (p. 337). Black females were treated significantly differently in pornographic interracial relati onships than Caucasian women. The authors

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21 propose that this discrepancy has a historic r oot in American culture. Black women were historically, and are often still, portrayed either as the “mammy” figure or the “Jezebel/whore” sexual deviant (Kapla n, 1997, p. 301; Modelski, 1991, p. 330). White women are usually shown as “feminized thr ough pathos” as “girl-victims, mothers, bitches, vamps/sluts, gold-diggers” and “dep endent on heterosexual relationships to be fulfilled” (Haskell, 1987, p. 10; Grinner, 2003, p. 199). This research explores these stereotypes and seeks to determine if the ra ce and/or ethnicity of the woman’s partner affects her portrayal and if race is used to exaggerate gender roles. According to Neal A. Lester and Maureen Daly Goggin in In Living Color: Politics of Desire in Heterosexual Inte rracial Black/White Personal Ads the study of interracial relationships offer significant insights into constructs of race and gender: In same-race relationships, power tends to be figured along gender lines; in interracial relations, power seems to be figured first along race and secondarily along gender lines. Desiring in terracial coupling requires disrupting racialized and gendered power structures. (Lester & Groggin, 2005, P. 130) Few mainstream film studies explore the role of gender, sexu ality, race, and/or ethnicity in the female experien ce as interrelated, especially in interracial relationship. This dissertation seeks to fill the need in this area of mass communication research. The absence of women of color in mass communica tion research or in mass media portrayal addresses a larger concern. According to Holtzman (2000) the story of women of color is absent from pages of American history. Media scholar hooks shar es this concern in several of her writings. She states that th e absence of black wo men in film makes a statement in itself: “There was clearly no place for black women” (Hooks, 1992, P. 311). Feminist film scholar E. Ann Kaplan actually released another edition of her book on Film Looking for the Other in response to the frustra tion of black feminist like hooks

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22 about the “cinematic negation” of women of color in early film feminism (Kaplan, 1987, p. xi). This research seeks to add signif icant findings to this dialogue for greater understanding and representation in racial and/or ethnicity portrayal of women in mass media. The lack of women of color in por trayal in blockbuster film and the lack of research about women of color in film is i ndicative of a greater issue of importance. This research explores if women of color in inter-racial relationships in the films are portrayed differently from the way women in same race relationships are portrayed. Research reflects that most research of the portrayal of women in heterosexual relationships in film rarely c onsiders aspects of same race a nd/or ethnicity of their male partners as a factor. Furt her research on women in interraci al relationships in film is needed. In Images that Injure: Pictoria l Stereotypes in the Media article authors Julianne H. Newton and Rick Williams make a passionate call for things to change: This is a call to humanity to strip away the false media types and stereotypes that constrict our rights to define our own iden tities based on our i ndividual, interwoven expressions of the masculine and feminine archetypes. Our goal is psychological and physical freedom. (Newton & Williams, 1999, p. 220) The primary goal of this research, using both a quantitative and qualitative mass media research method, is to answer this call to end the constriction of our identities and seeks to provide greater insight into current and historic trends in the freedom of women in film to be portrayed psychologically and physically free. Theoretical Perspectives The Film Feminist Paradigm There is no one experience of “being a wo man,” and thereby the feminist paradigm is complex and diverse. As Liesbet Van Zoonen in Feminist Media Studies (2003) and other feminist scholars maintain “feminism now adays is not easily delineated or defined”

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23 (p.2). According to film feminist Patric ia Mellencamp, “we all come to Feminism at different times from different places” ( 1995, p. 10). Mellencamp points out that Feminism is significant in analyzing stereot ypes of women: “Feminism initially is an undoing then a learning that repl aces self-hatred w ith self-regard, worship of men’s ideas and men with respect for women’s thoughts and for women and men” (p. 6). Visual stereotypes of women in mass media are not new. According to Carolyn Kitch (2001) in The Girl on the Magazine Cover : The Origins of Visual St ereotypes in American Mass Media before television or f ilm emerged as a mass media, magazines established the earliest stereotypes of wo men as early as 1895 (p.13). Although feminism is now more diverse and offers multiple perspectives, some commonality and elements distinguis h it from other theories. In Feminist Media Studies, Liesbet Van Zoonen (1994) identifies Feminism ’s significance: “Its unconditional focus on analyzing gender as a mechanism that struct ures material and symbolic worlds and out experiences of them, is hard to find in othe r perspectives on human ity and society” (, p. 5). Van Zoonen also explains “E thnicity, sexuality, class, an d a range of other discourses intersect with gender in various and someti mes contradictory ways” (1994, p. 6). The study of portrayal of women in interracial rela tionships in film allows an examination of these intersections. According to Kaplan ( 1987), the movies offer us important insights as “the signs in Hollywood film convey the patriarchal ideology that underlies our social structures and that constructs women in very specific ways” (p. 24). According to Haskell (1987) “we want nothing less, on or off the screen than the wide variety and dazzling diversity of male options” (p. 402).

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24 A greater emphasis is now being placed on the importance of race and ethnicity in creating the experience of women. This was an oversight in the early days of film feminism. According to Kaplan, the early wo rk in film feminism rarely focused on the issue of interracial interac tion. In addition, hooks (1992) al so addresses concerns about separating race and gender as issues. She raised the issue that Hollywood was not just a white man’s world but a white woman’s world. She writes, “Are we really to imagine that feminist theorists writing only about the image of white women, who subsume this specific historical subject under the tantal izing category of ‘woman,’ do not see the whiteness of the image” (p. 316)? Race is a si gnificant factor as film has a reliance on image and the visual impact of skin colo r is seen to immediately “mark a person” (Kaplan, 1987, p. 66). Cultural Studies The studying of narratives of film and cri tiquing the role of race and gender in America can be done effec tively through cu ltural studies (Eschhol z et al., 2002, p. 300). As cultural studies scholar Stua rt Hall explains, through cultur al studies we are able to examine the “politics of representation ” (1996, p. 89). Hall ex plains that media representations not only provide us with th e language by which to name the world but also inform our understanding of categories such as race. The complexity of racism “expresses through displacement, through de nial, through the capacity to say two contradictory things at the same time, the surface imagery speaking of an unspeakable content, the repressed conten t of a culture’ (Hall, 1996, p. 341). This “contradictory” portrayal is also shown in th e portrayal of gender in wester n culture, “the representation of women has appeared its split form – the good/bad girl, the good and the bad mother,

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25 Madonna and whore – so the representation of Blacks keep, at different times, exhibiting this split, double standard” (p. 342). According to Haskell, “Movies are one of the clearest and most accessible of looking glasses into the past, being both cu ltural artifacts and mirrors” (1987, p. xviii). Representations not only tell us about th e world in which we live now, but also categorize the world for us, giving it an or der that is intelligible and makes common sense (Jiwani, 1992, 183). Early categorizations of women of color tend to portray them as exotic, erotic, and dangerous. Especially dangerous is the way in which the exotic women of color were represen ted as treacherously distrac ting the white man from his important mission. Has this stereotype of wo men of color dissipate d over the 38 years of the study sample? Unfortunately, it is feared within cultural studies that popular culture feeds rather than challenges ster eotypes over time (MacKinnon, 2001, p. 23). Dominant attitudes not only dominate, but “normalize”. That which dominant groups see is all that is allowed to be seen. It soon becomes the only vision and, at that point, political and social life ‘stagnates” (p.24). Media re presentation is therefore so important because it “tells us how we are, who we should be and who we should avoid” (Kimmer, 1992, p. xii). Although cultural studies began in the United Kingdom it has become widely used in the United States and experienced great in ternalization as a theory which assumes that: Capitalist industrial socie ties are societies divided une qually along ethnic, gender, generational, and class lines. It contends that culture is one of the principal sites where this division is established and contes ted: culture is one of the principal sites where this division is established and cont ested: culture is a terrain on this takes place a continual struggle over meaning…it is what makes culture ideological. (Storey, 1996. p.3)

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26 It is this important ideology that is at th e center of cultural studies. Cultural studies therefore is very useful in the ongoing str uggle to define the political engagement of “gender as an entry into more multiple x and less romantic understanding of the constituents of power, subordination and resistance” (Long, 1996, p. 203). Interracial relationships involve many aspects of power and cultural studies he lp to untangle the “complex interrelatedness among gender, race, and class as they are constructed” (Long, 1996, p. 202). Social Construction of Reality Theory It is impossible to consider framing anal ysis as a method without using the Social Construction of Reality Theory. The very c oncept of “constructs” is critical to any study or gender and race which are in fact constructs within the society in which they exist. Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in The Sociology of Knowledge established that “reality” as we experience it is a social construct so “Sociological inte rest in questions of ‘realit y’ and ‘knowledge’ is thus initially justified by the fact of social rela tivity” (1966, p. 3). This critical approach was further developed to apply to mass media research by Gaye Tuchman in Making News: A study in the Construction of Reality where she states “knowledge is always socially constructed” (1978, p. 10). Gender, sexuality, race, and class can be viewed “as social constructs” (Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 4). In feminist media studies which are “intrinsically political,” looks at how thes e are constructed while working towards “more varied portrayal” of women, sexuality and minorities in the media (Van Zoonen, 1994, p. 4). According to Hubbard in The Social Construction of Sexuality “each of us writes our own sexual script out of the range of our e xperiences. None of this script is inborn or

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27 biologically given. We construct it out of our diverse life situations, limited by what we are taught or what we can imagine to be permissible and correct” (2004, p. 67). Media images are significant because they he lp us determine what we “consider to be good or bad; positive or nega tive, moral or evil” (Kellner, p. 9). Social construction of Reality Theory acknowledges that film – like other media provides an audience with images that are important factors in soci al construction of re ality among the general public, and therefore may perpetuate racism a nd sexism on a larger scale (Eschholz et al, 2002, p. 299). Croteau, Gamson, Hoynes, and Sa sson (1992) media images contribute greatly to constructs of reality: By now the story is familiar. We walk around with media-generates images of the world, using them to construct meaning a bout political and social issues. The lens through which we receive this images in not neutral but evinces the power and point of view of the political and economic elites who focus it. The authors also point out that in additi on to being exposed to a very limited and elite construct of reality, most people do not realize the unrealit y of it all, for “the special genius of this system is to make the whol e process seem so normal and natural that the very art of social construction is invisible” (Croteau D. et al., 1992, p. 374). By focusing on the repeated use of images and text in medi a we are able to deconstruct the “reality”. Although many people might think that race is a biological categorization, it like gender is also a construct. According to Holt zman (2000), the shift in meaning of race throughout U.S. history provides im portant clues to its definition. It is not biological, nor is it based primarily on skin color. As we look at history we will see that it is not

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28 necessarily based on ethnicity or one’s country or origin. Rather race is constructed socially, politically, and economically (p. 158). Messages from the film industry over time ha ve sought to exploit the use of race as a source of conflict. As one of the oldest forms of mass me dia, films, along with other forms of mass media, have historically help ed to determine our own gender and racial identities: What it means to belong to a certai n race, or to be a male or female, or to belong to a class or to be heterosexu al or homosexual (Kellner, 2003, p. 9). The objective of this research is to exam ine the “signification system” of race and gender from Hollywood. Film serves as “a powerful site for the production, transformation and maintenance of traditional cultural notions of identity” (Berland et al, 1992, p.35). While such “cultural notions” exist, film also offers a medium to show change and if gender is a construct, can offer new notions about race, sexuality, and gender. This study explores if notions have indeed changed over the past four decades in the big screen’s most popular box office hits. Delving into the constructs of gender at this time in Western society offers an important insight as “to image change as empowering and at the same time threatening, as women and men struggle to construct i ndividual and collective meanings during a transitional period” (Berger et al., 1966, p. 43). Doing so in studying film examines the construct in media and reflects a greater issue in our culture: To ha ve a self and to be female is a contradiction at the heart of the social cons truction of women’s role in contemporary society. The power of the film medi um is that it allows us to glimpse new possibilities for integrating these polaritie s, which can empower women and men to imagine new narrative yet to be writte n and lived (Berger et al., 1996 p. 43).

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29 Mass media in America has historically us ed race as a factor in “establishing cultural, economic, and political membership in the Country” where a lack of diversity in the portrayal of race in media is both “s ignificant and dangerous” (Ghosh, 274). Much effort has been made to show how mass media constr ucts of race create stereotypical images. There are several pr oblems with stereot yping but the greatest concern is that it lead s to ethnocentrisms and pr ejudice (Neuliep, 2003, p. 157). According to Manning Marable in Racism and Sexism “When we try to articulate an agenda of multicultural democracy, we run immediately into the stumbling block of stereotypes – the device at th e heart of every fo rm of racism today” (2004, p. 160). Along with the construct of race comes an implied social power structure. Media Scholar James Lull explains further that “hegemony is the power or dominance that one social group holds over others…but hegemony is more than social power itself; it is a method for gaining and maintaining power” (2003, p.61). The term “hegemony” is attributed to Italian intellectual Antonio Gr amsci who saw that the mass media as tools that ruling elites use to “perpetuate their power wealth and status [ by popularizing] their own philosophy, culture and morality” (Boggs, 1987, p. 36). In American society, where 98% of marri ages in the 2000 Census were same-race unions, interracial relationships can be view ed as outside the norm and the framing analysis and content analysis question if interracial rela tionships are portrayed as problematic or lasting. Does the portrayal of interracial re lationships over almost four decades reflect major change? Neal Lester and Maureen Daly G oggin say that despite legal efforts in landmark decisions like Brown v. The Board of Education in 1954 and the abolition of anti-miscegenation laws in 1967, “interracial coupling” —“continues to be

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30 characterized as deviant and out of bounds by both sides of th e black/white sociopolitical divide” (2005, p. 132). Lester a nd Goggin (2005) suggest that those who seek interracial relationships “acknowledge that their desires and actions transgress socio-political boundaries” (p. 133). Also, according to Le ster and Goggin although a romantic or sexual relationship might be considered to be a personal choice, interracial relationship choices indicate that “in matters of sex, race, and gender, personal choices are at times read and rendered as political judgments” (p. 134). Film, as a visual medium, is capable of showing the individual what is “real” and influence the “selves” of individual members of the audience (Hedley, 2002. p. 202). Cultivation Theory In using content analysis as research method in this study, Cultivation Theory (also referred to as Cultivation analysis or th e Cultivation hypothesis) is an important theoretical element. Cultivation theory was developed by media scholar George Gerbner and argues that mass media cultivate attitudes and values which are already present in a culture: the media maintains and propagate these values amongst members of a culture, thereby binding it together (BoydBarrett & Braham, 1987, p. 100). Cultivation analysis is defined by Gerbner as the investigation of the consequences of ongoing and pervasive systems of cultural messages. He adds that the size of an "effect" is far less critical than the direction of its steady contribution ( 1980, p. 212). This study involves the direction of steady contribution over a 38-year period. Gerbner describes the power of the media as being inherent in the storie s that are repeatedly told, thoug h the content analysis at the heart of Cultivation research are almost ne ver about the stories (Gerbner, 1998). The analyses are about the acts of violence, they are about ch aracters and their attributes

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31 (Gandy, 2003, p. 362). Cultivation theory serves id eally in research such as this that seeks to study violence and also the specific attributes of characters. In media studies the mass media serves as a socialization agent and investigates how media viewers come to believe the televi sion version of real ity. Although much of Gerbner’s research was conducted in studies on the effects of television, Cultivation theory is valuable in studying other form s of “mass produced stories” (Gerbner, 1998, p. 176). Gerbner examined “Cultural Indicators” in cultivation research projects which were used to track the “central themes of television’s dramatic content since 1967” (1998, p. 180). Cultivation theory is useful in looking at the interrelatedness of many variables in mass media studies not merely violence a nd has dealt with variables such as sexualization, gender roles, age groups, ethni c groups and political attitudes (Dominick, 1990, p. 12; Gerbner et al, 1980, p. 212; Signor elli, 1978). According to Gerbner: The point is that cultivation is not conceived as unidirect ional but rather more like a gravitational process. The angle and di rection of the pull depends on where groups of viewers and their styles of life are w ith reference to the line of gravity or “mainstream” of the world of television. Each group may strain in a different direction, but all groups ar e affected by the same ce ntral current. (Gerbner 1998, p. 180) The process of the converg ence of outlooks is referred to as “mainstreaming” (Gerbner, 1998, p. 181). Cultivation theorists di stinguish between “first order” effects such as the general beliefs about everyday life and “second order effects” such as specific attitudes. Cultivation theory has been used in studies of gender to extrapolate assumptions about the images of women in television which found that the underrepresentation of women in the world of television has a rela tionship to higher scores of the “sexism scare” for heavy viewers (Si gnorelli, 1989). Cultivation analysis “is well

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32 suited to multinational and cross-cultural comparative studies” (Gerbner 1977, 1989; Morgan, 1990). Cultivation analysis “concentrates on the enduring and common consequences of growing up and living with mass media stories th at are repeatedly perpetuation certain cultural messages (Gerbner, 1998, p. 191). In the study of interactions with racial groups and with gender different from oneself, Cultivation theory (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorelli, 1994) explains that media contributes to one’s expectation about people and places “in the real world” (Larson, p. 223). Studies that compare intera ctions between different racial groups are rare (Larson, p. 224). Gerbne r, like many other media scholars, points out that the "giant industries discharge their messages into the mainstream of common conscious" (Gerbner, 1998, p. 176). The messages created by the media industry then serve to direct the flow of ideas in society in the pull of what Ger bner describes as a "gravitational process.” Although each social group may be affected differently, "all groups are affected by the same central current. Cultivation is thus "par t of a continual, dynamic, ongoing process of interaction among messages and cont exts" (Gerbner, 1998, p. 180). Cultivation theory serves as an important element in the use of content analysis as a quantitative method in this study to ask questions about existence, priority or importance, evaluative assessment and relationshi p between elements (Gandy, 2003, p. 362). Research Questions: The representation of culture in film a nd the theoretical perspectives discussed above led to the following research questi ons which will be studied in the framing analysis and the content analysis. R1: How are women in romantic and/or se xual interracial relati onships in films under study portrayed?

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33 R2: Are sexual or romantic relationships framed as central to the li ves of the women in the films under study? R3: Are the women in interracial romantic an d/or sexual relationsh ips in the film under study framed as overcoming adversity and/or hostility from people outside the relationship? R4: Are the women in romantic and/or se xual relationships in the films under study framed as being in control of th eir romantic and/or sexual future? R5: Are the women in interracial relationships under study framed as sexualized in behavior, appearance, and motivation?

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34 CHAPTER 2 METHODS The objective of the research for this disse rtation was to explore and investigate the social constructs of gender and race when examined in the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in popular American film. Two research methods were used. Triangulation: Using A Quantitati ve Method And A Qualitative Method Media scholars along with academic scholars in other disciplines have long debated the superiority of quantitative research methods over qualitati ve and vice versa. Clearly both quantitative and qualitative research offer benefits to the scholar, and the choice of what method to use would best be made by consideration of the research question. The exploratory and descriptive nature of this study is complex and multi-faceted. After much contemplation, the decision was made to use a qualitative method first and then a quantitative method to test or further explore the findings of the first method. It is no secret that qualitative research can be s ubjective. Nor is it uncommon for research on race, sex, or gender to be considered cont roversial. To conduct a study capable of generating the greatest and mo st significant findings, a fram ing analysis and a content analysis study were designed to examine the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film from 1967 2005. John W. Creswell (1998) in Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design explains that ontology asks the important question: What is the nature of reality? Social Construction of Reality theory illustrates that “reality,” as we experience it, is subjective and multiple. The use of qualitative research allows the rese arch to access the versions of reality shown

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35 in the media and also as it is experienced by the audience. Researchers in qualitative research go beyond looking at quantitative meas ures to use quotes and themes in words and images to provide evidence of different perspectives. From an Epistemological perspective the question is: “What is the re lationship between the researcher and that being researched?” A researcher attempts to lessen distance between him/herself and the subject being researched. The research in timately explores the text or message and “becomes an insider.” The nature of qualita tive research makes it impossible to blend with quantitative research which seeks to maintain objectivity a nd distance from the studied text, message or audi ence. This study, therefore, never seeks to blend the traditions of qualitative and quantitative re search but sequentially uses each method to explore the textual messages of the film and then to objectively explore the statistical significance of variables present in the film. The Critical tradition of quali tative research described by Guba and Lincoln (1994) refer to a blanket term denoting a set of se veral alternative paradigms, including but not limited to neo-Marxism, feminism, material ism and participatory inquiry (p.111). The value determined nature of inquiry or epistemological difference is the common breakaway assumption. In media effects, the investigator and invest igated “object” are assumed to be independent. Not so in critical theory. The research er is thought to be a “transformational intellectual” not an indiffere nt “disinterested scientist”. The Critical theorist is concerned with historical, social, political, and economic environments surrounding the inquiries. Media effects fo llow the model of create hypothesis – gather data – prove or disprove data.

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36 The media effects tradition emerged init ially in America mass communication and can be seen with the Payne Fund Study, the fi rst and largest media effects study done in mass communication history from 1929 – 1932. The Magic Bullet theory emerged and then uses gratification. The critical tradi tion however, was born from the social science tradition of the Chicago School, which originat ed with the Frankfurt School (1920) long before this (Rogers, 1994, p.137). The Frankf urt School concentrated on theories of Marx and Freud. The critical scholars were neo-Marxist, humani stic, and intellectual (Rogers, 1994 p. 129). The Critical cultural tr adition is heavily influence by the theories of Marx (1818 1883) and We ber (1779 – 1831). The Frankfurt School scholars were philosophers and not interested in merely gathering data. Th e activities of the critical tradition are intended to lead to an idea l society without human exploitation. Historically, the issues facing the Critical tradition were very much concerned with issues of ownership and control of the mass media. Such topics esca ped scholars like Paul Lazarfeld, who took to investigating effects. The tension now between the critical and empirical communication scholars poses “a fru itful intellectual ch allenge” (Rogers, 1997, p. 125). During the 1970s, media effect s studies dominate d mass communication research efforts but and were dependent on quantitative research that sought to gather and analyze data. According to Egon Guba and Yvonna Linc oln (1994) media effects methods are very outcome-oriented while critical is pro cess oriented. In qualitative research the impact of anthropology and social science on the Critical-cultural tradition is essential, while the natural science view impacts medi a effects (p. 115). The goal in critical cultural studies is to understand the investig ated view whereas medi a affects it to find

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37 facts and causes. Media effects are born out of the hard sciences such a chemistry or physics. Critical cultural unlike media eff ects does not seek statistical relationships but greater insight into human relationships. Th e role of hegemony is significant in the qualitative research tradition. As Guba and Lincoln (1994) imply, the differences between qualitative and quantitative methods go way beyond mere “ philosophical” difference, but have implications that impact the practical conduct of inquiry, as well as for the interpretation of findings and policy choices. The authors claim that “a dialogue among paradigm proponents of all stripes will afford the best avenue for moving toward a responsive and congenial relationship” (p. 116) Knowing that qualitative and quantitative methods offer very different philosophical and methodological approaches can be viewed as a divisive reality for media scholars. Multiple Methods as “Crystallization,” Not Merely Triangulation Clearly, media scholars use using either a quantitative or qualitative research method to effectively find valid and reliable re sults consistently in media studies. The triangulation method is not necessary in orde r to obtain reliable findings. This study, therefore, uses multiple research methods not merely to “verify” findings but to go beyond the “rigid fixed two dimensional objec ts” of a triangle and enter into the “crystallization”. In the Handbook of Qualitative Research Norman Denzin and Yvonne Lincoln (2000) explain that triangulation methods went through a period of popularity because of validity concerns alone (p. 934) Researchers of multiple methods now seek to go beyond this limitation and use crystall ization to “provide us with deepened, complete, thoroughly partial, understanding of the topic” (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.

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38 934). Crystallization, therefore, is useful in the research of a multi-faceted study that examines interrelated variables of sex, race, gender and time. This work on sex, gender, and race seek s to embrace the diversity of the two methods and, rather than see one as “superior,” endeavors to utilize the benefits of both measures creating a greater concept of the scope, magnitude, significance, and implications of the portrayal of interracial relationshi ps on Hollywood’s big screen. This study of interracial relationships spans a sample of 38 years of Hollywood films. Examining the texts of almost f our decades of popular film requires a close inspection of the text and images of the film itself. In looki ng at trends over this long time in media history, quantitative research is very appropriate and useful in indicating statistical significance of frequency, trends, a nd the inter-relatedness of variables of time, race, gender, and sexual portrayal. Such prec ise insights are difficult to ascertain with a qualitative method only. As Van Zoonen (2003) points out the femini st media research, or any interpretive research, is “often conducted by one resear cher who formulates the research question, decides on sampling, designs instruments for da ta collection and anal ysis, then actually collects and analyses empirical material and finally conjures up the research report”. Such a significant role of the researcher can create validity and reliability concerns about subjectivity and bias “interpret ations” (p. 143). For this reas on this study was designed to create measures of validity and reliability to correct for such problems in the research design and findings. Using a “cross-check” ap proach by creating and utilizing a Delphi Panel before the study began was, for this very purpose, to establish that the sample and research methods were valuable beyond one re searcher’s possibly “biased interpretation”

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39 (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p. 393). Powers, Rothman and Rothman (1996) in Hollywood’s America: Social and Polit ical Themes in Motion Pictures make it clear that looking at one film alone or a small group of films “significantly influence audiences over a long haul,” but by studying a large samp le of films over a longer period of time, we explore “it is reasonable to believe that such presentation will affect audiences to a significant extent” (p. 10). What is a researcher to do to create a st udy that overcomes the potential of bias and subjectivity? Clearly, studies of sex, gender, and race in interracial relationships are rare and, thereby, inherently posse ss the potential for conflict in the findings. Van Zoonen (2003) points out that “triangul ation data sources and method s tend to even out the flaws of individual research methods and augments the likelihood that a vari ety of perspectives have been brought into the examination and an alysis” (p. 164). Using multiple methods and multiple sources can create research th at is more “compelling, and therefore be regarded as more robust” (Yin, 1984, p. 234). Another benefit of using multiple methods is that it offers researchers corrobor ating evidence (Ely et al., 1991; Erlandson et al., 1993; Glesne & Peshkin, 1992; Patton: 1990) The qualitative researcher benefits from using a quantitative and qualitative method by gaining greater perspective and a “verification procedure” (Creswell, 1998, p. 202). Since there is currently so little research conducted on the portrayal of interracial relationships in mass media, doing both the framing analysis and content analysis will hopefully establish a foundation for future studi es. The findings of the framing analysis were used to create the categories studied in the content analysis. The combination of the

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40 two methods offers the best of both quantit ative and qualitative research theory and methodology. Framing analysis Framing is a research method that is cu rrently extensively used to study media messages (Holstein, 2003, p. 26). The origins of framing analysis can be traced back to the work of sociologist Erving Goffman in Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience in 1974. According to Goffman the “‘frame” in frame analysis refers to this inev itably relational dimension of m eaning” (1974, p. xii) and finds its origins in the Social Construction of R eality Theory. According to Goffman “frame analysis is a slogan to refer to the examin ation in these terms of the organization of experience” (p. 11). Goffman’s concept of fram es as the organization of experience as a “schemata of information” was soon built upon by other sociologists and then media scholars. One early application of frami ng analysis for media studies was conducted by Gaye Tuchman (1978) in Making News: A Study in the Construction of Reality It has since been used many times by scholars of the mass media. William A. Gamson in Framing Public Life a frame analysis identifies thr ee components: The attention to the production process, the examination of the te xts, and addressing the complex interaction of texts with an active audi ence engaged in negotiating meaning” (2001, p x.). Gamson points out that “frames are of gr eatest interest to the extent that they add up to something bigger than an individual story” (2001, p. 13). Gitlin argues that "media frames, largely unspoken and unacknowledged, organize the world media frames as a persistent pattern of cognition, interpretation, and presentation, of selecti on, emphasis and exclusion, by which symbol-handlers routinely organize discou rse, whether verbal or visual" (2001. p. 16).

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41 Although many scholars have used the meta phor of a picture frame for the method of framing, the media scholar is urged to "move beyond two-dimensional thinking about framing" (Holstein, 2003, p. 7). Tankard suggest s that it would be more helpful to think of the frame-of-a-house rather than frame-of -a-picture metaphor. The "house construction has two parts. It is an attempt to provide a useful way of thinking about frames, in a three-dimensional sense, that connects frames to their social context through hegemony and implications of social c onstruction (Holstein, 2003. p. 8) The argument about the importance of frames in media and portrayal is best made by Stuart Hall (1996), “framing of all competing definitions of reality within [the dominant class] range, bringing alternatives within their horiz ons of thought . sets the limits –mental and structural –within which subordinate classes live and make sense of their subordination in such a way as to sust ain the dominance of those ruling over them” (p. 333). Lull (2003) says that “hegemony implies the willing agreement by people to be governed by principles, rules, and laws they believe operate in their best interest, even though in actual practice they may not” (p. 630) According to Hall, the critical element of hegemony is that it is “fragile,” as “it is not a ‘given’ and permanent state of affairs, but it has to be actively won and secured; it can be lost” (p. 333). This research offers some diversion from that previously coll ected on the portrayal of women in relationships in film and allo ws a new look at power, race, gender, and sexuality. The added factor of race to gende r appears to create new dynamics of power. This information is important as it shows th e comparison of women to one another rather than to men. Most research has a tendency to focus on the portrayal of males and the comparison with males. Hegemony is maintain ed in our society “not just by males but by

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42 females, too, who often see traditional ge nder roles as so standard and normal that hegemonic structures, limits and barriers are all but invisible” (Holtzman, 2000, p. 72). Recently, framing analysis has taken on many variations in design, at the heart of the method lies the three-dimensional conne ction between "power contained within hegemony and the role of culture" to do so "diminishes the concep t” (Holstein, 2003, p. 11). Framing is a useful tool to examine ex isting concepts about media hegemony and possibly offer new insights. Holstein stat es that "framing offers a means to bring hegemony to the foreground and challenge the very notion that common sense 'just is'. Framing can serve as an "illumination" (Hol stein, 2003, p. 12). Framing is based on the premise that individuals interp ret media messages in light of previous experience (Hall, 2000, p 44). Frames can assist us in id entifying problems and in redefining our "perceived reality." By redefi ning the problem, frames allow us to evaluate causal agents and offer "treatment recommendations" (Entman, 1993). Gamson, Croteau, Hoynes and Sasson (1992) claim that media creates messages which promote “apathy, cynicism, and quiescen ce rather than ac tive citizenship and participation” (p. 391). The authors cha llenge media research ers to question the constructions of reality being offered in a media industry oligopoly marketplace: Ideally, a media system suitable for a demo cracy ought to provide its readers with some coherent sense of the broader social fo rces that affect the conditions of everyday life. It is difficult to fi nd anyone who would claim that media discourse in the United States even remotely approaches th is ideal (Gamson et al., 2002, p. 391).

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43 The purpose of the framing analysis elem ent of this study seeks to question the existing constructs of reality about interraci al interaction between men and women on the big screen since 1967 in blockbuster films. Creating the Framing Analysis Before the framing analysis began, the films used for the sample study were identified. As media research textbooks point out, a reliable and re presentative sample is critical to the validity and re liability of the findings of a study. Great care was taken in identifying this sample and a Delphi panel was created to assist with the final selection of the sample. Delphi Panel This study involved extensive thought into the design and execution of the research. To create objectivit y and solicit insight, a Delphi Panel was consulted on issues related to the design of the st udy of the film. The Delphi Panel method was developed in the 1950s to systematically util ize expert opinion in "controve rsial socio political areas of discourse (Spinelli, 1983, p. 73). This method was used because of the complex, and potentially controversial asp ects of the study, which focuses on multiple issues of sociopolitical variables including sexuality, gender, and race. Consisting of five media scholars with a specialty in mass media, f ilm, sex, and gender or research, the Delphi Panel reviewed of the selection of the films in the sample and concurred that the films met the criteria of the study. The panel ove rlooked the database Top 15 lists for each to make sure that no film had been overlooked in the sample and might need to be included. The panel also assisted in conferring that the unit of analysis of study should be each interracial relationship in each film under study.

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44 Other technical questions were answered by the panel that include d how to treat the portrayal of an actor of one race who is being portrayed in the film as another race. For example, in Little Big Man, Dustin Hoffman is portrayed as an Indian man who is actually a white man. The panel determined that the character needed to be studied according to the race they were portraying in the film and not n ecessarily their actual race. The panel also determined that the study should be limited to include only human male and female relationships. This question was raised as a number of films like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings involved fantasy species and race s. The panel was referred to throughout the research to resolve issues of possible controversy and to offer agreement on research outcomes such as the framing anal ysis findings or cont ent analysis coding categories. The Films in the Sample Media scholars have pointed out that one pr oblem with film or te levision studies is, “depending on the movies or programs one picks as representative – and without a publicly validating scheming coding films – one can prove almost anything” (Rothman et al, 1993, p. 66). The method of selecting f ilms as “representativ e” therefore is very important to the validity and reliability of the study. The important step to determining the size and scope of the film sample to create an adequate representation was heavily considered before being selected. The determ ination was made to begin the scope of the study in 1967 because, before this year in the United States of America, many states had laws banning interracial marri age or relationships. The se lection of 1967 marks the year of the Supreme Court decision in the Loving V. Virginia abolishing anti-miscegenation laws as unconstitutional. Incidentally, it wa s also the year that Academy Awards were

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45 given for the film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner based upon white parent’s initial alarm at their grown daughter’s desire to marry a professional black male. Starting the research in 1967 created an unexpected challenge in finding archived databases which offered much detail about th e box office sales from the late 1960s and 1970s. Several databases offered the t op 100 box office films since 1980. Finding the top blockbuster films for earlier years was ch allenging and inconsistent. In order to provide an equitable sample size for each ye ar, the top 15 films in box office sales were identified as a consistent and reliable box office listing. This list was compiled from the online database of boxofficereport.com, originally downloaded and finalized in February 2006. Rather than using a random sample, it was determined the sample would contain all films within the 38 year span that f eatured an interracial relationship. There are many ways to select movies fo r study but box office sales was selected as significant since it is a reflection of the hi ghest earning films which had the greatest exposure to the highest number of people in each year. It is often argued that the audience is a significant element in our co mplex media system (Lind, p. 11). Audience size and exposure does matter when looking at ma instream American films as this is what makes them blockbusters. This study seeks to examine the mass media impact of film and, therefore, examines what was most popul ar and had the greates t impact. Although video rental numbers are a si gnificant source of film inco me currently, this would not have been a consistent factor for creating a sample from the 1960s. The top 15 blockbuster’s lists were research ed to identify films that had potential for interracial relationship in them based upon the theme of the film and the race or ethnicity of the actors in the film. The Delphi Panel of media experts al so assisted in this

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46 process. The extensive film Database of IMDb.com was used for cast and film story line research. The cast line list was studied to identify ethnicity and gender factors of the actors involved in each film. Descriptions of each film from movi e guides were also studied to see if cultural or racial issues we re identified. It was generally impossible to make a decision based upon descriptions a nd cast lists alone so often the film was reviewed to disclose if any interracial relati onships were actually po rtrayed. This process resulted in a list of 60 films initially selected. These 60 films were viewed, and those not actually containing a male and female interra cial sexual or romantic relationship were excluded. It is interesting to note how often leading black ma les flirted with their white female counterparts but no romantic or sexual relationship ever fully materialized. At this point, it was defined that “relationships” were identified as those that are romantic or sexual between a heterosexual male and heterosexual female of different races and not merely based on flirtation or friendship. The films that qualified for this descrip tion were placed on the final list consisting of 36 films. This list is included in the appendi x. These films were then carefully studied using framing analysis techniques described elsewhere. Copious notes were taken to document the portrayal, words, actions, images and behavior of the females in these films in response to the five research questions. After a ll the films were viewed, the analysis was formed in response to the four research questions base d on the frames of the females. The findings of the framing analysis then served to create the categories for the content analysis study. It was necessary for this research to identify the defining concept of “interracial” relati onships. Romantic interracial and/or sexual relationships

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47 were defined as those involving a man a nd woman who represent different racial categories identified by the most recent U.S. Cens us to determine the criteria for film to study. The U. S. Census identifies interracial marriages and living relationships as those involving people from two different categories. This same categorization was used for this research process to ensure consistency in definition. Coding Procedures Once the films to be included in the sample were established, the next step was to establish that each interracial re lationship within a film serves as the unit of analysis. Therefore, a film may need to be coded fo r more than one relationship. In the James Bond films, for example, Bond often has a numbe r of interracial relationships within one movie. Each of these relationships would be c oded separately in the co ntent analysis. It was necessary to identify the defining concep t of “interracial” relationships. Romantic interracial and/or sexual rela tionships were defined as t hose involving a man and woman who represent different racial categories iden tified by the most recent U.S. Census. The U. S. Census (2000) identifies in terracial marriages and livi ng relationships as those involving people from two differe nt categories. This meant that leading roles in films with men and women of different races made th e film a possible sample for this research if a romantic or sexual relationship was portrayed. In addition, the sample included films that ha d interracial relationships as current in the storyline. For example, in Meet the Fochers (2005) the storyline involved an interracial relationship that the main character had with his Hispanic housekeeper when he was a teenager. The Delphi Panel member s decided that the in terracial relationship had to be part of the plot during the film and coding could not be based on a relationship

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48 in the back-story of the plot. Coding for variables described by char acters about the past would have been problematic for several reasons. The films which qualified as “interracial romantic or sexual relationships” were placed on the final list which consisted of 36 films. Therefore, the review process eliminated 24 films from the sample. The list of films that were actually studied is included in the appendix and descriptions of th e film are included in the analyses. The films in the sample were then carefully examined using framing analysis techniques described elsewhere. Copious notes were taken to document the portrayal, words, actions, images and behavior of the females in these films in response to the five research questions. For example, after reviewing th e film with sound, the investigator then watched the film without sound to document non-verbal intera ctions as well as verbal communications. After all the films were viewed, the cont ent analysis frames were formed in response to the research questions based on th e portrayal of the women. This step was also significant not merely because the fram es were based upon the actual text of the films but because the content of the frames were used to create the 41 question coding sheet for the content analysis portion of the st udy. This created the effect of getting the initial findings in the framing analysis and then “quantifying” the findings in the content analysis. Conducting the Framing Analysis The films included in the study were selected and verified as described previously. The research questions for the framing anal ysis were identified after conducting an extensive literature review of the mass media research in the histor y of film, women in film, race in film, gender in film, sexuality in film, interracial relationships in other forms

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49 of mass media, and interracial relationships in film. The questions under study in the framing analysis were used to direct the stru cture of the framing anal ysis. Each film in the sample was viewed by the researcher a num ber of times and copious notes were taken as previously described. Conducting a framing analysis is an extremely time consuming and energy requiring endeavor for the researcher. Attenti on to detail was paid not only to the film storyline but to the details of each character in an interracial relationship: How were they portrayed? In what way did they walk, talk a nd interact with other pe ople in the film, not just the relationship? What was the role of the character in the film? How important was he or she to the film? What was the nature of the relationship in the film? What words, images and film angles contributed to the portrayal of the character? The framing analysis served to identify issues of “salie nce” within the media text, which in this study was the film itself (Paxton, 2004 p. 44). Gr eat study was given to the interaction of characters as “frames are often uns poken and unacknowledged” (Gitlin, 1980). The challenge in researching potentially po litically sensitive research subjects such as race, sexuality, and gender require the re searcher to look beyond what is being shown and see what is not being shown! James Ta nkard (2001) points out that the researcher has to carefully observe the media text to see beyond the illusion being offered stating “media framing can be likened to the magician’s sleight of hand – atte ntion is directed to one point so that people do not notice the ma nipulation that is going on at another point” (p.97). The framing analysis was conducted by watching the films, studying the portrayal of the men and women involved in the interraci al relationship in the film, and how they were treated within the storyl ine and by other characters in the film. The frames which

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50 emerged were then discussed in detail w ith a peer review co mmittee of mass media experts with an emphasis of expertise in sex, gender, and race. The findings and the proposed frames were scrutinized for significance The use of peer review is considered by many media scholars to be an effective wa y for qualitative researchers to cross-check for validity (Creswell, 1998; van Zoone n, 2003). The final results and the emerging frames are described in respons e to the research questions es tablished at the start of the study.

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51 CHAPTER 3 THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN IN TERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN FILM Womanhood in the Sample Films After conducting the research in the framing analysis, the following is a description of the dominant frames that were identifie d in response to the research questions established earlier in the study: R1:How are women in romantic or sexual in terracial relationships in films under study framed? In the 36 films under study, very specific patterns emerged. As a result of extensive research, eight dominant frames were identified from the portrayal of women in the films: The White Woman as Flawed, and/or Fragile All’s “Fair” in love and war: The hierar chy of skin color in the portrayal of good and evil Love you to Death: Interraci al relationships in a worl d of violence and conflict Gender Benders: Women in Interracial Re lationship’s Failure to be Feminine The “Super-model” Minorities: Wome n of Color as Exotic, Erotic, and Exceptional and the men of colo r as the perfect Gentleman The Mary Magdalene Frame: Unwort hy women Distracting Men from Their Mission in Life White Male Fantasy: Skin, Sex, Subservi ence and Saving the Damsel in Distress The White Woman as Flawed and/or Fragile From the 38 years of film in this st udy 1967 2005, the top 15 popular films in box office sales were considered and reviewed. This means that of the possible 540 films

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52 studied only 11 examples of white women in an interracial relations hip in almost four decades were found. This in and of itself is a telling sta tistic. The portrayal of white women in an interracial rela tionship in film, therefore, accounts for 0.019 percent of all films. What is also interesting to note is that the trend has not changed over the decades but become more exaggerated as there are NO white women in the last decade of the study. Of the four decades of films, there were 11 white women compared to 34 women of color. Before research results are even described, it is clear that a white male with a woman of color as opposed to a white woman with a man of color represents the most reoccurring examples in the por trayal of interracial relati onships in film. Hollywood is apparently reluctant to put a white woman in a role in a film with a man of any other color. The message from Hollywood appears to be very clear for audiences of popular films over the past four decades: White wome n portrayed in an interracial relationship are rare and atypical, and apparently in th e past decade that has become more a trend rather than less and now white women in inte rracial relationships are a portrayal to be avoided. In the literature review, many media scholars are quoted explaining how society is impacted when certain messages are repeat edly portrayed. This frame addressed the opposite: what happens when a message is excl uded? When there are a very miniscule percentage of white women portrayed in an in terracial relationship or none for a decade, the portrayal of the 11 women seems even mo re important. The 11 women in the films under study are “media representatives,” as cultural studies scholar Stuart Hall has identified and these limited portrayals in popular film stand to represent both their gender

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53 and their race. Perhaps that fact alone ma kes the negative portrayal of white women in popular film all the more damaging and significant. The framing analysis revealed a disturbi ng trend in Hollywood’s portrayal of white women who chose sexual or romantic partners of another race in the films under study: there is clearly something socially, morally, or personally wrong with them. Considered in the context of the film’s storyline, their significance to the plot, their interaction with other characters in the film, and their appearance and behaviors, white women in interracial relationships are al ways portrayed either as flaw ed, fragile, or considerably less important than the other characters in the film. No healthy, balanced, or safe portrayal of a white woman in an interracial has been offered in the history of film from 1967 – 2005. On the surface, it may appear that the white woman is pretty, successful, and happy, or even sexually liberated and aggr essive, but upon closer investigation she is always highly dependent and susceptible to the decisions of th e other more powerful characters in the storyline or plot. Unlik e women of color portrayed in interracial relationships, white women do not seem capable of taking care of themselves without a man’s care. They also possess very little sk ill or purpose in life and often appear as an appendage or accessory to the men in the film ’s storyline or plot. They are always beautiful and portrayed as sexua lly desirable but that portrayal is coated in a layer of vulnerability that they seem unaware of identifying for themselves. Specific examples of this will be provided from the films under study in the upcoming descriptions. In what way are the white women portraye d negatively? Of the eleven women in the films under study they are a ll portrayed as socially vulne rable, and most are morally corrupt. The women are shown as victims of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse; drug

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54 addicts; sexually immoral, and socially inept or nave. They have a tendency to create problems for other characters in the film and are presented as needy, dependent, and without a clear purpose in life. More than anything, the most common portrayal of the white women is being self consumed and only interested in what they want: usually sex, drugs, or being taken care of by their non-white partner. The films under study which include white women are: Guess who’s Coming to Dinner (1967); Billy Jack (1971) and The Trial of Billy Jack (1974); Shaft (1971); Blazing Saddles (1974); Cheech ‘N” Chong movies’ Up in Smoke (1978) and The Next Movie (1980); Scarface (1983) and Pulp Fiction (1994). It is interesting to note that white women were mostly portrayed in interraci al relationships in film during the 1970s. This is understandably due to the Civil Ri ght’s and Women’s Movement. Of further interest is that NO women were shown in f ilm in interracial relationships from 1995 to 2005, the period in which the U.S. Census i ndicated interracial relationships were actually growing significantly. The signifi cance of the 1970s as a time of greater interaction between races and the more pos itive portrayal of women in interracial relationships is discussed in greater detail in the findings of the conten t analysis. The role of the white woman in film in the late 1990s and early 2000s appear to have been assumed by the presence of Hispanic. There were no Hispanic females portrayed in any films until this time and Hispanic women in interracial relationships are completely absent from the study before 1994. After 1995, we no longer see any white women in interracial relationships port rayed in the films under study. The way in which the women in the film s under study act, speak, appear, and even survive tells us much about their social si gnificance in the realm of the big screen

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55 portrayal. The violent and se xual treatment of some white women is both disturbing and painfully significant. In Rising Sun (1994), Cheryl Austin, played by Tatjana Patitz, is the beautiful and cold, white female lover of a Ja panese wealthy character, Eddie. She plays the role of the bored, drug addicted, unfa ithful, and sexually deviant women to the extreme. She is watching Eddie, her Japanese lover and keeper, singi ng karaoke in a bar. Obviously restless, she leaves the bar and Eddie comes running after her. He roughly grabs her by the arm and she tells him in a h eavy Southern slow drawl, “I was bored to death." Ironically enough, within minutes, she shows up dead. The camera angles on Cheryl continuously objectify her as a b eautiful woman and her long legs and large breasts are frequently the focus of her presence. Before her death, she is shown sitting in front of a mirror, co mpletely naked, powdering her neck to hide her bruises while Eddie watche s her. She is an excellent example of Laura Mulvey’s male gaze as the audience voyeuristically watc hes Cheryl look at her naked self in the mirror as the audience watches Eddie watch he r look at herself! Ironically, when not looking at herself, Cheryl is l ooking at the television news c overage of her other lover in the film. Eddie is aware of he r indiscretion and laughs at her. In one of her few lines in the film, Cheryl says “I don’t get you, Eddie.” This becomes an understatement as it is later revealed that Cheryl is Eddie’s mistre ss, and he most likely offered her sexually to the American politician as a sign of Japane se hospitality. She is portrayed as a possession of Eddie’s that he controls and is in a position ‘to offer” to another man for his own political and financial benefit. Perhaps the most telling portr ayal of the significance (o r insignificance) of women in the films under study is when Cheryl is show n later in a very expl icit scene having sex

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56 on a conference room table. The angle of th e camera shows that Cheryl is below her male lover who is still fully clothed while her legs and breasts are full y exposed. It is not clear who the male lover is but it is made cl ear that Cheryl is ve ry sexually aroused and continuously begs for more. Within minutes Ch eryl is shown dead lying in the very same spot with her mysterious lover from moment s before missing. As the call is made for special services to investig ate, the American Police officer in a Japanese high-rise building describes her as “lying on the table like a piece of sushi.” Shortly after the discovery of Cheryl’s death, the Japanese bus inessman refuses to assist the American police and cancel the party on the floor below the murder scene because of the death of “a woman of no importance.” In Rising Sun a dowdy and unemotional white female forensics officer reveals to the police that Cheryl may not have been mu rdered at all but is a sexual “gasper” who likes to be choked when she orgasms. Bruises on Cheryl’s neck indicate to the forensics investigator that this is a habitual sexual pr actice used commonly before by the deceased. Although Cheryl’s life is treated as insigni ficant by the men of pow er who stand around her corpse, her death directs th e rest of the film, exposing a corrupt American politician’s wrong doing and an equally corrupt Japanese business world. In the investigation, it is revealed that along with being a sexually de viant pervert and mistress to an Asian man, Cheryl was an unfaithful mistress with a “b ack door man”. When Cheryl’s room is searched by the police, a signi ficant drug problem is also re vealed along with handcuffs, scarves, and ties on her bed. Without direct ly saying so, the film implies that Cheryl was, in fact, like a piece of sushi; someth ing to be enjoyed and consumed. The

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57 comparison between an over-sexualized woma n’s body and raw fish is not lost in translation. The frame of the white woman as flawed a nd fragile is also ma de more significant by the way in which Cheryl, as a white woman in an interracial rela tionship, is portrayed in contrast to an Asian woman. Tia Carrere, as a bi-racial As ian female, is also shown in the film in an interracial relationship. Ch eryl’s lack of decency and insignificance is portrayed in direct opposition with the ethical, intelligent, and loyal portrayal of exotic but elusive Tia Carerre’s character. Like most Asian women in the films studied, Carerre, an Asian woman is portrayed as th e “model minority,” which is a frame to be discussed later in the Framing analysis. As a result of their affairs with Cheryl, both Eddie and the Senator with whom she is also having sex, both end up dead by films end. Despite her beauty and sexual appetite, Cheryl is truly a femme fata le and her death, and the death of the men she had sex with, is treat ed as inevitable. What is made significant in the storyline is not that she was kille d, but that she was murdered by someone of importance. It is also essential to note th at, even after her deat h, she has destroyed the lives of what are otherwise portrayed as decent men. Ironically, the end of the film reveals that Cheryl was not murdered by any of her lovers as suspected, but by a white American male who was concerned that her affair would potentially damage an important busines s deal. Cheryl’s murderer, when faced with the truth about his actions flees and ends up dead, too. We now see that Cheryl is connected to the death of three very successf ul men. She was not onl y flawed herself but she was responsible for the de struction of the lives’ of men with whom she came in contact. The demise of the three men is used to show contrast w ith the two main male

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58 characters in the film played by Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. As an interracial team of professionals, Connery and Snipes portray characters that do not fall into the obvious pit of deception and temptation that is all around them. The portrayal of a white woman, as in Rising Sun as morally, sexually, and ethically flawed though beautiful and desired by all the men around her, is common in the study of the white women in interracial relationships in film. The Portrayal of White Women with Hispanic Men It is interesting to analyze how women ar e portrayed differently when paired with men of a different race. On ly three Hispanic males were portrayed in interracial relationships in the films unde r study. All of the men were partnered only with white women. All of the white women in those inte rracial relationships were portrayed as drug addicted women with no purpose in life but getting high. The three films were: Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke (1978), Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (1980), and Scarface (1991). The negative portrayal of Michele Pfeiffer’s character, Elvira, in Scarface ( 1991) conveys a damaging image as a white, drug-addict ed, frail woman married to the Cuban man who killed her former husband. From her first moments on screen in Scarface, Elvira is portrayed as beautiful skinny, materialist, cold, aloo f, and difficult. There is no doubt that Al Pacino’s character, Tony Monta no, is the star and central character in Scarface Elvira is merely one of many objects that Tony acquires on his empirebuilding from Cuban immigrant to a powerful Miami drug lord. When Elvira first meets Tony, she is already married to the wife of Tony’s mobster boss, Frank. Tony is a Cuban refugee who manages to make his fortune as an assassin and a hit man for Frank, helping Frank to increase his power in the South American drug smuggling world of South

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59 Florida. In Scarface Elvira quickly becomes a conque st that Tony seeks to win along with Frank’s mob power, drug resources, a nd money. Frank is obviously much older than Elvira and she appears to be visibly bor ed by him but he “keeps” her in a lavish lifestyle including a beautiful ocean front Mi ami Beach home, expensive clothes, and an endless supply of cocaine. A normally cool and unaffected assassin, T ony is clearly mesmerized my Elvira’s beauty and strives to impress her and gain he r affection. In a scen e at a night club, Frank offers Tony the opportunity to da nce with Elvira while he is trying to win Tony’s loyalty. We see again in this film, as in Rising Sun that the men offer the women as a form of hospitality to another man. Such a move also takes place in Pulp Fiction when John Travolta’s character takes his Black bosses’ wife, Mia, to go dancing. That relationship is also discussed later in this Frame. Elvira da nces with Tony and it is clear that he desires her. Before her relationship with Tony act ually takes place, she turns down Tony’s advances, telling him flatly “I don’t fuck ar ound with the help.” All this changes, however, when Tony kills Frank and gains his wealth and power. Elvira then changes her mind and marries Tony. In a bizarre scene, Tony kills Frank and then goes upstairs to Elvira’s room to wake up a sl eeping Elvira telling her that Tony is now dead so they can now be together. A sleepy and dazed Elvira is like a bizarre interracial twist to the Sleeping Beauty fable. The implication is clear; Elvira, who on ce rejected Tony as a lover, now accepts him because his financial and social standing has changed and he is eligible to posses her now. The portrayal of Elvira reaches an even lower echelon as she enters into a marriage with Tony, the man who murdered her husband and is clearly a dangerous and mentally

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60 unstable criminal. Elvira doesn’t seem to care about this but is portrayed as accepting Tony as her husband because he is capable of keeping her in her lavish drug-addicted lifestyle. A beautiful scene of a lavish outdoor wedding is s hown with Elvira in a white dress and Tony in a tuxedo. Happy people ce lebrate as the two lovers are united. Although life for Tony and Elvira becomes mo re affluent, the relationship is soon portrayed as turbulent and pain ful. Tony speaks to Elvira in front of other people in a verbally abusive manner. Now that Tony possesses Elvira, it is clear that he values her less, like the power and fortune he now take s for granted. Elvira has no purpose in life other than to be “fucked” by her husband and T ony finally tells her that she needs to get a job or find a cause, like helpi ng lepers. Elvira ignores Tony as she struts back and forth while Tony insults her and her dead husband. Tony is completely insensitive and cruel to Elvira and she continues to act as if she is only concerned with her appearance and her drug supply. Few films in this study show how doomed th e interracial relationship really can be than Scarface The moment in which Tony ultimatel y destroys the relationship with Elvira takes place in an elite restaurant while Tony is wearing a tuxedo and Elvira is wearing a sexy evening gown. In the scene, the image of the coupl e in the expensive restaurant implies that they have clearly “m ade it” financially. Tony is no longer the poor Cuban immigrant. Elvira is si tting at the table looking very thin with dark circles under her eyes. She will not eat. A drunken Tony berates her in a very loud voice. He says that he can’t even have sex with her because she is “in a coma” from taking drugs. He goes on to yell in front of all the restaurant guests: “I’ve got a fucking j unkie for a wife.” The fact that she has a

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61 junkie for a husband is left unnote d. Earlier in the film, Tony has stated that he wants to have a family. He now refers to Elvira’s infertility by shouting at her, “Your womb is polluted.” Elvira gets up saying that she can’t take it anymore and then stubbles away leaving the table and the relati onship, but not before sufferi ng endless episodes of verbal abuse. Elvira leaving Tony is the signal that the end is near for him. He is about to lose all his most prized possessions, including his be st friend, his sister, and his life. Elvira leaves the restaurant and the audience never finds out what happens to her after that. Tony is shown trying to contact her and aski ng his employees if she has called him when he leaves town. He instructs the employees to tell her that he loves her. The audience never learns anything else about Elvira’s fate. Was the audience supposed to care? It is clear that Elvira is only importa nt when in a relationship with the men in the film. She is passed around like a football in a game among friendly adversaries. The films previously described were in th e drama genre of film. White women in other genres are not portrayed any mo re favorably. The females in the Cheech and Chong movies are also shown as motivated by dr ug use in a comedic approach. There is a clear implication that white women with addictions like non-white men. In Up in Smoke when Cheech and Chong pick up a white buxom hitchhiker they ask her how far she’s going and she responds “all the way.” The women of the world of Cheech and C hong also seem very motivated by their sexual appetites. Most of the films portra y the white women intere sted in non-white men as over-sexualized or because of what the non-white men can provide for the white women, be it drugs in The Cheech and Chong Films or social importance in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

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62 The Portrayal of White Women and Black Men In a column in the New York Times on April 24, 2005, Nicholas D. Kristoff makes the observation: “For all the gains in race relations, romance on the big screen remains largely a taboo.” The nega tive portrayal of white wome n in romantic or sexual relationships with black men is an extremel y rare occurrence in American popular film. Again, the rarity of the interracial blending of white women with black men is made more salient by the negative and tr oubled way the relationship and the portrayal of the white woman is constructed by Hollywood. As the li terature review indicated, such a portrayal takes place in a historic and cultural hist ory of a nation with very strained race relationships between Blacks and Whites becau se of the slave narratives, which have gone before. Historically in America, white women created problems, if not death, for Black men who were enslaved. Specific laws in America existed to keep the black man from legally entering into sexual relations with a white woman while no such laws existed for white men entering into sexual re lationships with a bl ack woman (D’Emilio & Freedman, 1998, p. 13). In Reading Race (2002), Norman Denzin points out that “America’s cinematic racial order is a fractur ed, discontinuous system of representation” which was created from the “historical relations hip with the state” (p. 25). The portrayal of a white woman with a black man as problem atic and rare comes as little surprise. The portrayal of a white woma n in an interracial relations hip as an attractive, kept, drug user is not limited to Scarface and Rising Sun but is also prominent in Pulp Fiction (1994). Pulp Fiction is also the last film in the st udy to portray a white woman in an interracial relationship, although the study cont inues to cover a d ecade of films. Uma Thurman’s character Mia in Pulp Fiction is married to a black drug lord who is clearly described as powerful and vengeful, and yet, because of her boredom, Wallace has

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63 arranged for John Travolta’s character to take her out for dinner and dancing. Travolta is warned before ever meeting Mia that the la st man who touched her was thrown from a building by her gangster husband. She is clear ly attractive and seductive, and Mia is obviously interested in seducing hi m. When Travolta is reluct ant to dance with her at the night club, Mia reminds him that his boss told him to take her out and do whatever she wanted. She overpowers Travolta and is por trayed as demanding in a deviant way. Mia is shown snorting coke several times in her short part of th e film. Mia, it appears, is attracted to Travolta and is tempting him to sleep with the boss’ woman. He goes to the bathroom to talk himself out of such a bad move. Mia’s husb and has already been portrayed as a vengeful mobster and Travolta’s character persuades himself that Mia is not worth the obvious sexual chemistry brewing. While he is gone, Mia illustrates her devi ance further by taking a supply of drugs from Travolta’s character’s coat. Here we see how vulnerable and incapable of being independent Mia really is. Thinking the drug she found in his coat was cocaine, Mia snorts it while he is in the bathroom. To further her portrayal as reckless and helpless, she has misunderstood what drug she took and she snorts heroine not cocaine. Clearly, had she been more savvy she would not have done this and to prove how damaging her misjudgment is she is now shown with blood running from her nose while she appears to be in a coma. When Travolta’s character finds her, she is clearly overdosing and he is in a terrible situation. His life will be jeopardized too if his bosses’ wife dies. He is forced to save her life. In an act of desperat ion, he takes Mia to his junkie supplier who dramatically saves her by stabbing he r in the heart with a needle.

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64 While presented on the surface as attractive, interesting and fun, Mia is clearly a very morally compromised and helpless woman. She is shown as a liability to John Travolta’s character placing him in great danger. We have heard in the film before this point how Mia’s husband is prot ective of her and Travolta’s character knows that if the boss’ wife had died of an overdose while unde r his care he was a dead man. Mia is shown as being a reckless young woman in desperate pursuit of a good time. One of the most disturbing traits of most of the white women framed in these films is that they are careless about their own safety and blatantl y disregarding their own life’s value. The implication in the por trayal is clear that they are immoral women who are thereby deserving of ill treatment. Without the wh ite men around her, Mia would have clearly died because of her own bad decisions. She is clearly in the film to make the men around her white or black, look better and to add to their importance. Without the male characters, Mia has no purpose in the storyline and apparently could not even survive. Not all portrayals of white women are as dramatic as Mia’s in Pulp Fiction but offer the same model of dependence and devi ance. In a highly comedic approach to white women’s sexuality, Madeline Kahn is the saloon dancer, Lilly Von Shook, in Blazing Saddles with a big appetite for the new black sheriff she was supposed to betray. Before her sexual romp with the sheriff, we see that Lilly is a sa loon dancer and singer with a wide array of male suitors. She performs a song on stage mocking her role as a sexual woman constantly being pursued by me n singing “I’m tired, sick, and tired” of being with “thousands of men again and again, coming and going -and always too soon.” Her mocking of the men is used for comedy but she is portrayed as a woman who is promiscuous and has literally worn herself out with her sexual deviance. She is also

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65 portrayed as “untrustworthy” and she double cros ses the town’s leader. The mayor of the town recruits Lilly to help him by seducing a nd, ultimately, destroy the new black sheriff. Lilly is clearly a pawn in the mayor’s plan to destroy the new black sheriff. As instructed, Lilly performs her show and then invites the sheriff to her dressing room. The sheriff, of course, cannot resist Lilly’s charm and goes to see her. Lilly claims to be curious to know it if is true what people sa y about black man’s penis size. In a comedic moment in the darkness she yells, “It’s true, it’s true” which sounds like “it’s twue, it’s twue” because of her famous lisp. Lilly is portrayed as being won over by the Sheriff’s sexual powers and she later refuses to give information about the sheriff to his enemies. The formerly bored performer is dazed and amazed at the Sheriff’s sexual prowess. She betrays the mayor and when the local men try to get the informa tion out of her but she will not cooperate. The film concludes with the sheriff loving and leaving her as he lite rally is shown riding off into the sunset with his white side kick character, played by Gene Wilder. Again, we see the ambivalent ending in which the white woman is portrayed as insignificant to the storyline. She is used merely to emphasize the masculinity of the male sheriff and as a deviant ploy by the villainous white mayor. We never find out what happens to her which is the most common outcome for white women in the films under study. The white woman as sexualized and insi gnificant is classically portrayed in Shaft (1971). It is very clear that the leading male character Shaf t is the important focus of the film. The white woman character, Carol, is br iefly portrayed as initiating sex with Shaft when she sees him in a bar. Carol is an attractive woman who has a tendency to touch herself often and act seductively. In her in itiation of sex with Shaft she sends her gay

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66 male friend to tell Shaft that she is intere sted in him. The two men (even though one is gay) discuss her “great boobs”. After Shaft a pprehends two men in the bar, the film cuts immediately to a scene in which Carol is show n caressing Shaft’s cut hand. He then tells her he needs to go take a shower. Not to be deterred from her sexual appetite, Carol surprises him by showing up and getting into the shower with him. The audience sees the couple embracing and kissing behind the froste d glass shower glass door, which clearly shows the darkness of Shaft’s skin in contrast to Carol’s white skin. Shaft apparently leaves Carol in the morning to take care of business at the police station. When Shaft returns to his apartment, he wakes a sleeping Carol up and tells her it’s time to go. His manner is clearly cold and dismissive to Ca rol as if she has overstayed her welcome. Shaft calmly walks away from the bed and then picks up the phone to make a call. Carol approaches him and says “you might be great in bed, but you’re shitty afterwards”. She leaves and that is the last we see of her in the film. Even when white women are not portrayed as drug addicted or sexually deviant, they are portrayed as fragile and vulnerable In the 1967 classic interracial relationship film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, the frame of being fragile continues in the portrayal of Joey. Beautiful, nave, a nd in love with an older black man, Joey surprises her white parents by bringing her black fianc, John, played by Sidney Poitier, home. Arriving unexpectedly from her trip in Hawaii, Joey brings John home and tells her parents that she and John are going to be married soon. Despite the condition of race relations in America in the 1960s, Joey is completely confused and amazed by her father’s objection to the union. She acts as if it is a complete shock to her. She announces to her parents “He’s so wonderful, you will love him in 20 minutes.” Having been raised by liberal

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67 parents, Joey is convinced (s he says so several times in case the audience has any doubt) that her parents will have no objection to John. Not only does Joey’s father have an objection to the union, John’s father also has an objection. Joey didn’t see that possibility coming either. Even the black housekeeper is upset about the id ea of Joey marrying John. Despite John’s urging to “lay it on them gently,” Joey ignores the mature and scholarly John’s advice saying to her mother “I’ve told him 97 times that it wouldn’t make a difference to you or Dad.” Joey also makes the point that John is a very important doctor and then adds the statement that “When I am married to him, I will be important, too.” Joey states no professional or life interests of her own. Her identity will shift from being her parent’s to now being at tached to John’s identify. The idea that her parents might object to their 23-year old daughter marrying a 37-year old black widowed male who lives across the world doesn’t occur to Joey in the clim ate of 1967 America. Such a reality check is impossi ble for the delightfully cheerful and adorable character of Joey. The major acting accomplishments in this film clearly belong to Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and everyone ot her than Joey in this classic film. In fact, this film was hailed as an Oscar Awa rd winning film in 1967. The experience and talent of Poitier, Hepburn, and Tracy is sheer fi lmic joy for an audience that has enjoyed the career of each of these actors as signifi cant to American film. The performance of Joey flounders in the shadow of the cast around her and she is unable to appear as anything other than a pretty accessory. Joey is demanding and refuses to accept anything but what she wants. After much drama, eventu ally Joey’s father gives into her wishes.

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68 This concession has nothing to do with Joey however, but with the amazing job her mother is able to do in changing his mind. Th e mother is clearly c oncerned that Joey will be crushed if she does not get the support of her parents. Th is concern is enough to make her parents overcome their concern for the difficu lties that lie ahead if she marries a black man. Joey gets her man in the end but not be fore the white and black parents experience epiphany. At the surf ace, it appears that Guess who is Coming to Dinner is a tribute to the hopeful future of interracial love in Am erica in 1967. At a closer inspection though the film and its Award winning attention appe ars to pay tribute to the career of many great actors’ capacity to act, rather than the in terracial relationships basis in reality. But if the film is about love, it is a tribute to the love shown between the white parents for each other and their child, and the black parent s and their child. Yet again, in this frame we see that it takes a much deeper explorati on to establish what is really going on with the interaction of characters. Future frames will also examine that Sidney Poitier is the model minority and therefore does not repres ent the typical black male experience in America in the 1960s. White Women as Insignificant In many of the previous ex ample of white women in film the storyline or plot offers the audience no information about what ultimately happens to the white female character at the end of the film. An ambivalent ending in which the audience goes without knowing the outcome for the white wome n in an interracial relationship in the examined films is the most common outcome offered. In seven of the interracial relationships, the storyline does not include an outcome for th e white women. It is as if the woman is so unimportant to the plot or storyline that the audi ence does not need to worry about her future. In Studying Contemporary film: A guide to movie analysis

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69 Thomas Elsaesser and Warren Buckland (2002) point out that film theorists know that film study is “a complex” process of a medi um that is not a “mere form of harmless entertainment, and instead maintains that it is an intrinsically signi ficant medium” (p. 2). It is important, therefore, to consider how films create “meaning”. The lack of information about what happens to certain char acters in a film is a clear indication to the audience that the character is unimportant to the plot and to the world of the main character. It is also meaningful in this frame to acknowledge that only one white woman in the films under study is married, which is the same number as the women who are killed. Another woman is planning to get married whic h means that nine out of 11 women in the study are not married. The outcome for the only remaining woman the audience knows about is that she is gang-raped by white men. In the 36 films under study it becomes apparent that Hollywood frames white women in interracial relationships differently than women of color. With the exception of the character of Jean in Billy Jack, the other white women in the films under study seem to have no purpose or occupations in society. When John Berger made the observation in Ways of Seeing (1977), that "men act and women appear," he may have been referring to white women only. Despite the reality that women are an active part of the empl oyment economy, the majority of the white women have none in the storylines. Unlike the women of color, most white women do not display any specific skills other than sexual skills. The white women seem to have no sense of purpose outside their connection to the man in the film and do not work towards a cause or dream the way most women of co lor are portrayed. Frequently, the white

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70 females are portrayed having no identity of their own but only as an extension of their male partner. It is clear that Hollywood is reluctant to put white l eading females in roles opposite non-white males. Only eleven of the possibl e 540 films of the top 15 blockbuster movies contain a white woman in an interracial re lationship over a 38 year period. It is interesting to note that this trend never in creased over the decades in fact white women do not appear at all in the last decade of th e study. The white female in an interracial relationship in the film under study were fr amed as being less active, skilled, or interesting as the women of color, all of whom possessed some obvious skills. Michele Pfeifer’s character Elvira in Scarface; In Rising Sun Cheryl Austin; Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles and Uma Thurman’s character Mia in Pulp Fiction are clear examples of this overwhelming commonality of white wo men. Though beautiful, their only role in life is to be observed and act as a sexual companion to men who can afford to “keep” them or sexually please them. The white women’s flaw or disorder is obvi ous to the audience in each film. The white females are often “kept” women desp ite their difficult or demanding personality. These women seem to be without family or re al friends and have made life choices which alienate them from “decent” women either becau se they are deviant as drug users or have a very aggressive appetite for sex. Elivira and Mia have significant drug problems and are frequently shown doing drugs. This frame shows that when white women are shown in the films in interracial relationships, they were often portrayed nega tively. Sometimes covertly and sometimes more subtly, over the past four decades it has been clear that the big screen has portrayed

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71 interracial relationships as a negative option for white women who value their moral character or even safety. The message is qui te clear in this Frame: White women who enter into romantic or sexual relationships are portrayed as experiencing hardship and often social isolation in a rela tionship that will most likely bring family strife, death, rape or the unknown. All’s “Fair” In Love and War: The Hiera rchy of Skin Tone in the Portrayal of Women of Color All women of color are not portrayed in the same way even amongst their own race. Bi-racial or fair skinned women ar e commonly portrayed in the films under study as being ambassadors of good. Dark-skinned women are still portrayed as the "femme fatale" who will bring about harm to the good, white male character. Like the Black Widow spider, she is shown as being fatal to her lover. The lighter-skinned women however, are portrayed more favorably. Some women of color are rarely shown in the films compared to the frequent portrayal of Asian women in film. Not only are Asian women portrayed in interracial relationships with white me n more frequently than any other racial group, they are also shown more frequently. Anot her aspect of this racial hierarchy is that the women of color who appear in this film are also partially Caucasian. What do Halle Berry, Lucy Liu, Yvonne E liman, Jennifer Beals and Tia Carrere have in common? All of these women are female actresses who have appeared in one or more of the top 15 blockbuster films in interr acial relationships since 1967. At a closer look, however, the actresses have more in comm on. As bi-racial women, they are used to portraying exotic "women of color" roles wh ile offering very Caucasian features giving them a classic western world beauty and a ppeal. The inequality of the treatment of women in the films under study is a very subtle frame that could be missed if attention

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72 was not paid to their racial heritage. Understanding of the act ual racial heritage of the actresses requires further study than the film itself offers the audience. Tia Carrere for example, is featured in both Wayne's World and Rising Sun as having a relationship with white males. In Wayne's World her character, Cassandra, is ethnically ambiguous and in Rising Sun she plays a bi-racial Black-Asian mixed character. In actuality, Carrere's ethnic her itage as described on her official website (Tiacarrere.com, 2006) describes her as "Filipino, Chinese a nd Spanish". The blend of her racial heritage allows the filmmaker to pa ss her off as an Asia n-black woman instead. In both films, however, Carerre is portra yed as predominantly Asian, giving her the "model minority status" to be discussed later. She is attractive, sm art, and desired by the men around her creating an almost mesmerizing effect. Her physical features, like the other actresses described above are ethnic enough to be desi rable yet white enough to be familiar to audiences. She is portrayed as smarter, sexier, and more interesting than the other white women in the films in which she appears in an interraci al relationship. In both films, the men around her desire her. In each film, men s eek her as a prized possession. There is a phenomena in the films unde r study that the majority of non-white women on the big screen are, in fact, at leas t partly white or pale skinned. The more Anglican looking the female, the more positive or prominent he r character is portrayed. We see this trend repeated over all four d ecades. The presence of Halle Berry in two films in this study illustrate s her popularity as an American film icon. As both a Bond Girl in Die Another Day and a secretary in The Flintstones we see her portrayed as a stereotypical "Jezebel" character that uses her body and sexuality to get what she wants.

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73 Berry is in fact a bi-racial female who wa s raised by her white mother when her black father left them when she was four-years-old (IMD b). She is able to pass as a very lightskinned black woman on the big screen. Like Carerre, fair skinned enough to be familiar while dark enough to be exotic. Dark Skinned, Dark Natured Femme Fatale From this frame, we can also see that women who are dark-skinned are rarely used in blockbuster films and, if used, for the spec ific purpose of making them the villainess or "femme fatale". The only time dark-ski nned women are shown in the study films is usually in a negative role. A very masc uline but sexualized, Grace Jones plays the "Amazonian bad girl" characte r of May Day in James Bond’s A View to a Kill Initially in the film, Jones is the lover/body guard/ assassin of villain Max Zorin played by Christopher Walken. May Day is later double crossed by Zorin in the film and decides she will now do some double crossing of her own. As is expected in a James Bond film, May Day later comes to her senses, having sex with Bond and betraying Zorin. She not only changes sides for Bond but she also looses her life in a suicide mission to detonate a bomb. Bond is saved but May Day dies, with her last words to Bond being “Get Zorin for me.” Even in her final moments she is portrayed as calculating and vengeful. Tina Turner plays the "Acid Queen" in Tommy, an eccentric drug-addicted prostitute who seduces the blind, vulnerab le Tommy, sexually and with drugs at his father's demand -for money. She is portr ayed as morally corrupt, destroying the innocence of the blond, pale blind boy virgin unable to defend himself from her "dark" and evil ways. It may seem that Turner's negative role in Tommy was an era long gone. We see however, that as recently as 2003, Queen Latifah was portrayed as a lying, black female

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74 convict who cons Steve Martin's character in to supporting her. Mar tin is portrayed as vulnerable following a painful divorce. Latif ah is initially shown as a tough and tenacious black woman who is preying th rough online dating from prison on Martin's naive nature. Latifah's character, Charlene, literally gets into a cat fight with Martin's skinny, white former sister-in-law. In cas e there was any doubt a bout the progress made for black women on the big screen at one point in the film, Charlene is actually called "Aunt Jemima," a reference to the stereot ypical "Mammy" characte r of American mass produced breakfast foods. Charlene fights her way through the film defending her self from a racist old white women and a young ma terialist white women. She even has to defend herself from her former black boyfriend who framed her and sent her to jail. The turning point in Charlene's redemption can be seen as she starts to wear her hair straighter and wear traditional white, middle-class clothing. When she goes from looking like an escaped convict to a Junior Service League me mber, the audience is signaled that all will be well for her now that she has abandoned her "ghetto" roots. One of the important issues in this frame is that negative portrayals of women of color with darker skin tones perpetuate a cultura l stereotype that is ra rely discussed due to its politically incorrect nature. The con cern is that "negative media images of racial/ethnic groups simultaneou sly provide individuals with a cultural other alongside a representation of his/her inte rnal fears" (Tamborini & al, 2000, p. 639). Research on mass media programming has alr eady shown that the portrayal of African Americans on television remains "distorted and stereotype d" with African Americans playing "much less prestigious roles" (Tamborini & al, 2000, p. 642). As mentioned previous, in Black Film as a Signifying Practice Gladstone L. Yearwood (2000) makes the connection that

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75 in this culture, skin tone is as much po litical as physical: “For many people . blackness is less a color than a metaphor fo r political circumstances prescribed by struggles against economic expl oitation and cultural dominati on: a state of consciousness that peoples of various pigm entations have experienced, em pathized with, and responded to…” (p. 5). In "Nigger/Lover: The Thin Sheen of Race in 'Something Wild',” Cameron Bailey (1988) gives significant insights into how the concept of "black" has been traditionally associated in Western culture with "all th at is evil and inscrutable. Blackness is inextricably linked with darkness and dar kness means the underworld, the fearsome, the unknowable" (p. 32). In addition to Ca meron, many other media scholars have connected the symbolism of darkness in colo r with darkness in moral character. If frames offer us a "schemata" to assess our re ality, this frame indicates that the limited concept of the binary oppositional is alive a nd well on the big screen. If black and white are the binary oppositional, wh ere one term has privilege over the other as Jacques Derrida has established in Western culture one need not reason long and hard to determine which reigns in th is pair" (Bailey, 1988, p. 32). The portrayal of the black women in the f ilm exists as a fantasy type realm that portrays the black women as spies, entertaine rs, and prostitutes. Of all the women of color’s characters, black females are portrayed as partially positive but mostly negative. They are often shown, as will be discussed later, as needing to be rescued or protected by their white male partner. Such a dynamic reflects a tradition of the black woman as subject to the white male’s colonization a nd conquest. Black women in the film are shown as strong but also as angry and aggressi ve. They are frequently violent or use bad

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76 language. Even the somewhat posit ive character of Rachel in the Body Guard as a very successful and talented entertainer and film star, negates her positive image by showing her as a woman who acts badly and immature ly. She is self-consumed, vain, and ultimately needs her white male body guard to protect her from her own stupidity and vulnerability. The Portrayal of Hispanic Women in Int erracial Relationships: Late Comers Hispanic women portrayed in popular film in interracial relationships have only been shown in top 15 films since 2001. Prior to that, no Hispanic women were shown in interracial relationships in any of the top 15 blockbuster films. In Reading Race Norman Denzin points out that “Hispanic Hollywood” appeared to emerge between the summer of 1987 and the spring of 1988 with films such La Bamba Born in East LA and Stand and Deliver Since these films did not make the top 15 of box office sales for their year of release, they are not in cluded in this study. Th ese films also starred the Hispanic male as the main characters. Hispanic women are the most marginalized female group in this study as there are only three Hispanic females portrayed in inte rracial relationship in the 38 year span of popular films. The Hispanic female is clearly portrayed as barely visible and thereby is given little significance in popular American film. Interestingly, the Hispanic women are not shown with white men in a ny of the films under study. In Rush Hour 2 (2001), Isabella is portrayed as the stereotypical “s assy spitfire” Hispanic woman who is a CIA double agent who enters into a briefly shown romantic relationship with Jackie Chan’s character. Chan is the only Asian male s hown in an interracial relationship in the study which covers almost four decades. His character will be discussed more in the model minority frame.

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77 In addition to being portrayed as th e sassy spitfire, Hispanic women are traditionally portrayed as secondary characters such as sisters and mothers (Tamborini et al, 2000, p. 639). The portrayal of Hispanic women in film at all is rare but has been documented by media scholars as stereotypi cal and limited (Denzin, 2003, p. 32). In the Fast and the Furious (2001), the character of Mia is por trayed as both “sister’ and “sassy spitfire”. She plays the sister of the main character portrayed by Vin Diesel. She also plays the love interest of the white undercove r cop who is trying to arrest her brother for running smuggling and armed robbery ring of cr ime. She is outspoken and feisty, but is also shown as being a very loyal and loving sister. The most recent Hispanic woman portrayed in an interracial relationship in the films under study is in Hitch (2005) when Sarah, a charac ter played by Eva Mendes is shown in a relationship with another model mi nority male, Will Smith. Sarah’s character is also shown as both a sister and a sassy sp itfire. Sarah’s charac ter is a professional gossip columnist who will stop at nothing to ge t her story. She is emotionally guarded, revealing to Hitch’s character played by Smith that her sister’s near drowning as a child has deeply affected her life. Hitch responds that this incident has come to define Sarah. We see in this film that the Hispanic woman is portrayed as the tr aditional loving sister and stereotypical sassy spitfire. Hispanic woman may finally be making it into the big screen top 15 films but their portrayal is extremely stereoty ped, as it is for other women of color. Amerindian Women Women of Amerindian heritage, like Hispanic, women are rarely shown in American popular film and, like white women, have not been shown in an interracial relationship in top 15 blockbuster film since 1990. When Indian women are shown in

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78 films they follow the stereotypical portrayal of Native American women as passive and loyal to their families or tribes. In the popular film star ring Kevin Costner, Dances with Wolves Mary McDonnell’s character lives with the Sioux Indians and looses her Indian husband in battle. She is portrayed positively but also as dependent on her tribe and chief for their permission to love a white man. In Pocahontas, the Indian Princess is shown as very spirited and independent initially but in the end she is shown as being obedient to the wishes of her family and the importa nce of her role in the tribe. In Little Big Man, the Indian women play very minor roles and app ear to serve to show the main character played by Dustin Hoffman as more masculine. He is asked by his Indian wife to have sex with her sisters because they are without a man of their own. The idea of the Indian woman as benevolent and self le ss while spirited is offered in their portrayal setting them apart from the portrayal of other wo men in the films under study. Although more positively portrayed than most other women, th e portrayal of Indian women is done in a historical storyline or plot a nd does not occur in a real or cu rrent portrayal of America. This gives the Indian woman a mythical po rtrayal of a world long gone. There is no portrayal of Indian women in a modern America. It is interesting to note th at Amerindian women are all grouped together as if all Amerindian cultures were the same. This is very common in media portrayal as the distinctive nature of individual culture s is homogenized into one stereotype. Asian Women in Interracial Relationships The theme of Asian women as model minorities and sexualized or erotic women is discussed in this and other frames. It is an obvious and interesting finding that keeps emerging when researching the po rtrayal of interracial relatio nships in popular American film. The portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film is portrayed as positive

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79 or negative depending on the character of th e main male in the film. For example, the portrayal of the white-female, black-male coupli ng historically has been seen as a threat to patriarchy. The portrayal of Asian-fema le and white-male is portrayed in a positive way in Western media (Sun, 2003, p. 657). This is the most common racial coupling found in the films under study. According to Chyng Feng Sun in “Ling Woo in Historical Cont ext: The New Faces of Asian American Stereotypes on Televisi on,” “The pairing of a white male and Oriental female is naturalized and has its colonialist root, manifested in the ‘rescue’ narrative. In the study of films with non-white women it becomes apparent that the role of colonization and “the West’s dominance is secured through narratives of romance and sexuality that justify white man’s posse ssion of the bodies of women of color” (Marchetti, 2003, p. 6). In th e portrayal of women in film, in issues of sexuality, race and ethnicity, are all women created equally? Clearly not, and Asian women are portrayed more consistently positive than a ny other race of woman in the findings. Also, despite the fact that there are more white women in American society than Asian women, this reality is overlooked in the Hollywood wo rld of interracial re lationships. Asian women are portrayed in interraci al relationships as frequen tly as white women and more than any other women of color. The popularity of the Asian woman as white male partner is actually reflected in U.S. statistical records in America (U.S. Census 2000). Asian women in film are portrayed as smarter, more ethical, and less sexually aggressive than their female counterparts in any other race. This is the portrayal of women in Rising Sun, Charlie’s Angels, The Golden Child and the Bond Films in which Asian women appear. In addi tion to being intelligent, As ian women are portrayed as

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80 having a higher moral character than any other group of women. The Asian women as a sexual or romantic partner is portrayed as a more favorable option for white men in the films under study for all these r easons and other reasons that are discussed in more detail in other films. Love You to Death: Interracial Relation ships on the big screen exist in a Violent and Conflicted World Women of color and white women portrayed in interraci al relationships in the films under study live in a difficult and dange rous world. Violence and victim-hood is a common theme in the majority of the films in all four decades. Much research has already been done by media scho lars to show that violence in television has impacted "reality" by "mainstreaming" violence as nor malized (Gerbner et al, 1986, p. 212). In cultivation theory, Gerbner, Gross, Morga n, and Signorelli have de fined violence as defined as "the overt expressi on of physical force (with or without a weapon, against self or others) compelling actions against one's will on pain of being hurt and/or killed or threatened to be so victimized as part of the plot" (1980, p. 213). The majority of films under study involved the portrayal of violence that made verbal or physical abuse seem a normal part of everyday life. Perhaps the most disturbing element of this frame is the implication that getting into an interraci al relationship could be dangerous. Many of the men and women who have interr acial relationships in the films end up dead. Being hurt or killed is a “normaliz ed” portrayal of a possible outcome of an interracial relationship in film. It becomes apparent that an interracial relationship is as likely to result in death then in marriage! For the viewer, this re peated message over so many years offers the warning -interracial relationships result in pain, conflict or possibly death. This frame makes salient th e undesirable nature of interracial sex or

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81 love. The films studied use the interracial rela tionship as an overt or covert form of conflict in which there is a hi gh probability of conflict for women of any color who enter into a union with a man unlike themselves. The interracial relationship is framed in a fantastic world, where violence is not only common but initiated by the woman as we ll as the men. Women do not use violence merely to defend themselves. Women of colo r are show initiating it at times for no apparent reason. The message here is that women of color should be treated with caution. Even in the romantic comedy Hitch (2005) Sarah, the professi onal writer character played by Eva Mendes uses violence when unprovoked. She aggressively kicks a man in the genitals in a public street because he upset her friend. May Day and the Bond Girls are commonly shown as using violence to get reve nge or to enter a restricted area. In the fantasy world of violence, the women with the fantasy jobs like spie s or entertainers are very aggressive and violent. Emotional confusion or conflict was co mmon for the women who were unsure of what action to take, torn by conflicting choi ces (family or relationship), and overwhelmed by life. These women were often portrayed as vol atile and potentially or actually violent. A smart, white male wanting to find a passive partner, might see these portrayals as a reason to stay with the more even-tempered and even passive white female instead. The frame shows that women of color may be beautiful but they can't be trusted to behave appropriately in a social setting. Violence is shown as a very normal or natu ralized way for women of color to solve problems in their world. The women of color have a tendency to be more physically brutal than their white counter parts. Over sexualized behavi or, drug use, violence, lying,

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82 insulting their partners, incarceration, pros titution, stripping, infidelity, embezzling, and sexual perversion are ways the women are framed as being deviant. We frequently see the women of color swearing, fighting, and even killing. Most of the white women are victims of violence, but are not in itiators of violence lik e their more colorful counterparts. The women of color unlike frail women ar e tough and able to defend themselves physically, often by beating up several men at one time. In Wayne’s World Tia Curare’s character, Cassandra, is the lead singer of a rock band who stops a bar fight by using martial arts while wearing a mini skirt and high heels. Using martial arts or violence in this way is common in many of the movies showing the women of color who are dressed provocatively. Queen Latifah’s character Charlene in Bringing Down the House is extremely violent, deviant, and untrustworthy at the start of the movie until she softens later. The film opens with her lying to Stev e Martin’s character online as she develops a relationship with him. She pretends to be a blonde, upper middle-class, white lawyer when, in fact, she is an inmate for committi ng armed robbery. She gets out of jail and manipulates Martin to let him stay with he r in his upper class home. She blackmails him to get her way. She later gets into a majo r cat fight with scene with Martin’s white former sister in law and beats her severely. Charlene is shown as a much larger woman, when angered by racist remarks, beating th e women severely and leaving her hanging on a hook. Although initially tough and decep tive, Charlene shows her caring and concerned side in her treatment of Martin’s children. This, of course is tainted because she does things like teaches hi s son to read by giving him po rnographic magazines. Near the end of the film, Charlene gets into a dangerous fight with her former boyfriend who

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83 has framed her for a crime she did not commit. He actually shoots he r execution style as he over powers her in a fight on a night club dance floor. Lucy Liu as Alex in Charlie’s Angels is also shown initially as a deceptive, violent, domineering, and demanding woman who lies to her nave, white boyfriend and enjoys beating up other people. She wears a tight, bl ack leather suit in one scene and has a room full of male engineers lusting after her as she whacks the desks with her cane with full force occasionally grabbing a man by the hair like a dominatrix. She is portrayed as intellectually superior to the other women in the film and is also portrayed as cold and indifferent compared to the other two more congenial white Angels. Alex is often the leader in a scenario who plays a more vital ro le than her counterparts. As beautiful and intelligent as she is, she explains that he r strength makes it hard for her to keep a relationship. She complains about her rela tionship with men saying “They are all loveydovey until they find out I can break a cinder block with my head.” Violence is included in 30 of the 34 films w ith nearly all of the women in danger at some point in the film. While some are resc ued, a number are not and are killed and/or raped. For some, the abuse they receive is ve rbal though for most it is physical. Some of the women are exotic dancers or prostitutes placing them in the line of danger. All of the “Bond girls” risk being killed in their roles and a number of them are killed or very nearly killed. In fact, they usually die saving Bond or live because he has just saved them. In Scarface Michele Pfeiffer’s character Elvira lives in a violent gangster world where her boyfriend is murdered. In Pulp Fiction Uma Thurman’s character Mia allegedly caused a man to be killed for letting him give her a foot massage. In the Fast

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84 and the Furious, Michelle Rodrigez’s character, also called Mia, lives in a gangster’s world where people are constantly in fear of being killed. Gunshot breaking out at any time is common in the gangster world of film. Even in comedies like Austin Powers in Goldmember, Beyonce Knowles character is held at gunpoint and threat ened with being killed on more than one occasion. Being in an interracial relationship appears to exist in a physically dangerous full of risks to women of any color. The world in which they live is portrayed as unsafe and dangerous. Equality in gender seems to have attract ed violence as a way of showing that women can be just as strong as men on the bi g screen. Media scholar Jean Kilbourne (1999) in her book Can’t Buy my love warned that the objectification of women in mass media advertising not only demeans wome n, but also perpetuates the potential for violence against women. This frame come s with the same cautionary warning. The statistics show that women remain more uns afe in their home than anywhere else in America. A woman is most likely going to be raped or killed by someone she is or was in a relationship with than by a stranger (FBI 2006) so the portrayal of women as victims or violence contributes to our normalizing this situation. If women are almost always victims of violence on the screen then violence is almost to be expected in real life. If showing that violence is a normal part of everyday life is of concern, then an additional concern would be showing the portray ing of the average peti te female as being able to physically defend herself against several men at the same time. This is shown in a number of films with women like Lucy Liu in Charlie’s Angels or Tia Carrere in Wayne’s World overcoming much larger men in groups. This is an equally irresponsible scenario to promote in the mainstream media. Even a woman with extensive martial arts

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85 training or a weapon would be unl ikely to be able to perfor m such a feat. Giving women an unrealistic or even impossi ble portrayal as physically da ngerous when violence is initiated against them by much larger men has serious consequences in society. Violence as a way to solve problems or emotionally expr ess one selves is not an evolutionary step for women in their social standing. The Ci vil Right's and Women's Right's movements did not seek to make violence an equal oppor tunity method of communication. Showing women as strong and dangerous to men does not make them appear more equal or free. It also does not reflect what is in reality, a very unacceptable phenomenon of violence and sexual violence against women and children in ou r society on a daily basis. This frame is further examined in the content analysis st udy which offers specifics about the role of violence in the films under study. “Gender Benders”: Women in Interraci al Relationships Failure to be the Traditional Female. The previous frame that shows how white women are more likely to be victims of violence, and women of color are more likely to initiate violence leads us to the next dominant frame: women in interracial rela tionships in the films under study are mostly portrayed as less feminine than women traditionally. This is an interesting frame because if the social construction of gender portrays women as traditionally feminine when they are: physically attrac tive, deferential, emotional, nur turing, and concerned with people and relationships (Woods, 2006, p. 23), does goi ng outside of the construct portray the women negatively? Are they actually not "real women" when th ey are less feminine because it means they are acting like men? Or does it portray them as defying tradition and being more independent? We will examine this more closely to identify what is the greater meaning behind this frame.

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86 On the surface, the women in the films under study appear to initially be feminine. All of them are physically attractive and only one woman in 36 films is overweight. But, that is the most common, if not only true aspect of the init ial portrayal of the women in interracial relationships that m eets the criteria. The traditional masculine traits of being strong, ambitious, successful, rational, and emo tionally controlled are often seen within the portrayal of the women in the films under study. Other research on women in media illustrates the importance of gender in media portrayal. Femininity according to Allan Johnson in Patriarchy is tricky: “femaleness isn’t de valued entirely. Women are often prized for their beauty as object s of male desire, for example, but as such they are often possessed and controlled in wa ys that ultimately devalue them” (1997, p. 167). The women are shown as "beauty objects" a nd in a number of the films that is all the women are portrayed as being. They don't have any other attributes in the storyline than being lovely to look at and watch. So in what ways are the women portrayed as less than feminine? The most obvious issue is th at most of the women very self-consumed and uninterested in what other pe ople think or want. In almost all of the films, women in the relationship are shown as being self-c onsumed, difficult, defiant, domineering or demanding. Even in Guess who is Coming to Dinner sweet and adorable Joey is portrayed as a difficult and demanding young wo man who insists that her parents accept and even embrace her older, black fianc. As much as she claims to love her parents, she is clear that what she wants is the most important aspect of her decision making. It is clear in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) that Mary Magdalene's relationship with Christ is creating problems with his friends and followers. Despite this, Mary played by Yvonne Elliman, continues to parade in front of them showing her devotion

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87 and affection for Christ while disregarding what their opini on is of her, a former prostitute. In The Bodyguard, Whitney Houston’s character Rachel is a superstar rock singer in need of protection from a perverted stalker. Kevin Costne r’s character, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect her. In the be ginning, she is rude and insulting to him while frequently ignoring his advice a nd swearing at him. She is di va-like and acts badly to her sister (which might have provoked her to hire the stalker and kill her) and her staff. She is confrontational with Farmer saying “no fuck ing freak is going to run me off the stage”. She, of course, later softens and then seduces him. Rachel tells him, “you probably won’t believe this but I have a reputa tion of being a bitch.” Rach el is difficult and demanding only to later show herself as a scared woman who is terrified a bout the safety of her son. Her violent bitchiness, like Halle Berry’s, Queen Latifah’s Lucy Liu’s, and Tia Carrere’s characters, all seem to dissolve into benevolence as she is “transformed”. Although many of the white women are shown as passive in that they don't have jobs or seem to do much, with Elvira in Scarface played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Mia in Pulp Fiction played by Uma Thurman and the charac ter of Barbara in Billy Jack, they seem to be completely uncaring about what other people think about them and their behavior. Elvira's character is openly difficult, demanding, demeaning, and almost appears to be emotionally devoid of feeling. This could be because of the large amount of drugs both she and Mia in Pulp Fiction are portrayed as consuming! Conflicted or confused is another way wo men are framed in the films under study. In almost all the films the women are at so me point torn about what to do. They are portrayed as not passively going along with what other people want. Hollywood films thrive on such storylines. At the start of the films, most of the women are dreaming out

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88 loud of something they wish for or they seem confused about in their lives. In Flashdance Jennifer Beals’ character is conflicted as a welder by day and a stripper by night. She secretly dreams of becoming a ballerina. She shows her anger at one point in the film by vandalizing he r boyfriend's house out of frustration. The frame is emerging that women in inte rracial relationships in the study are not traditional females and defy conformity. Most, however, eventually learn the important moral lesson that being devi ant really does not pay in a moral society. The women of color, like the white women, are framed as untrustworthy and capable of creating conflict. In the Flintstones, Halle Berry’s character of th e seductive secretary to the dumb Fred Flintstone, finally gets tired of deceiving Fred after she and her white boyfriend executive have used Flintstone to embezzle millions. In her closing lines, as she is being taken away in handcuffs by the pol ice, she turns to Flintstone and says “I’ve been a very bad girl – but I was very good at it.” Halle Berry play s a tough and deceptive American agent in the James Bond Film Die Another Day. Her character, Jinx, lies to Bond several times and acts rudely to get her wa y. As he takes her to bed, Bond says to Jinx, “I’ve missed the love of a good woman,” to which she replies “Who says I’m good?” Gender communication scholar Ju lia Wood (2006) explains in Communication, Gender and Culture that gender is learned ( p. 23). As discussed prev iously, it is a social construct that people experi ence from birth through persona l interactions, in media images, and the view's of gender that permeate pub lic and private life. It is clear in this frame that when women step outside of the traditionally feminine role and adopt more masculine roles, they must be prepared to suffer or to placate to their more feminine

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89 traits. For example, as powerful, intelligen t, and domineering as Lucy Liu's character Alex is in Charlie's Angels, it is obvious that her possible ove r-masculine traits of strength, ambition, and smart are minimized by her extremely sexy outfits and her inability to cook. Alex is shown as being a notoriously bad cook who seeks to please people with her food. She is also portrayed as a very feminine and vulnerable stripper, Middle Eastern belly dancer, Asian masse use and Swedish yodeler to off set her threatening traits. Another aspect that connects many of the women in the films is their ambition. Very often women are shown as striving to have more and be more than they are. Just like with Alex's character, these women e xperience difficulty to show how vulnerable they are and how they need someone, (always a man) to rescue them or move them ahead in life. Although many of the women act, behave, and talk tough, as if they were independent women, by the end of the film (o r usually their relationship which may not make the length of the film) they have been transformed and returned to their "natural" state of caring more for othe r people than they do for themselves. Those women who do not experience this "enlightenment" to their feminine self usually end up dead or dumped in the storyline. The frame offers the salience that female success involves the female character’s capacity to keep her masculinity as secondary to her traditionally feminine traits – that, of course, is if she wants to survive. It is es sential in many of the films that the women maintain a degree of feminine vu lnerability so they can be rescued by the main male character in the film. This w ill be discussed further in a later frame.

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90 The "Super-Model" Minority: Women of Co lor as Exotic, Erotic, and Exceptional; Men of Color as the Perfect Gentleman It is clear after viewing these films that most interracial relationships in Hollywood’s most popular films consist of a white male with a woman of color. When a white man is portrayed in a sexual or romantic relationship with a woman of color, then the woman of color is usually shown as erot ic, exotic, highly attractive, and capable of exceptional talents. The exceptional talents of the woman are usually complimentary to the skills of the man portrayed in the film. When a white woman or woman of color is shown with a man of color in a film, he is often shown as a model minority male such as Sidney Poitier in Guess Who’s coming to Dinner, Will Smith in Hitch and Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2 These men are portrayed as perf ect gentlemen who never exhibit any threatening sexual behavior. It is interesting to note that in Enter the Dragon and Shaft the black males are shown as sexually powerfu l but they are “presented” with women and do not actively seek the sexua lity of the woman. The women of color in the films unde r study are no ordinary women and exhibit super talents or abilities, giving them skills which are almost “unreasonable” or unrealistic. Dancing, singing, performing, martial arts, weaponry, electronics, athleticism, spiritualism, se xual secrets, problem solving, sky-diving, highly intelligent and seduction are ways in which the women of color are framed as “above average.” Alex in Charlie’s Angels is a sky diving, computer hacki ng, black belt martial artist who can defeat a room full of men – her only mi sgiving is that she is a bad cook. In Rush Hour 2, Roselyn Sanchez’s Isabella character is a double agent who serves as a U.S. Secret service officer who is playing both the role of a crooked customs agent and a lover

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91 to the Japanese gangster. She shows incredible strength and skill in her catfight with an Asian martial artist female who has killed many men in the film. In recent years, Halle Berry has been portr ayed as the ideal model minority female. As Mark A. Reid (2005) describes in Black Lens, Black Voices: African American Film Now Berry’s roles in films recently cast her as the “sole black in a leading or supporting role, giving her a career traject ory similar to those of black male actors such as Denzel Washington and Cuba Gooding, Jr.”(p. 97). Hall e Berry, as Jinx, places her in a role as the sole black character of significance in Die Another Day. As is required of a “Bond Girl,” Jinx is portrayed as not just a martial artist but she is also a brilliant computer hacker who solves mysteries that even B ond is troubled with. She also, of course, possesses the sexual skill to lure and keep Bond as a lover until the films ve ry last scene despite his sexual escapades with other women during the film. Women of color are frequently shown as having skills that mystify every one else in the film. In Rising Sun, Tia Carrere’s character, Jingo, is an electronics expert who solves the murder of Cheryl Austin with her knowledge of digital equipment when no one else can. Pocahontas is a psyc hic, an athletic and a wise young woman who learns to speak English instantly by listening to her he art and the wind blow. She is also capable of courageous feats like divi ng off high cliffs into water and defying the wishes of her father, the tribes’ chief. She is able to communicate with animals and has a mystical ability to understand the future. Charlotte Lewis’ character in the Golden Child also posses the amazing psychic, spiritual, and physical attribut es that Pocahontas demonstrates She is capable of leaping over tall walls or from high buildings, usually just wearing Eddie Murphy’s shirt and her

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92 underwear. The women of these films are re markably smart, energetic, talented, and resourceful. This is often in comparison with the portrayal of the white women in these films whose greatest accomplishments appear to be that they can do a large amount of drugs. This is apparent in Rising Sun, Pulp Fiction, Scarface and Cheech and Chong’s Up in Smoke. Women of color apparently have much more to prove to earn their role in the film. We frequently see females in the films dancing or performing while men watch them. This is true in the Karate Kid II, Flashdance, Char lie’s Angels, Blazing Saddles, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Bringing Do wn the House, Pulp Fiction, Scarface, Tommy, The Bodyguard, and Wayne’s World In many of the films, the women use dancing to be seductive. A number of the women are exotic dancers like in Flashdance, when Jennifer Beals’ character is dosed in la rge volumes of water as she pulls a shower lever on stage. Uma Thurman’s character love s to dance and insist s that John Travolta dance with her in the memorable scene in Pulp Fiction These women all seem to love to dance and want men to watch them while they dance. This frame shows how women are often the object of the “male gaze” in film. Queen Latifah’s character Charlene in Bringing Down the House dances erotically with Steve Martin to show hi m how to be “an animal” so he can win back his wife. Kevin Costner in the Bodyguard privately watches film of Whitney Houston dancing and singing on stage. There is a form of voyeurism that takes place for the men in the film and for the audience as they watc h the women move. Few scenes of dancing are as powerful or disturbing as Tina Turner in Tommy as she plays the Acid Queen. She is working in a brothel and is paid by Tommy’ s stepfather to have sex with the deaf and

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93 dumb young man. In a series of dramatic moves, Turner da nces seductively around Tommy assuring him that he “will be a boy no more.” Wearing lingerie and revealing outfits, she promises pleasure to the scared young man while she waves the large syringe she holds in her hand. Model Minority Males: The Perfect Gentlemen Media scholars have writte n extensively about the career of Black Actor Sidney Poitier. In addition to being the first black ma le to win an Oscar Award for his role in a film, he was a pioneer in the portrayal of black men as professiona l and sophisticated. Gladstone L. Yearwood describes that after World War II the portrayal of black men in Hollywood began to change and Sidney Po itier’s presence in American film was important: “For Blacks, Poitier’s screen pers ona was one of intelligence, quick wit and controlled circumstances” (2000, p. 39). Such a portrayal of black men was ne w to Hollywood and as Norman Denzin describes, Poitier was embraced because “he was a paragon of white, middle-class values. He was intelligent, educated, a conservative dresser. He did not carry the cultural baggage of the black ghetto” (2000, p. 29). Mo st importantly, Denzin explains, Poitier was perceived as “non-threatening.” This study begins with Poitier’s interracial relationship in Guess who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) is which he conveys the attributes described by previous media scholars. In his bid to marry the young, pretty, and careful white woman, Joey, he seems as likely to lecture her as to have sex with her. He is portrayed as an important doctor and a well-dr essed, articulate, and educated man. He is, nonetheless, a black man and in 1967, br inging a black home for dinner created problems. Even the black housekeeper admoni shes Poitier for stepping above his station in life. His parent’s are opposed to hi m marrying a white woman, though no one seems

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94 to question for a moment why such an inte lligent, mature, handsome, and wealthy man would want such a needy and nave wife? Apparently, Joey was white and pretty, and that in and of itself made her desirable. Sidney Poitier’s career was also significant because it paved the way for other minority males to make it on the Big Screen. In Black Skin, White Mask (1967), Frantz Fanon states “. . the Black man cannot take pleasure in his insularity. For him there is only one way out, and it leads to the white world . He requires a white approval” (p. 51). Fanon wrote these statements in the same year that Guess who is Coming to Dinner was released. As the Civil Right’s moveme nt moves away from its pinnacle years, Hollywood made way for black model mi nority men who were embraced in the mainstream. Since the 1960s, the path of other mainstream black actors has followed a similar trajectory. We also see th e role played by Eddie Murphy in the Golden Child (1986) as an example of Murphy’s mainstream popularity in the 1980s. It is interesting to note that although Murphy was often the only black person in many of the films which made him popular, he was never coupled w ith a white woman and was instead paired with an Asian Woman. In 2005, Will Smith is included in this study fo r his title role as Hitch Smith, a former popular music and televi sion star, has been the mainstream, black leading man in the 2000s that has also NOT been cast as the romantic interest of a white woman in a popular film. In Hitch he is paired with Hispanic Actress Eva Mendes. Hitch is played by Smith as a well-educate d, well-dressed, and arti culate black man; almost identical to the manner of Poitier in 1967. It appears that for the black male model minority, little has ch anged in 38 years of film.

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95 In 2001, an Asian model male minority is filled by Jackie Chan’s role in Rush Hour 2 Chan is also portrayed in this film with a Hispanic female. She is a very intelligent and feisty double agent w ho initiates a kiss with Chan in th e very last scene in the film. Chan is always the perfect gentlemen, which is played in contrast to black actor Chris Tucker’s inappropriateness. In a scene when Tucker and Chan are shown driving in Los Angeles, Chan says to Tucker: “American women like me. They think I am cute.” In the same tradition pioneered by Poitier, Chan is not seen as a threat in a white, middleclass world. He is a powerful and entertaini ng martial artist and a good friend, but he is not, in any way, portrayed as sexually menacing or threatening. In one scene, Tucker’s character and Chan’s character are watching the female double agent across the scene in her underwear. The voyeurism of Chan’s ch aracter implies that he understands he can look, but ever the gentleman, Chan never seek s to touch without being given permission. He does thereby remain, one of only two As ian males portrayed in an interracial relationship in a top 15 film during the 38 years of this study. This sta nds in stark contrast to the finding that Asian Women are the most frequently shown woman of color in the same study. The Mary Magdalene Frame: Unworthy Women Who Distract Men from their Mission in Life Women in the film are often used to dist ract or destroy the man on his path to success. This frame gets its name from the archetype of Mary Magda lene but also from the character in the film under study in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) The portrayal of the woman as a distraction from anything mean ingful is very common in these films. The role of the woman is often minor or uni mportant compared to the huge role of the male as the savior of his company, countr y, or society. She is, by contrast, overlooked

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96 and inconsequential. Her only significance is to make his life better whether it is for a moment or the entire movie. There are many women portrayed in the films under study, especially prostitutes (which is the alleged profession of Mary Magdalene), who briefly appear in the film and appear to have ab solutely nothing to do with the plot. A disturbing element of this trend is that it is typically not merely one woman who is distracting the man from his mission, but often a group of women at the same time. We see this in Enter the Dragon where a black, male supporting character, Black belt Jones played by Jim Kelly, gets a late night visit from a madam with a group of women to offer him. He chooses an array of women to stay and please him. In the James Bond film On her Majesty's Secret Service the same type of scenario is used when Bond is entertained by a group of women who are listed in the cast cr edits by their ethnicity: Irish, Jamaican, Chinese, and so on. They ar e not even given names. The women in the film are supposed to be patients who are sufferi ng with allergies but who are really going to be used by the Villain to spread mutated viruses throughout the Globe. In some cases the woman is not merely a threat but is the ac tual downfall of the man, who is deviant in the film. Elvi ra is prophesized to bring down Tony in Scarface John Smith’s obsession with Pocahontas is clearly going to bring trouble to the British settlers as it invokes the anger of the Indian warrior. Wayne in Wayne’s World gazes upon Cassandra chanting “She will be mine.” Women are visibly lusted after in this movie and this is part of their power over me n. It is also evidence that the women are usually seen as objects to possess. The men wh o have leading roles in the film are central to the storyline. The women who are usuall y supporting or minor ch aracters are used as ploys that the heroic man must overcome.

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97 In the Fast and the Furious (2001), Paul Walker plays the white blonde male undercover agent who puts his life in danger by entering the Hispanic area of the Barrio to solve a major crime ring. In the film, he poses as a street-racing car enthusiast with a crush on Mia, Vin Diesel’s characters sist er. The plot predictably shows Mia as a liability to the undercover cop’s mission. His fellow white law enforcement agents warn him that his feelings for Mia are compromisi ng his ability to solve the crime and to see the situation for what it really is. She is portr ayed as a beautiful dist raction that puts the main character in danger of losing not only his cover, but his life. In Hitch (2005), Sarah’s character, played by Eva Mendes, threatens to destroy Hitch’s career as a date doctor. Angry at him, she reveals hi s secret identity in her gossip article robbing him of his anonymity and pr osperous business. His business is completely devastated by her writing in the newspaper and his client’s immediately suffer, too. The very likeable characters who have found love because of Hitch’s incredible ability to attract women are also devastated by Sarah’s selfish and professionally driven motives. Sarah later goe s to Hitch and apologizes for what she has done and acknowledges her role in his demise. In Pulp Fiction Mia’s taking a drug over dose wh ile out with John Travolta’s character clearly places him in a very vulnerabl e position. It has been made clear in the movie that Mia’s black husband is a mobster who would kill a man for his treatment of Mia. Desperately, Travolta’s character tries to save Mia’s life by taking her to his drug dealer’s home realizing that if she dies his own death is imminent. When Queen Latifah’s character, Charlene, is in danger in of being shot and killed by her boyfriend, a

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98 very white but determined Steve Martin journe ys into the ghetto to save her when clearly he could be killed in the process. The women are frequently portrayed as put ting the men in danger or serving as a distraction from some very important mission that may or may not include rescuing the woman from herself. This portrayal is discussed further in the next frame. The White Male Fantasy: Skin, sex, subservie nce and Saving the Damsel in Distress. In Reading Race, (2002) Norman Denzin points out that the Hollywood film often contains the “kernel of utopian fantasy” (p. 8). The complex racial history of the United States has been played out in the cinematic representation in American popular film, placing the white man in a critic al role of leadership in which, “the white man’s burden obliges white to lead non-whites into full assimilation” (Denzin, 2002, p. 2). The importance of the white man’s role in the portrayal of interracial relationships in film becomes very apparent in this study. The frame that emerges in the study of popular films over the 38 year period of this study is th at the world reflected on the big screen is clearly a white male fantasy in which all women are young, attractive, and sexually available. There are no older women in any of these films and, as mentioned before, only one is overweight. The women are constantly portrayed as sexualiz ed by wearing very sexy clothing or even by initiating sex. The majority of women in this film are portrayed as sexually available to the men in their worl d and dispensable shortly after sex has been traded between partners. Very often the wo men in the films are shown as vulnerable or in a bad situation. This becomes crucial to the storyline because the male protagonist becomes the hero when he completes the impossible important mission before him. It is clear that most of the women play supporting or minor roles and thei r main purpose in the film is to look good or to make the male leading character look good.

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99 Clearly the fact that very few interracial relations hips exist in top 15 Blockbuster films reflect a world in which race is a divisi ve issue. The coupling of mostly white men with women of another race also shows that a minority man with white women is not a highly-valued coupling. The white male with a woman of color portrayal is the most common interracial relationship shown in popular film and light-skinned women are clearly preferred as interracial partners for white men. According to cultural critic Toni Cade Bambara, a history of colonization play s a major role in race and gender politics in American Media: The creative imagination has been colonized. The global screen has been colonized and the audience – readers and viewers – is in bondage to an industry. It has the money, the will, the muscle, and the propaganda machine oiled up to keep us all locked up in a delusional system – as even what America is. (1996, p. 140) American film’s domination in the Gl obal media markets means that Hollywood has created a “world industry, just as much as it is a world language, a powerful, stable, perfected system of visual communication. As su ch it represents real power, not just in and through cinema” (Elsaesser & Buckland, 2002, p. 4). It is impossible to consider this frame w ithout exploring the si gnificance of eight of the films in the study, all Jame s Bond films. The representa tion of James Bond films in the study spans the years from 1967 until 2002. In addition to representing “an imperialist code,” the Bond films also support another changing front: the sexual relations between men and women in the 1960s Bond not only conquers the villain but also the heroine or “girl.”1 Like the villain, the ‘girl’ in need of Bond’s assistance was usually “out of place, either sexually, in the sense she is initially resistant to Bond, or ideologically in that she is in the service of the villain, or both” (Chapman, 2000, p. 33).

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100 Bonds physical and mental conque st of women in the film wa s important to restating the social order between genders a nd nationalities. As the enemie s of the United States and Britain changed over time, so did the villains in the Bond films. Critics of Fleming’s books often point out that Bond’s character was launched the same year as the Playboy “the first mainstream por nographic magazine” (Chapman, 2000, p. 36). The Bond films in the 1960s cemented relationships with Playboy, formalizing the photo-article f eature of the “Girls of James Bond” promotion. The women of Bond were as central to the popularity of the films as the character of Bond and his high-tech gadgetry in the films. The promotional posters for the early Bond films show that two essential elements are need ed for Bond’s Blockbuster success: James needs a gun and a girl or sometimes severa l girls (Chapman, 200, p. 38). As former Bond girl, Maryam D’Abo, remarked “t here have been Bond films without megalomaniac villains, without Q’s gadgets but there has never been a Bond film without a Bond woman.” The marketing us e of the Bond girls of the 1960s was no exception to his and their images that were used extensively to promote the films. The images were seen in mainstream magazine s, television commercials, movie posters, and theater trailers: “The Bond girl s of the sixties were everywhere; on television, in music in advertising, in fashion” (Ladenson, p. 188). Denning points out “t he James Bond tale can be rightly seen as an important form of the mass pornography th at characterizes the consumer society, the society of the spectacle that emerges in Western Europe and North America in the wake of post-war reconstruction” (Denning, 2003, p. 70). Despite a few martial arts moves or acts of betrayal, the Bond gi rls were subjected to more than their fair share of “power lessness” from the Bad guy and from Bond. The

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101 rate at which leading ladies are killed or disappear in a Bond film is an important statement about the “replaceable value” of a B ond girl. It is interesting to note that actresses were so “replaceable” that the same actress would be used to play different characters in a future B ond film. Actress Mai Ling was cast to play Mei in Goldfinger (1964) and then was used to portray another character in You Only Live Twice This was specifically true for ethnic ac tresses in the Bond girl leg acy when many ethnic actresses were unacknowledged for their performances in the cast. When the popular original Bond, Sean Conne ry, completed his contract, Australian model George Lazenby was hired as his replacement. (Rubin, 2003, p. 227) The public had become used to Connery as Bond and the change in leading men created an issue for the producers. The Bond girls’ images we re used to solve this problem in the promotional efforts of Lazenby’s role as Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In On her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond falls in love with Dia nna Rigg’s character Tracy and actually marries her. True to the novel of th e same name, Tracy was later killed in the film on their Honeymoon leaving Bond devastat ed. Tracy’s strong character challenged the role of Bond Girls as “passive playthings ,” but the 12 female pa tients at Blofelds’s clinic are portrayed as mindless “brainwash ed” beauties of various ethnicities that flocked to adore Bond. He seduces two of them before the films end, reminding audiences that even though in the film he ge ts married, Bond has not lost his appetite for women (Chapman, 2003, p. 145). Perhaps the status of Bond girls and wo men in the world of the 1960s is best summarized by the character Tanaka in You Only Live Twice, when he tells Bond: “In Japan, men come first; women come second.” The sales figures for On Her Majesty’s

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102 Secret Service were lower than the previous thre e films (Chapman, 2003, p. 145). The change from Connery to Lazenby, the sad ending with Tracy’s murder and other factors all seemed to indicate that Bond might be a “relic of the past” (Sanger, 2004, p. 200). The reliance on violence in the film also seemed to have lost its appeal in an era that saw the violent loss of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. The images of the Vietnam War dominating the tele vision may have also contributed to this change in audience’s appetites for gratuitous violence on the big screen. By 1968, American women were heavily dependent upon the medical technology of the oral contraceptive but as Alexa nder Sanger, grandson of Margaret Sanger, contraceptive pioneer, points out the use of hormonal contra ception may “have led to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases, wh ich can cause infertility, premature death, and bad birth outcomes” (Sanger, 2004, p. 134) What happened in the sixties was indeed significant for impacting future genera tions. Those who lived through the sexual revolution of this era or those who study th e period now may disagree on the impact it had but historian scholar Arthur Marwick explains that “left, center and right do seem to agree that, for good or ill, something significant happened in the sixties” (Maxwell, p. 4). In 1970, Germaine Greer published the Female Eunich announcing that the book was “part of the second feminist wave” ( p, 152). Greer revealed that the sexual revolution did not necessarily le ave women feeling free at all: Any woman who goes to bed with a man for the first time knows that she runs the risk of being treated with contempt. Her chosen loves may leave or may turn his back on her immediately after his orgasm a nd fall, or pretend t o, asleep; he may be laconic or brisk in the morning: he may not call again. She hopes that he will not discuss her disparagingly with her friends. (Greer, 1970, p. 252) Although the women’s movement earned suc cess in the Supreme Courts during the 1960s for Equal Pay and Equal employment, establishing sexual equality proved more

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103 challenging on and off-screen. By early 1970s, sales for Playboy circulation began to fall for the first time (Miller, 2003 p. 189). The use of the female body as an arena for male conquers in media was starting to come unde r scrutiny as many feminists entered the academic realm. In the 1970s, Laura Mulvey’s coined the term “male gaze” in her work “ Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema ” and film students woul d never view the Bond Girl’s or other Hollywood beauties the same way ever again (Mulvey, 1975, p. 12). Joan Mellen in Women and their Sexuality in the New Film (1975) criticized the films of the previous decades: One searches in vain in the contemporar y cinema for a new perception of women, which assumes their capacity and value. An international and rapidly developing women’s movement has induced the cinema to be only slightly more self-conscious about its patronizing and hostile portrayal of women as flawed creatures. (Mulvey, 1975, p, 15) As media historian James Ch apman explains, the use of the Bond girls in the films “do lend credence to Mulvey’s thesis” (p. 84). The Bond girls seemed to freely engage in such sexual activity w ith an irresistible James Bond – but no Bond girl ever faired well beyond the mo ment of Bond’s attention passed and he was on to the next Bond girl. Off-screen, rarely did an appearance in a Bond film launch a major movie career for any Bond girl as anything other than a model, unless she had a successful acting career before her Bond appearance. The “replaceable value” of a generic Bond girl appeared to be valid on and off the screen. Marwick questions whether or not the sexual revolut ion really benefited the girls at all: But was this sexual liberation for women, or simply enhanced liberation. For men, a grand occasion for the even more ruthle ss sexual exploitati on of Women? It would be hard to deny that the general l oosening of prohibition s, inhibitions, and the equalizing of rules and codes as between men and females were of enormous benefit to women, and increased opportunities for fulfillment and happiness. But that could be true in gene ral, while at the same time bearing down excessively on women, depriving them of genuinely free c hoices and forcing them into activities

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104 which they did not enjoy and perhaps even found unpleasant; or at any rate left them feeling oppressed used, exploited, tr eated as objects with out individuality, without humanity except as expressed through the sexual interest of a male lover. (Marwick, 1998, p. 160) Bond is not the only hero in the films unde r study that show the white man as the hero. In fact, this seems to be the main plot in most, if not all, of the films that include a white male as a main character. In most instances, this study offers the White male as savior. For example, John Smith is shot tryi ng to save Pocahontas’ fa ther, the chief, from being shot. He is clearly por trayed as saving the savage In dians from annihilation. In Jesus Christ Superstar Christ is clearly the salvation of a 1970s version of a lost and troubled humanity. In the Fast and the Furious, the undercover white male cop comes to the rescue and saves all the Hispanic char acters from the Barrio, risking not only his career in law enforcement but also his life. In the Body Guard Kevin Costner’s character, Farmer, saves Rachel, played by Whitney Houston, on several occasions not merely because he is her bodyguard but because he is in love with the shrew, black woman no one else can get close to in her life. He dramati cally saves her in a number of scenes risking his life in the line of duty. White men also serve in an important role to inspire and motivate the people around them in the films under study. In Hitch, although Will Smith is the leading man in the film, when his life appears to be in ruins, his career lost and the leading lady long gone, it is a speech from his heavy-set white clie nt Albert Brenneman that allows Hitch to re-emerge and win the girl and the day. In The Karate Kid II and Flashdance both women dream of becoming a famous dancer a nd, in both films, it is their white male partner who encourages them that their dr eam is possible despite the obvious obstacles the women fear.

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105 This role of the white male as the hero is extremely common in popular narrative film and almost to be expected. It is inte resting to note that th e only films that do not place the white male as the obvious hero, Tommy and The Flintstones pair the white man with a black female. In every film in which a white man appears, he a leading character and is critical to the positive outcome of the film. If the white male in the interracial relationship is not the hero, as in The Flintstones then another white male will be the hero. In a film where the male is non-white and portrayed as the he ro, he is usually the model minority male such as charac ters portrayed by Jackie Chan in Rush Hour or Eddie Murphy in The Golden Child This frame also offers a deeper insight in to the true hero in the film or “power broker,” which is often a covert or hidden message. For example, in Charlie’s Angels although on the surface the three women employees may seem like the heroes of the film, their bravery, beauty, and skill is all attributed by the end of the film to their unseen, but revered boss, Charlie. In the Oscar-Award winning Guess who’s Coming to Dinner although Sidney Poitier may appear to be the leading male in the film, the power of the decision about the interracial relationship really belongs to Joey’s father, played by Spencer Tracey. The older white man, is indeed the one who changes his mind about opposing the relationship and in doing so, allows the movie to have it’s optimistic ending. Sidney Poitier’s character, John, makes it clear that he will not marry Joey without her father’s consent. He is far too much a gentlemen and model minority to do otherwise. As explained previously in the study, this frame reminds us of the important point that film creates meaning. For the global film market it is clear that if the American Film

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106 is a cultural colonizer, the white male is it s hero when his sexual or romantic partner represents another race. R2:Are sexual or romantic relationships fram ed as central to the lives of the women in the films under study? It is interesting that for most of the women of color, the relationship is not portrayed as being central to the lives of the woman, though it is portrayed as being central to life of the white women. For most of the women of color there are other more important aspects of their life. For some, the central theme of their life is the dream of a better future like in Flashdance, Karate Kid II, Bringing Down the House, Billy Jack, and the Flintstones. For the white women it appears that liv ing a lavish life style with drugs is important as in Rising Sun, Scarface, Up in Smoke, and Pulp Fiction These women have the relationship as centra l to their lives because it gi ves them a certain lifestyle which includes mainly sex and drugs. The women of color are frequently busy w ith other roles in their lives, using their super talents or skills. In all of the Bond movies, the women are busy trying to save the world from evil. In their role as super fe males they have issues other than just the relationship. This is also true in Charlie’s Angels, Rush Hour 2, Austin Powers in Goldmember, and the Golden Child These women are on important missions to overcome adversity that will harm the world. Their greater vision is more important than the man in their lives. In many of the films, the women of color are performers or professionals and their careers are important to them, unlike the white women who predominantly do not have an occupation. The exceptions are Jean’s character in the Billy Jack films or Lilly Von Shook in Blazing Saddles who claims to be bored with being a performer. Having a

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107 career and being a successful person is expressed by the women of color in The Body Guard, Wayne’s World, Flashdance, Karate Kid II, and the Flintstones Another aspect of importance to the women of color is that they are concerned about their family. They often do not choose their partner unless they have the support of their family and if forced some choose to stay with their family. Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves, The Golden Child, Little Big Man, The Fast and the Furious are all examples of this. This perhaps is also a reflection that in some cultures the wo man belongs to her family more than to a sexual or romantic partner unless she is “gifted” by the family to him. Loyalty is often an issue in deciding whic h path to follow. This is seen in The Fast and the Furious when Vin Diesel’s sister Mia is to rn as whether to follow her beloved white boyfriend or her brother and his friends. She chooses her brother but is distraught in doing so. Pocahontas is confused for most of the f ilm as she is torn between her responsibility to her tr ibe and her dreams for the future. She is finally faced with the difficult choice in deciding whether to go with Jo hn Smith or stay with her father. Jean in Billy Jack is conflicted about telling Billy Jack that she has been raped because she is afraid he will kill her ra pists and her school will be closed down. Rachel in The Bodyguard is confused about who is threatening her and doesn’t realize it is her own sister who lives with her and works for her. Lucy Liu’s character in Charlie’s Angel struggles with whethe r or not to tell her boyfriend the truth about her job. Perhaps ther e is no more classic conflict than Joey in Guess whose Coming to Dinner who acts completely confused when her father raises an objection to her marrying a black man whom she has only known for a short time. She acts as if she just doesn’t understand. Mary Magdalene’s character in Jesus Christ

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108 Superstar sings “I don’t know how to love him, ” lamenting her confusion about her feelings of being a prostitute who has had “s o many men” with her new feelings of love for Jesus. In Rising Sun, Tia Curare’s character, Jingo Asakuma, does not let Wesley Snipes character ever know that she is the lover of Sean Connery ’s character unti l the very end of the film, when she is confused about what to do about her feelings for Snipes. This confusion or torn loyalty is a common them e which emerges in reaction to the earlier theme that the women are deviant. Sooner or later they have to f ace their negative traits or failure to comply with the social order. R3:Are the women in interr acial romantic/sexual relationships in films under study framed as overcoming adversity and/or hostility from people outside the relationship? Women in interracial relationships are show n in the frames previously described as suffering from confusion or conflict. Adversity is central to the lives of most of the women though differences in race are rarely sh own as the reason, with the exception of Guess Who’s Coming For Dinner. Often the relationship in itially causes a problem but since the relationship is not the most significant aspect of the women’s life, it is less of an issue. The objection to the relationship is usually veiled in some other concern than partner’s race. This also shows that Hollyw ood is more covert in showing discrimination than it was in the late 1960s. The conflicts that the women face exist as the conflicted and confused frame illustrates but not usually because of the relationship – because the interracial relationship is not th e most important aspect of the women’s life. This is also because only a deviant woman in a Hollywood film would be in an interracial relationship.

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109 Often the adversity from outsi de the relationship is what unites the woman with the man in the sexual or interracial relationship. Fighting against a greater evil is what brings the man and the woman together like in The Bodyguard, when she is under threat of being murdered. R4:Are the women in romantic or sexual rela tionships in the films under study framed as not being in control of their ro mantic and/or sexual future? This research poses a complicated response as often the outcome of the relationship is determined by an outside force other than the woman or the man. A death or a person outside the relationship typically determin es the outcome. In most cases, the women chose if their relationship makes it or not. Unlike much of the previous research on women in films in relationships, this resear ch indicates that the women in interracial relationships make decisions about whether or not it should continue. Faced with a conflict about the relationship, the women will make a choice. In Wayne’s World, Cassandra chooses Wayne over Rob Lowe’s charact er of the music execu tive. Part of the women being decisive about th eir relationship is related to the frame that these women are unfeminine and care more about themselves than other people. They don’t do what society tells them to do. Queen Latifah in Bringing Down the House finally chooses a relationship with Eugene Levy’s quirky character of a white male lawyer who speaks in jive talk. Most of these women are independently minded and many do not continue with the relationship. In Pocahontas the Fast and the Furious Scarface, and the Flintstones the women decide to end the relationship. Many of the women ch ose to have sexual relationships with the men in the films regardless of the possible nega tive outcome. This can be seen in all the Bond movies, Shaft. The Golden Child, Shaft, Rising Sun, Blazing Saddles, Up in Smoke

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110 The Bodyguard, and the Fast and Furious The women in these films chose a sexual relationship. Ending or continuing the relatio nship does not seem to be an issue to the women as she makes her choice. Whitney Hous ton’s character, Rachel, stops her private plane from leaving so she can run out to Kevi n Costner and kiss him after the relationship was finished. Roselyn Sanch ez’s character Isabella in Rush Hour 2 kisses Jackie Chan at the airport and then continues on her journe y to New York leaving him to change his plans to follow her. The portrayal of Indian wo men in film shows them as appearing stereotypically very dependent and concerned with their tribe. They are shown as being willing to forgo their happiness for the benefit of the tribe. We see in the portrayal of the entire Indian woman a willingness to sacrifice what they want for the will of the ot her person. In Little Big Man, his wife urges him to sexually take care of her sisters who have become widows. We see in the charac ter of Pocahontas a woman who is willing to let John Smith go to England without her so she can stay with her tribe where she is needed. The women of color in these films are ta lented and resourceful and they are not merely waiting for the men to dictate the future to them. It also shows how insignificant interracial relationships are in society. Or like Halle Berry’s character, Jinx, in Die Another Day states relationships never work out so why not just have fun. Most of the interracial relationships under study in these films also seem “jinxed.” The prevalence of ambivalence in the endi ngs of relationships or the brief period the women spend in the film is examined mo re in the Content anal ysis, which quantifies these elements. Very often the relationship is barely a relationship at all. It is a brief interaction that is unrelated to the plot or storyline in any way.

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111 R5:Are women in interracial relationships fr amed as sexualized in behavior, appearance and motivation? Sex is portrayed as being a very significan t factor in the portra yal of the woman in the sample films. Depending on the genre and rating of the film, sex is shown as being a major motivation for women and men in inte rracial relationships. Most women dress very provocatively and show considerable amoun ts of flesh. A number of the women are portrayed as prostitutes or ente rtainers who use their sexualit y to make a living. This can be seen in Full Metal Jacket where an Asian prostitute is used to show the power structure between a white soldier and a lower ranking black soldier. In Flashdance the main character dreams of becoming a professi onal ballet dancer while working as a welder by night and transforming into a highly erotic stripper at night. In Enter the Dragon a black martial artist forgoes his martia l arts tournament tr aining to have sex with a group of women he is presented with as a gift from his host. In On her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond also has sex with an ensemble cast of women from a variety of ethnicities. Most of the interracial rela tionships in these films are portrayed as sexual rather than romantic or emotional. With the excep tion of the Billy Jack films or the PG-rated films like Pocahontas and the Karate Kid II few films omit the overt sexual attraction which is presented as almost “animal magnetis m’ between the interra cial couples. Very little caring or feeling is shown in most of the interracial re lationships and the interaction appears to be about something other than the possibility of love. The content analysis findings will address these research questions in more detail in the following chapter.

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112 CHAPTER 4 COMPARING AND CONTRASTING THE CONTENT Content Analysis The second research method used in this study was quantitative content analysis. Berelson’s (1952) classic defini tion of content analysis is as a “research technique for the objective, systematic and quantitativ e description of the manifest content of communication” (p .18). This definition in cludes the important particulars of the research method and the process as being fo cused on manifest content rather than its “implied or latent meaning” (Riffe, 1998, p. 19). The content analysis part of this study was done in the traditional approach to conten t analysis. The procedure used to create the content analysis methodology follow the seve n step procedure outlined by Lynda Lee Kaid and Anne Wadsworth (1989) in Measurement of Communication Behavior. Research Questions The first step in creating the content analys is was to identify the research questions to be identified. The exact same research questions that were used in the framing analysis Study were used to conduct the conten t analysis. The inten tion of the researcher was to use the findings of the framing analysis for closer examination of the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film from 1967 – 2005. The research questions explored were, of course, the same as thos e addressed in the qualitative analysis: R1: How are women in romantic and/or sexua l interracial relation ships in films under study portrayed? R2: Are sexual or romantic relationships framed as central to the li ves of the women in the films under study?

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113 R3: Are the women in interracial romantic an d/or sexual relationsh ips in the film under study framed as overcoming adversity and/or hostility from people outside the relationship? R4: Are the women in romantic and/or se xual relationships in the films under study framed as being in control of th eir romantic and/or sexual future? R5: Are the women in interracial relationships under study framed as sexualized in behavior, appearance, and motivation? Identifying the Content Analysis Sample The content analysis used the exact same sa mple of 36 films featuring an interracial romantic or sexual relationship from 1967 – 2005 that was used in the framing analysis. No changes were made to the sample. A complete list of the 36 films included in the study is included in the Appendix. The procedur es to select the sample are outlined in detail in previous chapters, which document the steps taken by the researcher to ensure the systematic selection of the films in the sample and the validity of the sample as representative. The goal of us ing the same sample of films was to create a crystallizing effect between the findings of the framing anal ysis and the content an alysis as described by Denzin and Lincoln. (2000, p. 391). Defining the Coding Categories. The unit of analysis in this study was the in terracial relationship within the film, not the film itself. From the sample of 36 films, 45 units of analysis were identified. Selecting the criteria for the coding categories is a critical step in the content analysis design which impacts the reliability of the findings (Riffe, 1998, p. 105). To create objectivity and validity in th e content analysis study the coding categories were based upon the findings of the framing analysis and on categories from previous content analysis studies focused on issues of race, gender, and/or sexuality in film.

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114 The categories on racial identity are based on the categories used in the U.S. Census Bureau publications (U.S. Census, 2000, p. 15). The categories on social vulnerability are based on a study co nducted by Vincent E. Faherty (1991) of 19 Disney films which focused on variables of diversity (gender, race/ethnicity, and age). Several of the categories of the por trayal of women are based on an extensive content analysis study conducted by Stephen Powers, Stanley Rothman, and David J. Rothman (1996) of shifts in the treatment of the roles of women from the 1930s – 1990s. Their extensive content analysis was conducted on films fr om 1945 to 1994. Many of those categories were duplicated for this study, sp ecifically those that looked at the portrayal of women in film and examined occupation, character rating, violence, and sex. The categories were based on the framing analysis and models of similar content analysis studies of film focusing on ethnicity and/or gender in previous film studies. Prior media studies have suggested using categories such as “presenc e of women and men, race, age, occupation, marital status (van Zooten, 1994, p. 70). These categories were also used in the study. The code sheet was created accordingly to reflect the following major categories: Genre of the film Year of the film Age of the female and the male characters in the interracial relationship Race of the female and male charact ers in the interracial relationship Role of the female character Gender attributes of the male and the female characters Character perception of the female character Social vulnerability of the male and the female character Occupation of the female character Violent behavior Ultimate value of the male and the female character The relationship outcome Opposition to the relationship Skills of the female character Sexual relations

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115 Depiction of the woman and her physical Appearance Power distribution in the relationship Length of the relationship Positive or negative labels of characters Challenges faced in the relationship The woman’s satisfaction with the outcome of the relationship Final outcome Outlining the Coding Process, Training the Coders, and Calculating Reliability The code sheet was developed to reflect th e main categories. It included questions about the male and the female characters in the interracial relationship. Since the portrayals of the women in interracial relati onships were studied in detail, the coding sheet included 41 questions. C opies of the coding sheet a nd the codebook are included in the appendix. The selection of the coders in a study of gender, race, and sexuality required a selection process to include coders that represented both genders and a variety of racial/ethnic groups. Since study also examines the role of age, code rs were selected who reflected a variety of ages. The majority of coders were undergraduate students, but coders with graduate degrees we re also included. Two coders were black-white bi-racial, one was Hispanic, and three were white. The re searcher was careful to select coders that represented the cultural di versity displayed in the study. Coders were trained extensively in a th ree-hour training session by the researcher. Those coders who were not confident or clear were given additional private training sessions. The researcher explained the codebook in great detail with the coder and coded a sample film with the coders as part of the training proce ss. All coders were given a sample film to code, and the results were discussed in the presence of the coder. The results of this training process and detailed codebook were tested for intercoder reliability

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116 and on the specific group of categories from Q2_1 to Q2_12 the inte rcoder reliability was 1.0, using Holsti’s formula.2 Some categories involved ope n-ended questions, which allowed the coder to add additional answers other than, those offered. In these cases, this was used to gather additional descriptive informati on to be used in the findings section. Examples of this can be seen in Appendix A. For categories like this, the intercoder reliability ranged from .467 to 1. Intercoder reliability for all categories resulted in a very high .965 reliability using Holsti’s formula. The coders were inst ructed to contact the researcher to identify any problems or issues they might incur in the coding. No major issues emerged. Implementing the Coding Process After a successful coder tr aining process, coders were randomly assigned films and coding sheets to conduct the coding analysis Coding was done on an individual basis during a two-week period in February, 2006. E ach coder was instructed to watch the film in its entirety as many times as needed to then complete the coding sheet when they felt familiar with the content of the film. Even though the female characters may not have been portrayed for the entire film, coders were instructed to watch the entire film. Findings The coding sheet responses completed by th e coders were analyzed using the SPSS statistical program. The analysis of the cont ent analysis offers many interesting insights 2 The formula used to compute reliability is a formula given by North, Holsti, Zaninovich, and Zinnes (1963). It is given for two coders and can be modified for any number of coders. R = 2 (C1,2) --------C1 + C2 C1,2 = number of category assignments both coders agree on C1 + C2 = total category assignments made by both coders

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117 into the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film from 1967 – 2005. The findings of the content analysis will be addr essed in answer to th e research questions identified earlier in the study. One limitation of the content analysis findings was that because some cases offered so few examples of interracial couples the findings were found to be insignificant. The significant stat istical findings are described in response to each research question in the section that follows. Results R1:How are women in romantic and/or sexua l interracial relationships in films under study portrayed? Age and Gender An initial and interesting finding of the content analysis before even examining issues of race is the relationship between age and gender in the study. An overwhelming majority of women portrayed in the film we re 21 to 30 years old (77.8%), while the more frequently portrayed age of the men in the film was 31 to 40 years old (55.6%). This finding confirms many other studies in ma ss media that shows women are usually portrayed as younger than men. The other inte resting finding about ag e is that no women over the age of 50 were ever shown in the films under study, and only one woman was over 40. This is in direct contrast with the portrayal of males where male characters were shown as old as 60 years old. Again, this fi nding indicates that ge nder portrayal in mass media severely limits the portrayal of ag ing women. The variable of race was not found to be statistically significant, which implies that when it comes to age, older women of any color are avoided and men in films ar e consistently paired with younger women, regardless of race.

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118 For example, in Pocahontas Billy Jack, and The Karate Kid II a woman is more likely to be portrayed as a gi rl in a popular film than as a mature woman. In addition, young women are paired with a romantic or sexu al male partner who is much older as in Rising Sun and Enter the Dragon but none of the films portray a visibly older woman in a sexual or romantic relationship with an older man. An exception was Tommy The age trend is reversed in this film where an older black prostitute, portrayed by Tina Turner as the Acid Queen, seduces a blind virgin white boy for money. The negative portrayal of this relationship shows that older wome n can be dangerous for innocent young white men! The trend of age differential is clea rly a one-sided issue in which younger women are positively portrayed as the "norm" and women appear to seek to be with older men. Role of the Woman in the Film The most common genre to show an inte rracial relationship in film is Action (46.7%), which perhaps explains why so many of the women of colo r are portrayed as being skilled in many activiti es. The next most popular genre is drama, which may suggest why the outcomes of the interracial rela tionships are so prone to endings of conflict or even death. Comedy is the thir d most popular genre accounting for 8% of the settings for interracial relationships in film. Interracial relationships in film are often portrayed as being a serial monogamy or pol ygamous relationship. Men in interracial relationships are shown with more than one woman during the film in a number of cases under study as in On her Majesty's Secret Service, Enter the Dragon, and Little Big Man In two films Scarface and A View to a Kill women are shown in more than one interracial relationship in the storyline. Bo th of these films portray the women in a negative way whereas men in multiple relationships are not. Gender often influences the storyline differently.

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119 Women are less likely to be shown as ha ving a principal role in the film than a supporting or even minor role. Women are shown in principal roles in few films like Pocahontas, Billy Jean, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Women were identified as having a leading role in only 20 % of the cases studied. Commonly, the woman was cast in a supporting role (46.7%) while being cast in a minor role was a close second at 33.3% or one third of all films. Race was found to be statistically insigni ficant as statistically insignificant as p =.046. The pattern becomes obvious that women of any color portrayed in an interracial relationsh ip are not portrayed as significant in the popular films under study. The Portrayal of Race and Gender As identified previously in the framing an alysis, it is very obvious that white men are more likely to be portraye d in the interracial relationshi p than white women. Table 1 shows that white women are portrayed in th e films in only 24.4 % of cases while men are portrayed in 66.7 % of relationshi ps with women of color. Table 1 Frequency of Race by Gender Women Men White 24.4% 66.7% Black 20 % 13.3% Amerindian 15.6% 6.7% Asian 24.4% 4.4% Hispanic 11.1% 8.9% Ambivalent 4.4% 0% The findings in the content analysis furthe r contribute to the re sults of the framing analysis and indicate how gender is impacted by race in the chosen films. This can be seen in Table 1. The frequency of the por trayal for white women and white men is statistically reversed in that White men appear in 66.7 % of re lationships and White women are portrayed in 24.4 % of interracial relationships. There is also a significant

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120 difference in the portrayal for Asian women and Asian men. Asian Men are portrayed in only 4.4 % of relationships while Asian women are portrayed in 24.4 % of relationships. An Asian woman is the most lik ely woman of color to be po rtrayed in a film, while an Asian male is the least likely to be portra yed. The portrayal of Hispanic men and women are shown as a very marginalized group for both genders. Black women are shown slightly more frequently than black men. Am erindian women are shown twice as often as Amerindian men but still, on a very limited basi s. These cases reflect such low numbers of cases that the chi-squares scores are not valid for significance because of the low counts in the cells. These findings imply that the impact or significance of race on gender in the portrayal of interracial relations hips in film is not consiste nt or comparable but depends significantly on what specific ra ce is being studied. It also implies that Hollywood tends to use certain racial intercouplings more than others and avoids some interracial relationships entirely. The cont ent analysis reveals trends with in the portrayal of race and gender over time. When the year of the film is considered as a variable, we see that white men have been consistently portrayed in in terracial relationships over the past four decades. Actor Sean Connery appears in Top 15 blockbuster films as a leading man in an interracial relationship in a time spanning 1967 to 1993. The opposite is true for the portrayal of an Asian man. Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2 (2001) marks the first time an Asian man has been cast in an interrac ial relationship in a popular film. Like white men, white women have been s hown in interracial relationships since 1967. The comparison ends here, however, as white women have not been shown in an interracial relationship in film since Pulp Fiction in 1994. Amerindian women have not

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121 been portrayed in a popular inte rracial film in the study since Dances with Wolves in 1995, but Amerindian men have not been s hown in a popular inte rracial relationship since The Trial of Billy Jack in 1974! In the sample analyzed here, Hispanic women were not shown in interracial relationships in film until Rush Hour 2 in 2001, which historically marks the first time an Asian man was ever shown in an interracial relationship in Top 15 box office sale film. It is obvious that Hollywood can create "racial" trends by including certain races and excluding others. The trend, as to what race is popular, shifts over time, and certain races become excluded while others are then included. It is implied that there is not enough room to give space on the big screen to more than a few marginalized racial groups at a time. It is important to note that many significan t ethnicities are completely omitted from portrayal in all four decades in the sample of mainstream films which portray an interracial relationship. There are no women or men of Arab ic or East Indian origins portrayed in any films for example. The comp lete absence of so many other ethnicities in this study shows that some ethni cities are considered to be more attractive, desirable or identifiable in American Mass Media despite the actual presence of these ethnicities in American culture. Gender Attributes of Women and Men The coding sheet reflected 16 possible gender attributes, but did not indicate to the coders if the traits were traditionally masculine or feminine traits. The same list was used to code for the woman and the man in the inte rracial relationship. Eight traits listed describe traditional masculine attributes: competitive, athletic, strong, risk taker, aggressive, achievement, intelligent, and dange rous. The remaining traits listed were traditional feminine traits: responsible, sensitive, flirtatious, romantic, deceitful,

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122 untrustworthy, manipulative and emotional. The findings indicate that interracial relationships create some leeway for tradi tional gender traits in both men and women. Although a character like Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels is portrayed as a strong, athletic, risk taker, she is also portrayed as a flir tatious, deceitful, and responsible woman. Her attributes allow her to cross over traditional gender lines. When women are studied for gendered at tributes, it appears that women in interracial relationships are not portrayed as traditionally female but as possessing more masculine traits than feminine traits. Race however, was not statistically determined to be a significant factor in how feminine or masculine a character was portrayed Men, as expected appear to have predominantly ma sculine attributes with small showings in feminine traits, especially the traditional fe minine attribute of f lirtatious (24.4 %). Men like Jackie Chan in Rush Hour 2 and Will Smith in Hitch are shown as risk takers but also shown to be sensitive and responsible. Another consideration in th e portrayal of the women in these films was whether they were portrayed as socially vulnera ble or not. The same list of possible vulnerabilities was used to code for the men in the films under study. The possible traits of social vulnerability were: physical di sability, speech, low intelligence, poverty, confused, dead parent, missing child, single parent, overweight, widow, drug addicted, prisoner, eccentric, allegiance to family, infe rtility, victim or sexua l, physical or very verbal abuse or killed. The findings indicate that the women were portrayed as socially vulnerable in 84% of the relationships. Race appears an interest ing variable, in that 100% white women in the films under study are portrayed as socially vulnerable. For women of color, 15.6% or seven women were considered to be non-vulnerable. The

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123 content analysis indicates that for men in the films under study, race does not appear as a statistically significant factor in whether or not men are portrayed as vulnerable. For men, the vulnerability is predictably revers ed. Unlike the portrayal of women, 60% of men are portrayed as non-vulnerable. An exam ple of a male who appeared vulnerable in the films under study was the character of Tommy who was a blind, young man who was violently introduced to ille gal drugs. The other man reas ons a man was portrayed as socially vulnerable was because of exposure to violence and/or drug use. For example, this is seen in Scarface, Cheech and Chong and Billy Jack Occupations and Skills of the Women The framing analysis data implies that wo men in the interracial relationships were portrayed as existing in a male utopian fa ntasy world. The findings of the content analysis take the implication of a fantasy wo rld portrayed in film to a whole new level when the occupation of the women in the st udy is analyzed. Findi ngs show, despite the large number of women actively working in the American workplace, the most commonly portrayed occupation of women in the films is that they have no identified occupation. In the study, 37.8% of women ar e shown without an occupation or job. Race was found to be statistically insignificant as a factor in the portrayal of women’s occupations, though white women are more likel y to be portrayed without a job than women of color. An example of this can be seen in Scarface, Pulp Fiction and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner The next most popular job for a woman in an interracial relationship is as a Spy/government worker. There are no government workers in the film, which means that all the women in this category are spies. Women are portrayed as spies in all eight James Bond films in the study and in Rush Hour, Austin Powers as Gold Member, and Charlie's

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124 Angels The third most common occupation for a woman in the films under study is a tie between the categories of prostitute and entert ainer. Women are shown as prostitutes in some of the James Bond films and also in Full Metal Jacket and Rising Sun The portrayal of women in fantasy careers or no careers at all do not reflect the social reality that women are a diverse and essential part of the Western world’s workforce in a large variety of professions. Some of the films do not reflect an American society such as Karate Kid II or On her Majesty’s Secret Service More positive roles of women in occupations are really needed on the Big Screen. In Hitch, even when the character of Sarah is po rtrayed as a professi onal writer, she is shown to be a gossip columnist in a newspape r who uses her power for personal revenge. In the Billy Jack and the Trial of Billy Jack films, the character of Jean is shown as a hard working and dedicated school principal on an Indian Reservation. Du ring the course of two films, however, her job leads her to danger, and she is gang raped in the first film and then shot in the second film. Even when wo men are given an occupa tion, the portrayal of women doing their job can be negative. If the occupations of the women in the films under study contribute to the “fantasy” world of interracial relationships in films, the findings for the skills the women possess certainly do as well. The possible skil ls the women exhibit were developed from the findings of the framing analysis. Wo men of color were found to exhibit many exceptional skills in their portrayal in interracial relationships. The coders were asked to identify all skill s that were exhibited by the women in the films in the study as present or absent. Ta ble 2 indicates that the frequency of skills exhibited by the women reflect the future “utopia” of the film-male world fantasy.

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125 Evaluating the skills of the women was used to further investigate the framing analysis that identified white women as without a purpose and women of color as capable of unrealistic skills making them spontaneous gymnasts, as in Charlie's Angels and The Golden Child or capable of speaking languages within minutes of hearing them for the first time, as in Pocahontas. Table 2 Skills Women Exhibit Skill Women Sexual 60% Dancing 24.4% Martial Arts 20 % Athletic 20 % Weapons use 17.8 % Singing 15.6% Gymnastics 11.1% Leadership 8.9% Computer hacker 4.4 % Supernatural 2.2 % Comedian 2.2 % Interpreter 2.2 % The portrayal of white women shown in table 2 which shows skills that women exhibit suggest that only four white women can dance, one has leadership skill, and one can sing. The only skill that remains for th e majority of the other women is sexual. Women of color are portrayed as exhibiting sk ills in athleticism, computers, weapons, gymnastics, the supernatural, comedy, interpreting, and racecar driving. Often these skills seem as much of a fantasy in the portraya l of women as 60 % of women in the film possessing sexual skills. More details on th e portrayal of all women as sexual are discussed in another research question, which explores the portrayal of women in the films as sexualized.

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126 Perception of the Women in Interracial Relationships Overall, the perception of th e women in interracial relationships in the films under study was slightly more positive than negative. The coders identified the portrayal of the women in the films to be positive 35.6% of the time and mostly positive in 20% of the cases, giving a positive portrayal 55.6% of the time. Negati ve perceptions of the women in the interracial relationship s in the study films were identif ied in 40% of the cases and mostly negative with some positive in only 4.4% of the cases. This gives an overall negative perception rating of 44.4%. The va riable of race in factoring negative or positive portrayal was statistically insi gnificant as p < .05 in the findings. In response to this research question, wome n in interracial relationships are shown in a diverse way and yet, some very prom inent and interesting findings emerge. In summary, women in interracial relationships are portrayed as being predominantly without an occupation or employed as a s py, prostitute, or entertainer. The most exhibited skill by women is sexual, and white women are shown as less talented than women of color, who exhibit an eclectic array of exceptional talents like dancing, singing, martial arts, weapons, and gymnasts. A few women exhibit skil ls in martial arts, computer hacking and the supernatural. As ian women are mostly paired with white males, and white women are never show n with Asian men. The women who are portrayed in interracial re lationships are always show n as younger than the men, no women past mid-life is shown at all. Women are portrayed as socially vulnerable, and men in the same films are predominantly shown as not socially vulnerable. The portrayal of women in interracial re lationships represents a sexual, fantasy world in which people are portrayed differently depending on their race, gender, and age.

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127 The world portrayed in interraci al relationships in film is both eclectic and diverse with little room for a multi-faceted port rayal of a woman of any color. R2: Are sexual or romantic relationships framed as central to the li ves of the women in the films under study? As the first research question findings indi cated, sex is portrayed as important to women but romance is rarely portrayed as sign ificant. The results of the coding indicate that women do not value the same things as men in the study films. One way of determining the significance of the relationshi p in the lives of the women and men is to examine the findings for the men and the women’s ultimate values, as shown in Table 3. Table 3 Ultimate Values of Men and Women Ultimate Values Women Men Romance 17.4 % 11.1% Self Interest 26.7% 31.1% Power* 0% 11.1% Professional interest* 24.4% 42.2% Family 13.3 % 13.3% Financial 4.4% 8.9% Fame 4.4% 4.4% Religion 6.7% 6.7% Patriotism 2.2% 4.4% Sexual 26.7% 33.3% Revenge* 0% 13.4% Unclear 6.7% 2.2% No Values 2.2% 0% Indicates a significant difference between the values of women and men. The leading values of the men and the l eading values of the women in the study films are clearly different in some traits as indicated in Table 3. The findings indicate that women are most likely to value sex ( 33.3%) and men are most likely to value their professional career (43.2%). Men are identifi ed as valuing sex le ss than women. Both men and women in the films under study are iden tified as being fairly self-interested, but women value their own self-interest (26.7 %) considerably more than their family,

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128 religion, professional careers, or patriotism. Self-interest is the second highest value identified for the women in these films. Romance is only valued by 17.4 % of women and 11.1 % of men. The implication here is that the men and the women in interracial relationships in popular films are more intere sted in sex than in romance or family. It is clear that the romantic element of the relationship is less important to the m e n and women in the portrayals of interracial relationships than the sexual but it is also significant to note if the interra cial relationship is deemed important in the film. Does the interracial relationship matter to the audience? The content analysis results show that the interracial relationship is not shown as important to the plot in the films. In only six cases was the relationship identified as central to the storyline in the film, making it the least likely option. The most commonly selected role portrayed of the relationship was as a subplot to the storyline (37.8%) but the relationship was al so frequently rated as incidental (28 %). The interraci al relationship was identified as completely unrelated to the plot in 20% of the cases. This shows that the interracial relationship the woman is involved in is unrelated or inci dental in almost half of the films situations studied. It appears that the interracial relationship is not that important to the woman, the man, or even the audience. What do seem to matter most to the character are the sex and their own self-interest. R3: Are the women in interracial romantic an d/or sexual relationsh ips in the film under study framed as overcoming adversity and/or hostility from people outside the relationship? The categories in the coding sheets speci fically explored possible elements of adversity or hostility that wome n in interracial relationships experienced in these films. An analysis of the results shows that re lationship opposition was portrayed in 40.4% of films in all decades, with 59.6% not experi encing conflict. The majority of opposition,

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129 which equated to 21.3% of cases, portrayed society as the source of opposition against the relationship. The next most common source of opposition identified was from potential suitors of the woman (14.9%). Families were identified as sources of opposition in only 6.4% of the results. Very li ttle opposition from friends of the man or the woman in the films was identified by the content analysis findings. Opposition over time was identified as sh ifting but in a surprising pattern. The statistical analysis also indi cated that opposition was least likely to occur in the films from the 1970s. The findings also indicated that ther e was almost as much likelihood of opposition to an interracial relationship in the 1960s as in the 2000s. The implication is seen in many of the findings that the films of the 1970s reflected the most frequent time an interracial relationship would be shown in a top 15 box office su ccess and also the least likely time it would be opposed. This is possibly best explaine d by the political and social climate of the 1970s created in res ponse to the civil righ t’s and the women’s movements. The direction of the trend is also of interest for future study. In the majority of the films under study, the women encounter violence (42.2%). The portrayal of women as violent in the f ilms is also an interesting finding. When violence is committed against them, 28.9% of women do not respond. When violence is committed against them, 17.8% of women respond w ith violence. It is interesting to note that 11.1% of women initiate violence without being provoked or attacked. The implication is that interracial relationships exist within a world of conflict and violence, and that women sometimes contribute to that world without being provoked while others are victims without responding with violence in their own defense. It appears to be a hostile world for women in interracial relati onships in the films under study. The content

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130 analysis identified 19 different insults that the women in the studied films were faced with, including such harsh terms as: bitc h, slut, whore, bimbo, junkie, twat, gook, and bimbo. Men were more frequently insulted than the women. 24 different insults were identified that the men in the films were f aced with in the films and included such harsh words as: nigger, motherfucker, freak, bastar d, asshole, dick and son-of-a-bitch. The insults were most frequently used to refere nce a women’s sexuality or a man’s behavior. Both men and women of color are identified as being insulted because of their race with terms such as calling Queen Latifah ’s character Aunt Jemima in Bringing Down the House In Billy Jack the title character is often referred to as injun, and in the Cheech and Chong movies the main charact ers are often called spicks. When it comes to making sacrifices for the relationship, both men and women are identified as making sacrifices, but women under study were identified in 37.8% of cases, while men were identified as making sacrifi ces in 28.9% of the relationships. Race was not found to be statistically sign ificant as a factor in this fi nding. The challenges that the men and women in the interracial relationshi ps experience were id entified as having a variety of sources but the gr eatest challenge identified was cultural issues (29.8%) while the second most significant challenge to the in terracial relationship in the films was the man’s lack of commitment to the relationshi p (17 %). The woman’s lack of commitment to the relationship was only identified as a cha llenge in 6.4% cases by comparison. The diversity of the challenges faci ng the interracial relationship couples in the films studied implies the complex and diverse port rayal of different relationships.

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131 Table 4 Challenges Facing the In terracial Relationship Couple Challenges Cultural Issues 29.8% Legal Issues 6.4% Geographic Issues 6.4% Communication Issues 10.6% Economic Issues 10.6% Religious Issues 4.3% Political Issues 10.6 % Behavioral Issues 10.6% Her lack of commitment 6.4% His lack of commitment 17 % Issues from past relationships 6.4% It is interesting to note cultural issues as the number one challenge facing the interracial couple, but would not be an issue in a same race and or ethnicity relationship, though many of the other issues could be a challenge for a same race couple. R4:Are the women in romantic and/or se xual relationships in the films under study framed as being in control of th eir romantic and/or sexual future? Previous findings have alr eady identified that the portray al of the man’s lack of commitment has been identified as a challenge to the interracial relationship in the films under study. Additional findings reveal that the women in interracial relationships are portrayed as satisfied with th e outcome of the relationship only 33.3 % of the time. The woman is shown as being somewhat happy with the outcome in 13.3 % of the relationships. Often because of the ambivale nt way the outcome for many of the women is shown in the films, it is hard to know wh at reaction the women has to the relationships’ outcome. The second most common reaction of the women in to the outcome of the film is unknown at 31.1%. In one fifth of the relatio nships, the woman is shown as being “not at all” satisfied with the outcome of the relationship. This implies that women are pleased with the outcome of the relationship in almost half of the interracial relationships in the films under study.

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132 The power in the relationship in the film s does not seem very evenly distributed. The findings indicate the man appears to have the power in the relationship a slight majority of the time (51.1%) while the woman is only identified as having power in the relationship less than one tent h of the time (8.9%). The po wer in the relationship was identified as being shared by the man and the woman in almost one third of the relationships (31.1%). In some cases, the c oder could not determine who seemed to have the power in the relationship perhaps because, as we shall examine later, the majority of interracial relationships are so brie fly portrayed in the films under study. Who makes the decision to end a relations hip if the man has the power during the relationship? Considering the finding th at the man has the most power during the relationship, it is interesting to note, as Table 5 shows, that in ending the relationship the man has the least control. Table 5 Decision-Maker in the Relationship Outcome Decision Maker He makes the decision 8.5% She makes the decision 10.6% They decide together 23.4% An Outside force decides 40.4% Unknown decision 17.1% The results of this finding are very intere sting because it implies that an outside force in the relationship decides the outco me of the interracial relationship, most commonly. This could include de ath or a parent or family member makes the decision. In a number of the James Bond films such as a View to a Kill the woman dies trying to protect James Bond. In Rising Sun, not only doe s Cheryl, the main die but so do both her lovers in the film. The idea that the woman is not really in control of the outcome of the relationship and the man is even less in char ge than she, points to the volatility or

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133 unpredictable nature of the inte rracial relationships in the st udy films. The woman is not portrayed as being in control of her sexual or romantic re lationship in the interracial relationships in the study. In addition to who controls the outcome of the relationship, it is important to explore the final outcome of the romantic or sexual relationship in the film. When it comes to the portrayal of interracial relati onships, the outcomes are often portrayed as undesirable or even disastrous. Table 6 Outcome of the Interracial Relationship Outcome Marriage 12.8% Break up by him 6.4% Break up by her 6.4% Ambivalent 40.5% Dating commitment 10.6% Friendship 2.1% She Dies 10.6% He Dies 10.6% Of all the findings in the study of interracial relati onships in popular Hollywood films from 1967 – 2005, perhaps Table 6 is the most insightful. Most of the time the outcome of an interraci al relationship in a film is unknown to the viewer. This occurs in a number of films, including Pulp Fiction, Shaft, The Fast and the Furious and Blazing Saddles Such an ambivalent outcome implies th at the interracial relationship did not warrant being addressed by the filmmaker, but the most common reason we do not know the outcome is because we do not know what happens to the women in the interracial relationship in the film. Women in interracial relationships have a habit of disappearing from the film, and the audience never finds out what happens to them. Also, after a brief one-night-stand sexual encounter, the woma n is no longer shown in the film.

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134 It is interesting to note that in a film industry that likes to see the guy get the girl at the end of the movie, this is not the case in the portrayal of interracial relationships. To put this in perspective, it is important to note that only 12.8 % of in terracial relationships result or remain in marriage. There is a gr eater probability that either the man or the woman will end the relationship than that th e relationship will end up in a dating or marriage commitment. More dramatically, however, the man and the woman have a greater statistical probability of dying than of getting married or dating seriously. The implication is clear: interr acial relationships are not l ong term or marriage bound, if any thing they are ambivalent and at worst, deadly. R5: Are the women in interracial relationships under study framed as sexualized in behavior, appearance and motivation? The majority of the women in the interracial relationships in these films are portrayed as sexualized in every possible way. The most identified skill of the women has already been discussed as being sexual. In addition to this, the findings also indicate that sex was portrayed as the most importa nt value for most women in the films, substantially ahead of other va lues like romance, family, fame, money, or religion. This portrayal of both white wo men and women of color in the films under study is predominantly as sexually attractive women who are motivated by sex and talented at having sex. Specific questions were explor ed in the content analysis study about the appearance of the women in the films. The most frequent way a woman is portrayed in the films is as sexy, conveyed in 60% of cases. This is quite an accomplishment considering there are a number of PG and PG-13 rated films in the study! An overwhelming majority of women expose bare body parts during the film and only 26.7% showed very little skin. The most

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135 commonly exposed body parts are the legs at 53. 5% and the chest or cleavage at 44.4%. Halle Berry, as Jinx in Die Another Day and also in her role in The Flintstones as Sharon Stone, is portrayed as wearing sexy clothes and showing a lot of skin in two very diverse roles. Women are shown as naked in over one tenth of the films (11.1%) including in Rising Sun and Shaft. Women are portrayed exposing body parts to increase their se xual prowess on the big screen. The effort is apparently working since wome n are identified as being sexually skilled and motivated by sex in these fi lms. It is also interesting to note that women are portrayed in the films as initiati ng sexual relations almost as frequently as men-in one fifth of all relationships. In over one tenth of the films, sex between the partners in an interracial rela tionship is initiated by an out side person, pimp, or madam. In only 6.7% of the cases was the sexual relatio nship viewed as mutually initiated by the man and the woman as in Enter the Dragon and Tommy The implication is that women are sexually advanced and will initiate sex almost as often as men. The sexual nature of the relationships in the films under study is also exhibited in the prevalence of one-night sta nds as the most frequent leng th of a relationship. This happens in a number of the James Bond films and also in Shaft Full Metal Jacket and Tommy The next most frequent length of a relationship is short which was defined as less than one year. Sex only takes place in a long term relationships 4.4% of the time and in marriage only 8.9% of the time. When the length of the relationship in the film was measurable, the most common response was “bri efly” almost half the time (46.7%). The relationship lasted the entire film in only 13.3 % of the cases and most of the film in one fifth of the cases. The relationship lasted less than half the film in 17.8% cases. The

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136 implication is that, in additi on to being troublesome, interraci al relationships in the films under study are also brief and based on quick se xual exchanges rather than meaningful long term relationships. The ove rall portrayal of the interr acial relationship as being short, sexual, and stormy is continuously implied throughout this study and is present in many aspects of the findings.

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137 CHAPTER 5 REFLECTIONS ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF INTERRACIAL SEX OR LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN Implications of the Film Study Research The results of this study sadly indicate th at racial and ethnic segregation in sexual and romantic relationships is heavily pr acticed in popular Holl ywood blockbuster films and has become more common, rather than le ss common over the past four decades. The deliberate exclusion of many ethnicities and ra ces, compared to the inclusion of other ethnicities indicates a “veiled” hierarchy or preference for so me racial groups over others. It also shows that women of color may be por trayed as exotic and erotic, while men of color by contrast and are required to be portr ayed as the model gentleman or the extreme opposite of social reject. The role of sex and sexuality are exaggerate d in relationships in which race blending occurs on the big scree n. Interracial relati onships are rarely portrayed and when they are they are presented in such a negative way to make the message clear: It’s best to stay with your own race unless sex is all you want! Such a message might seem like a good sale technique in a media world where “sex sell” is a common motto, however, the superficial flirting and fornicating disguise a greater issue of political power and control. An analysis of the results of this study would be incomplete without addressing the issue of the Hollywood film as a “white male utopia”. Very few of the films in the sample were created, directed or produced by woman. Only three women were involved in the 36 films in the key role or producer or director. This is important to note because

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138 the world on the big screen is a white male creation of what interr acial relationships look like. It is also interesting to note that all three women involved in the making of the films were white and there are no women of color involved in the creati on of any of these films. This has not changed significantly over four decades either. It is perhaps up to the independent and foreign film market to give female directors and producers a place to create and sell thought provoking film. Te levision production also offers more opportunities for women than the expensive realm of blockbuster films. We do see more diversity in current televisi on programming because of demogr aphic targeting than we do in blockbuster film. It is as if the Popular film industry sees itself as marketing only to white middle class males. Perhaps change will come about in the mainstream film industry when producers and film studios realize that this is no longer the true American demographic. The findings of the content analysis and also the framing analysis offer some very important new findings along with some confir mations of existing findings in the study of race, sex, and gender in film. The findi ngs also offer a dismal display of racial integration in portrayal in mass media. While more and more interracial marriages are being reported in the media and Census data, the film industry ignores such a reality. The most obvious confirmation is that women and minorities continue to be underrepresented in significant roles in film. A study of popular film in 1996 identified that women of all races continue to be stereotyped and this finding is still true a lmost a decade later (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 229). If anything, trends in the portrayal of women in film seem to be stagnating For some racial groups, the situati on of representation is getti ng better but the nature of the

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139 stereotypical portrayal is as bad as ever. We see in the framing analysis and content analysis that a woman is still limited to being portrayed as sassy spitfire if she is Hispanic or a Jezebel if she is black. Little has cha nged here however an important finding of this study is the trend that Indian women and wh ite women have not been portrayed in a popular film in an interracial relationship since the 1990s. Hispanic women have only started being portrayed since the 2000s as have Asian men. Asian women continued to be portrayed as the model minority woman that white men seek in the highest numbers. The previous findings that women not only a ppear less frequently than men but are also portrayed in less signifi cant or minor roles is also found to be true in both the framing analysis and the content an alysis findings. It is interes ting to note that interracial relationships are found to be of little or no significance to the story line. Brief or short sexual interactions ar e the most common portrayal of relationships in popular film today. The prevalence of violence in the films under study is an important finding as it shows that interracial relationships are mo re likely to end up with one partner dying rather than the couple making a commitment to marriage! This finding helps cut to the heart of the message that Hollywood sends a bout interracial relationships: they are dangerous, short lived, and problematic. White women in interracial relationships are clearly shown as being socially and moral outliers. They loose social standing and significance by entering into an interracial rela tionship. The portrayal of white women in interracial relationships is fl awed and fragile, implying that no healthy or normal white woman would want to enter into a relationshi p, sexual or romantic, with a man of another race. If she does, Hollywood shows that on the big screen there is clearly something

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140 wrong with her! Perhaps this is why there has not been a white woman shown in an interracial relationship in popular film for the past 15 years. Interracial relationships tend to make the women look bad, but often the men are portrayed as gaining status in the relations hip. They are less vulnerable than the woman and appear to be a more sensitive, bala nced male. Women are portrayed as overly sexualized and masculine. Women continue to be "feminized through pathos" and are portrayed as girl-victims,” "vamps/sluts" a nd "gold diggers" (Haskell, 1987, p. 10). Older woman and women of certain races have been completely overlooked by Hollywood in the portrayal of women in interracial relationships. The overall findings in this study imply that interracial re lationships in popular film are used to make action films more exciting, drama films more conflicted, and comedies more humorous. Race and gender are exaggerated in stereotypes according to the genre in which the interracial relationship appears. But in all genres, one thing is clear: interracial relationships ar e rare and risky. Women and men who want interracial relationships are portrayed as being overly interested in sex with no interest in romance or the well being of their partner. Self-int erest and sex are the two key values of the men and women portrayed in the interr acial relationships in the study. Contributions and Relevance to Theory This study makes significant contributions to the theories used to created, design and conduct the study. The findings also offer relevance to the fundamental basis of each theory identified in the literatu re review and introduction. The Film Feminist Paradigm A criticism of the early works in film fe minism was that the studies conducted spoke to the experience of middle and upper class white women rather than all women

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141 including women of color. Criticism fo llowed that there was no such thing as a “woman’s experience” because not all women experienced the world in the same way based upon other variable such as race, edu cation, class and ethni city. This study shows that there is no universal expe rience of being a “woman” in an interracial relationship. The portrayal of the woman as positive or negative is clearly influenced not only by her ethnicity or race but also by the ethnicity and race of her partner. A deliberate attempt was made in this study to take a multi-facete d look at the way the world of film portrays women in interracial relationships in contrast to men in the f ilm but also to women of the same and/or other races or ethnicities. The power and persistence of patriarchy in mainstream popular film in America is clearly shown in the findings of this study. The contribution of this study to film feminism is not only rooted in its focus on the portrayal of women of color and white women, but also in the emphasis on the compli cated matter of interaction between people of different genders and races. The study also focuses on the way sexuality is used in a narrative film to convey power and to estab lish meaning. The findings of this study indicate what film scholar Molly Haskell ( 1987) asked for almost twenty years ago, “we want nothing less, on or off the screen than the wide variety and dazzling diversity of male options” (p. 402). Cultural Studies The significance of Stuart Hall’s (1996) “politics of represen tation” becomes very clear in this study (p. 89). It is clear in the findings that race and gender ca rry significant implications for power and social standing on th e big screen. Race or ethnicity is used in a visual medium, like film to mark a person a nd often to indicate not only who to like or dislike, but who an audience member should avoid (Kimmer, 1992, p. xii). A young

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142 savvy film watcher should be able to determin e that interracial relationships portrayed in popular film are flawed and highly likely to fail – unless of co urse the viewer thinks that interracial relationships only contain a sexual component and not any emotional elements. The importance of cultural studies in relation to the findi ngs indicate that sex, race and gender are indeed constructs in society that have complex meaning in an economic climate in which films are created, distributed and consumed. The findings of this study indicate that cultural studies are corr ect in proposing that media images of race, sex and gender are complex and compromised. Social Construction of Reality Theory The true power of a mass media like popular film is the mystical way in which the portrayal no matter how unrealistic is presented as natural or normal. We can see in the findings of the study that social constructs like gender and race are not biological and have no basis is scientific structure but in so cial design. The media generated images that are offered in this study illustrate the lens through which people come to accept concepts of men and women of color, in terracial relationships, sexual ity and power. The very art of social construction is the i nvisible way that “reality” is constructed for the viewer who comes to accept the hierarchy of power that is pres ented as real or normal. It is clear that women are still heavily stereotyped in the media portrayal of popular film while some ethnicities of women are completely omitted or overlooked. The hegemonic social order of one hundred years ago in America appears to be very much in tact in a film fantasy world in which women barely work, have se xual skills as their prominent ability and accept the will of outside forces or the ma n without question or expectation. The continuous use of stereotypes in portraying women and men in interracial relationships extends the social myth that interracial relationships are deviant and undesirable.

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143 Cultivation Theory The results of the content analysis clearly verify the findings in other studies on violence which show the significance of cultiv ation theory. Violence is being used more and more frequently by women in film ofte n showing women unrealistically fighting off several men at a time. A large number of women in the films under study are the victims or violence and some are in fact murdered. The implication is clear that the world of interracial sex and romance is riddled with vi olence and fear. Cultivation theory is also used to look not only at the results in the ar ea of violence but also in complex issues of sexualization, ethnicity and poli tical power. Contributions ar e made by this study to the cross cultural and comparative studies pr eviously done using cultivation theory. Cultivation theory explains the importance of the findings of this study as media contributes to one’s expectations about peopl e and places in the real world. The negative and limited portrayal of interraci al relationships established in the findings of this study indicate that interracial relationships in popular film over four decades have been showing audiences how rare and unsuccessful such relationships really are for romance but how desirable they ar e for sexual purposes only. Directions for Future Research and Limitations of the Study Clearly, more research on interracial rela tionships in media portrayal needs to be done. We have perhaps, like th e Titanic, only hit the tip of the iceberg on how deep the segregation issues and gender issues run in mass media portrayal. The scope of this study was strategic and based over four decades, but also limited to popular film. The research design of this study was created to examin e 38 years of popular film and to use two research methods, one qualitative and one quant itative, to gather the most interesting and insightful findings possible. Th e limitations of the study were:

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144 The categorizations of race could be furt her broken down and the pairings of men and women of different raci al groups could be looked at in more detail. The research could examine the comparisons or differences in interracial relationships in more detail. This would offer a greater insight into the role of race in the portrayal of gender. The portrayal of women in racial groups did not account for the diversity within that group For example, within the racial category of "Asian" exists a diverse and rich group of ethnicities a nd cultures that cannot be so easily labeled or stereotyped. This study was unable to offer a more focu sed emphasis within racial groups which would honor the differences w ithin racial or et hnic categories. Emphasis was placed on popular film according to box office success only. Video rentals were not possible be fore the 1970s but are obviously an important part of the film industry now. The films under study did not include indepe ndent film but reflected mostly films created and/or distributed by large film studios. Independent films are often produced without the pressure to be prof itable that Hollywood films experience. Also, Independent films tend to be less formulaic than Hollywood productions. The films in the study were mostly Ameri can and did not reflect films outside of the United States film industry where ma ny significant films are being produced. Although the study spanned 38 years of fi lm, the portrayal of interracial relationships in film is so rare it did not yield a very large samp le of films to be studied. The implications of this for my study were that it was often hard to calculate statistical significance because there were so few cases to study which made the chi-square results insignificant. For example, there was only one Asian man in an interracial relationship to st udy which makes findings on this limited. The relationships in the films were he terosexual only and di d not explore the portrayal of interracial same sex relationships. There is much work to be done in the area of the portrayal of gender, sex, and race in mass media. Directions for future rese arch could be done to correct for any of the limitations mentioned that existed within this study. Interracial relationships in film could be studied in a number of additional ways. Suggestions include: The portrayal of interracial relationships in international films The portrayal of interracial relationships before the anti-miscegenation laws of 1967 The portrayal of interracial rela tionships in independent films The portrayal of interracial relationships in gay or lesb ian relationships in film

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145 The portrayal of interracial relationships in televisi on during the same time period The portrayal of interra cial relationships in popular music videos Further research clearly needs to be done in the areas covered in this study and in the areas this study was unabl e to address. This examination has revealed many interesting findings that require further i nvestigation by media scholars. For example how has the portrayal of inte rracial relationships on popular television been during the same time frame in America? The spectrum of this study was narrowly constructed for objectivity, validity, and to meet time cons traints involved in using two research methods. Further research could be done in comparing the portrayal in Hollywood films to independent and foreign films. Als o, the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in television would be a very important study to be conducted while looking at the same time frame since the 1967 Loving Vs. Virginia decision in other areas of mass media. Another study might consider the portrayal of interracial relationships in all or other forms of mass media, including a dvertising in magazine and television commercials, Web advertising and also music vi deos. The findings of this research need to be questioned and applied to other areas of mass media in American culture to gain a greater perspective of the impact of the issu es of sexuality, race, and gender within the context of the historically forbidden interra cial relationship. Furt her, the reaction of audiences to mass media portrayal of interracial relationships needs to be studied in more detail. Survey research coul d also offer some interesti ng findings on the subject of interracial relationships. An important area of study in the portraya l of interracial relationships could be in the realm of children’ s entertainment and programming. By studying cartoons, children’s

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146 television programming, video games and magazine s we could explore if our children are being socialized to being more or less accepting of other races than in previous generations. This could provide very interes ting insights into whether interaction between gender and race has changed over decades too. In addition to doing further studies of quantitative methods, it is very important that qualitative studies be conducted that extend this research to the impact it has on the audience. Men and women in interracial rela tionships need to be given a voice during indepth interviews which allow them to share their real life versions of these stories. Also, focus groups of women of same race and th en women of mixed race demographics could be a powerful research tool. Focus groups that address the issues of men in interracial relationships need to be initiated. This study has shown that different races are portrayed differently by the film industry. The inequ itable way the mass media portray racial groups needs to be addressed within the groups impacted by such portrayals. Another aspect of future research that needs to be pursued is the way in which some ethnic and/or racial groups have been excluded completely from mass media. There are no East Indian or Middle Easter n men or women in any of the films under study over 38 years. Why are so many other ethnicities and racial groups completely ignored in the mass media? How or why are cer tain racial groups able to be represented in the mass media? What would it take to have the racial groups currently represented have a less stereotyped portrayal in the mass media? Will the future racial composition of the American landscape continue to be ignored on the Big Screen for the big dollar projects?

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147 Many people in interracial relationships ha ve “normal” and “healthy relationship” experiences comparable to people in same r ace relationships. These stories are missing in the mass media and need to be told openly. If we, as media scholars, do not create these studies, which offer to “humanize” wome n and men rather than dehumanize them, there will be little change in the future. It appears that this resear ch beats the grass for snakes in that it raises as many questions about race, sex, and gender in the mass media portrayal of interracial relationshi ps as it actually answers. It is interesting to note that so little research has been done on this area in the past. The research of interracial re lationship portrayal in media ha s been treated as rare and unusual as the portrayal itself in media! Does the lack of research on this topic indicate a greater lack of interest on issues of racial and sexual in teraction in America? How different is this attitude to those found in other media research around the world? This could be a focus of future research also. Why are race relations in America so heavily avoided in social conversation and in academic research? Is it impo lite or unpatriotic to question the progress of race relations in Amer ica because of the problematic history the country has because of issues such as slavery and immigration? Research and communication could actually as sist in this dialogue as the political and ethnic composition of the American population cont inues to become more diverse and less homogenized. Media research can play a significant ro le in creating a media literate public who enjoy the entertainment and educational aspect s of media while critically examining the meaning of the portrayal and representation it offers. There is room to do much more research and take these new findings to a higher level in mass media studies. It is

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148 important that people in interraci al relationships become just that – people. We need to move away from the categoriza tion of people as a race and see that they are people first, and then a member of a race. We need to see that people are complex and multi-faceted and not merely bodies with different color sk in or a collection of sexualized body parts. Conclusion Stuart Hall (1996) reminds us that popular culture is mythic (p. 474). Norman Denzin states that when considering this myth, we must be “on guard concerning what we learn about ourselves” (2002, p. 1890). Medi a scholars and sociologists suggest that children learn cultural definitions of gender and its roles in part from the cultural myth (Matti & Lisosky, 1999, p. 66). This study i nvolves some PG and G-rated films in which children have seen that interracial rela tionships, unlike the stor ylines they are used to seeing, showing relationships between sa me race people involved problems, violence, and a sad ending. We see this in the way th e boy does not get the girl in the end as he typically does. The message, which begins with the cultural myth for children, is continuously reinforced in adolescents and in to adulthood. As Ga yle Rubin (2000) notes in The Traffic in Women: Notes on the “Political Economy of Sex” the current sex/gender system “still carries the social burden of sex and gender of socializing the young” (p. 24). Film is a powerful medium for the cultural transmission of values in society from generation to generation. The study of interracial relationships in film spans almost four decades and each one offers a unique insight into interracial relationships. What becomes apparent in examining that journey more closely is th at the 1960s were about social change and unrest, which was demonstrated in the Civil Right’s movement and the Women’s Movement. The landmark film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) offered an open

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149 dialogue between a black and a white family about liberalism confronting racism. The 1970s offered the most examples of interracial relationships with the least likelihood of opposition. It was an age of strong black ch aracters like Shaft and strong Indian characters like Billy Jack. All this, however, is quickly lost in the political correctness of the 1980s where, with the exception of thr ee James Bond Films, there are only five popular films with interracial relationships as a theme. As we move into the 1990s, we no longer see white woman or Indian women port rayed in interracial re lationships. It is clear by then that Asian women are the most desirable minority on the Big Screen. In the 2000s, however, something shifts. Half way through the decade by 2005 there have been seven films with interracial rela tionships as a theme, almost more than all of the 1990s. Yet, we do not see any white or Indian women in the portrayals. Are we entering the era of multiculturalism in American Film? Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1998) notes that there is a cultu ral war going on and asks “if multiculturalism is just a pretty name for et hnic chauvinism, who needs it?” He goes on to say that “the challenge f acing America in the next century will be the shaping, at long last, of a truly common public culture, one responsive to the long silenced cultures of color” (p.23). There was a l ong silence for black woman as l eading ladies in popular film . and now, when there is a lightskinne d black woman playing a leading lady as a Bond Girl in a James Bond film, can we call this multiculturalism or is it ethnic chauvinism instead of regular old white male ch auvinism? Is this progress? Is it what Stuart Hall (1996) has called the “theatre of desires, a space of popular fantasies” (p. 474) rather than a way in which we can use communication mediums to overcome barriers of the past, history, socio-economics, and power ? As Feagin (2000) asks, “how can we

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150 overcome the structures of racism that are so deeply engrained in the marrow of this democracy?” (p.270) If culture is mythic as Hall suggests, then it appears that Hollywood and popular film seeks to keep reinventing the traditional fairy tale in which the fair, handsome prince must rescue the beautiful but needy princess fr om her imminent demise. Fairy tales are recorded going back to before 8 A.D. A lthough fairy tales have developed into a collective unconsciousness in society, problems emerge when “one accepts the tales and their values as a part of one’s psyche without questioning thei r validity” (R obbins, 1998, p 60). Fairytales have been justifiably cr iticized by feminist for their “narrow portrayal of women as passive objects, as romantic ized innocents, as victims of mental and physical abuse” (Stone, 1998, p. 20). Stone argues that people are drawn to the traditional stories because they offer a “transform ative potential” and it is this change that “continues to draw contemporary tellers and listeners” (p.21). The challenge remains when the same fairy tales are used as measures to preven t transformation, not encourage it. One of the most recognizable fairy tales, th e Cinderella story, features a small glass slipper as the Prince’s key to finding his true love. In Chinese ancient culture, women had their feet bound tightly to make them app ear small and exotic. For this reason, the glass slipper is an important signifier of beauty. In toda y’s culture, the thin, and lightskinned black body of Halle Berry as a Bond Girl could be co nsidered the “glass slipper” prized by the older white male (Bailey, 1998, p. 22). The myth of popular film and interr acial relationships today is a gory tale. The prevalence of violence in the films studied here is both discouraging and disturbing.

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151 Violence against women and even murder contin ue to be used gratuitously in film. Instead of being minimized, violence is being cultivated as normal for women to initiate as well as men. Some media scholars hol d a vision for better times ahead. Norman Denzin (2002) envisions a new cinematic era in which we say farewell to the violence of popular film and the racist le gacy in American film by founding father director D. W. Griffith. This reference is made to end finally an era of film built on the success of the legacy of sexist and racist storylines and leading men. Many media scholars have commented that th e favorite hue of Hollywood is green. The implication is that the incentive to make films the way studios do is to comply with a profitable formula and thereby, profits, justifyi ng the old stereotypes a nd jaded storylines. In Black Lenses, Black Voice s: African American Film Now Mark A. Reid explores the success of independent films with a “womanist” and independent film Sanfoka, which was both cinematically valuable a nd financially successful. In 2006, Crash a film which bravely portrays the harshness of race re lations in America stands nominated for an Academy Award. Is America ready for more than the same old story redressed in a more sexualized and violent veil? The desire and the possibility exist that white and non-white portrayals of “reality” could re present something more humanistic and respectful about women and men than has b een offered in the past four decades of popular film. Such a change will require a vision and a commitment from mass media makers in America. The segregated past seems to be kept actively al ive on the big screen. The stereotypical portrayals of interracial relationships re veal bigger issues, indicating that American race and gendered relationship ha ve not come as far as most people would like to think.

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152 The idea for a more integrated America represented in film may come from the next generation or even from another form of mass media. Segregating love along color lines has not been a mute point in the popular music industry. The hi story of music with rock ‘n’ roll, blues, jazz, rap, and hip hop ha s been one in which the color lines have made room for more voices. The big screen may still be segregated but this in not true in all forms of mass media. Race has been more successfully integrated in recorded music over the years than in any other form of media. Is film capable of such integration? Recently, pop music icon Gwen Stefani cr eated a very popular and commercially successful duet with Hip-hop sensation Andr e 3000, entitled "The Color of Love" (2005) which questions the progress in American inte rracial dating relationshi ps. The lyrics of the song’s chorus include: We’ve got a long way to go When snow hits the asphalt, cold looks and bad talk come We’ve got a long way to go It’s beyond Martin Luther upgrade computer Repeatedly, the question is asked “what colo r is love?” In response, the lyrics echo the sentiment that interracial relationsh ips are still taboo in American culture: His skin wasn’t the same color as mine But he was fine, he was fine If all men are made equal Then he was fine, he was fine Up until the time we went out on a date It was fine. I was fine Now, I’m getting dirty looks, I wonder what they’d say If we were blind, we were blind The song makes a plea to see race relations in America improve, stating: “There shouldn’t be a rule how to choose your love r.” The song concl udes with the phrase “we’ve got a long way to go, we gotta get there quicker” (Stefani, 2004).

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153 Outside of this pop music mantra from a highly successful pop diva and hip hop sensation, there seems to be little urging in so ciety to see a new approach to interracial relationship acceptance. The implications of the study conducted are that the portrayal of women in film continues to perpetuate limited stereotypes of sexuality, gender, and race. Sexuality is exploited and exaggerated beyond any recognition of reality for women in their portrayal of interracial relationships in film. Perhaps more disturbing is the way in which the stereotypical portrayal of certain r aces is used to trap people into contrived notions of what it means to be a member of their race. If, as media scholars propose, people learn about race through the media, then the world is a segr egated place where intimacy is concerned. Gamson, Croteau, Hoynes, and Sasson (2002) point out that media research can serve as space to scrutinize limited c onstructs by mass media message creators: The undetermined nature of media discourse allows plenty of r oom for challengers such as social movements to offer competi ng constructions of reality and to find support for them from readers whose daily lives may l ead them to construct meaning in ways that go beyond media imagery (p. 373). In many ways, the findings of the qualitati ve and quantitative re search conducted in this study offer a bleak overview of the portr ayal of women and of men in interracial relationships although th e portrayal of women is clearly more disturbing. Gamson, et al (2002) claim that the current media operate in ways to encourage apathy and cynicism (p. 391). Perhaps such apathy is the explan ation for why stereotyped and degrading representations of women continue. The con tinued lack of equity in the portrayal of gender and race in Hollywood seems to be tolerated and, in fact, deemed as “normal” by

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154 people of all colors. Spanning over a 38-y ear period, which included the era following the Civil Right's Movement and the Women's M ovement in America, there appears to be little movement in the improved or more expa nsive portrayal of wo men as healthy, wellbalanced and three-dimensional characters who exist beyond historic stereotypes. This research serves as a call to take the portrayal of women in general, but absolutely in their portrayal in interracial relationships, to a higher level in future. Women are still portrayed on the "edge of im portance" regardless of their color. Few women are portrayed as anything more than sexualized objects that show equality only in their ability to have sex and to use violen ce like a man. The overall message is clear: women only matter on the big screen in their capacity to make men look more like men. All women are not portrayed equally and race does indeed matter when it comes to the selection of a romantic or sexual partner on the big screen. It is important to begin a dialogue that moves us into a new era of mass media portrayal of men and women as people w ho are multi-dimensional individuals with a unique voice, not carbon copies of archaic ster eotypes. We have to ask for more from filmmakers, America’s storytelle rs, and modern myth makers. We have to believe that change is possible and important. To reiterat e Gwen Stefani’s lyrics, "we’ve got a long way to go, we gotta get there quicker” ( 2004). According to Film Feminist Sue Thornham, the last point is a very important one: filmmakers minds must be changed or this stereotyping will go on forever . films express the fantasies and subconscious needs of their (mostly male) creators” (1999, p. 15). Women of all races must become multi-faceted images in American films.

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155 As the United States faces a revolution in its racial and ethnic make-up, the metaphor of the melting pot, where race and et hnicity blend and are annihilated as the “melting,” seems both outdated and deeming. In order to “melt” in to the melting pot of mass media portrayal, it appears that people are being asked to forgo their racial identity or ethnicity to become as white as possibl e. Popular music pe rformer and songwriter Nelly Furtado writes in her song, “Place my face on your magazine and make me look whiter than I seem… wash away my ethnicity.” The rare and unusual portrayal of interracial relationships shows that society is still heavily segregated on the big sc reen and interaction between r aces in sexual or romantic relationships is limited. When there is race mixing on the big screen the portrayal is often negative and stereotypically limited. Is society ready to allow an array of skin shades to be shown as both positive and negati ve on the big screen? It appears that for some actors of darker skin color more positive roles are emerging but, are we ready to pair such dark-skinned actors with white wo men or to give an East Indian or Middle Eastern woman a positive leading role? It appears that the talented Morgan Freeman-like actors of this society will continue to be cast to rescue the desperate Ashley Judd-like characters of this world and do so as a pe rfect gentleman, an asexual, and safe “model minority,” never threatening the hundreds of year s of racial order. Further research needs to be done in the area of interaction of race and gender in other areas of mass media. It is obvious that the world of media needs to be further explored for evidence of hierarchy in the treatment of race when the person is in interac tion with a person of another race, not merely inter acting with their own race.

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156 Instead of a melting pot, could we envision a deluxe pizza in which every colorful ingredient maintains its unique color and flavor and is not exp ected to mutate to be more palatable? In the place of the melting pot, as America looks to the future, the mass media film industry has an opportunity to entertain a new generation of filmgoers. Both males and females will seek out, appreciate, and iden tify with the multi-faceted characters and diverse images of the “Americans” of all colors they see on the big screen in both positive and negative roles, and maybe even communicate instead of killing one another or having meaningless sexual encounters. Wh en people in interraci al relationships see the popular film version of interracial relati onships on the big scr een the portrayal is unnecessarily rare and most likely unkind. The element that appears to be missing is the multifaceted nature of two people in a relations hip regardless of thei r race or skin tone. One of America’s greatest orators, Martin Luther King Jr. expressed the importance of race relations in American frequently before his assassination and worked diligently to express that issues of race do not only impact the minorities in soci ety, but people of all ethnicities and races. He reminded us that “all people are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”

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157 APPENDIX A CONTENT ANALYSIS CODING SHEET FILM CODE: RELATIONSHIP CODE: CODER INITALS: 1. Name of film: 2. Film Genre: 01-Drama 02-Comedy 03Romance 04-Thriller 05-Horror 06-Musical 07-Animation 08-Action/Adventure 09-Crime/Gangster 10War 11-Fantasy/Science fiction 12-Western 3. Female character's name: 4. Age of female character: 01 -11 years old 20 years old 02 -21 years old 30 years old 03 -31 years old 40 years old 04 -41 years old50 years old 05-51 years old 60 years old 0660 years old and above 5. Age of male character: 01 -11 years old 20 years old 02 -21 years old 30 years old 03 -31 years old 40 years old 04 -41 years old50 years old 05-51 years old 60 years old

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158 0660 years old and above 6. Main Film Role of female: 01Principal 02-Supporting 03-Minor 7. Her Race/Ethnicity: 01White 02-Ambivalent Minority: 03-Black 04-Amerindian 05Asian 06-Hispanic 8. Race/Ethnicity of male partner: 01-White 02-Minority ambivalent 03-Black 04-Amerindian 05-Asian 06-Hispanic 07Other (write in) 9. Gender Attributes of female: 01-Competitive 02-Athletic 03-Strong 04-Risk taker 05-Aggressive 06-Achievement 07-Intelligent 08-Dangerous 09-Responsible 10-Sensitive 11-Flirtatious 12-Romantic 13-Deceitful 14-Untrustworthy 15-Manipulative 16Emotional 10. Gender Attributes of male: 01-Competitive 02-Athletic

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159 03-Strong 04-Risk taker 05-Aggressive 06-Achievement 07-Intelligent 08-Dangerous 09-Responsible 10-Sensitive 11-Flirtatious 12-Romantic 13-Deceitful 14-Untrustworthy 15-Manipulative 16Emotional 11. Character Perception Rating: 01Positive 02Negative 03-Mostly positive, some negative 04-Mostly negative, some positive 12. Social Vulnerability of female: 01--None Present (If so, complete the following) 02--Physical disability 03--speech impediment 04--low intelligence, 05--poverty 06--absent minded/confused 07--parent missing or dead 08--child missing 09--single parent 10--widow 11--overweight 12--Drug addicted beha vior (drug/alcohol) 13--prisoner/fugitive 14--Eccentric 15--Allegiance to family 16--Infertility 17--Victim of physical violence 18--Victim of verbal abuse 19--Victim of sexual violence 20--Killed. 13. Social Vulnerability of male: 01-None Present (If so, complete the following)

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160 02--Physical disability 03--speech impediment 04--low intelligence, 05--poverty 06--absent minded/confused 07--parent missing or dead 08--child missing 09--single parent 10--widower 11--overweight 12--Drug addicted beha vior (drug/alcohol) 13--prisoner/fugitive 14--Eccentric 15--Allegiance to family 16--Infertility 17--Victim of physical violence 18--Victim of verbal abuse 19--Victim of sexual violence 20--Killed. 14. Occupation: 01-None identified 02-Athlete 03Attorney 04-Businessperson 05-Educator 06-Entertainer 07-Factory Worker 08Farmer 09-Homemaker 10-Law enforcement 11-Physican 12Nurse 13-Restaurant business (wait staff, cook, bartender) 14-Secretary/clerical 15-Student 16-Writer 17-Hotel business 18-Spy/government 19-Artist 20-Independently wealthy (does not need to work) 21-Unemployed 22Criminal/convict 23Prostitute 24-Military 25Service oriented (flight attenda nt, hairdresser) (write in answer)

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161 26-Other (Write in) 15. Violent behavior: 01--None 02--Violence is committed against her and she does not respond w/violence 03--Violence is committed against her and she does respond with violence 04--She initiates violence against other people 16. Ultimate Value of female: 01--Romance 02--Self Interest 03--Power/political interest 04--Professional interest 05--Family affiliation 06--Financial gain 07--Notoriety/fame 08--Religious/spiritual value 09--Patriotism 10--Sexual prowess 11--Revenge 12--Unclear 13--None 17. Relationship opposition: (Rate 1-a l ittle, 2-moderately, 3-Completely) 01--None 02--From her family 03--From his family 04--From his friends 05--From her friends 06--From society 07--From her ex-partners 08--From his ex-partners 09--From potential other suitors 18. Relationship Outcome: 01--Marriage 02--Break up initiated by him 03--Break up initiated by her 04--Ambivalent (unclear) 05--Dating Commitment 06--Friendship 07--She dies 08--He dies 19. Her Skills:

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162 01--Dances 02--Sings 03--Martial arts 04--Athletic skills 05--Computer hacker 06--Weapons expert 07--Gymnast 08--Sexual 09--Supernatural 10--Comedian 11--Leadership 20. Ultimate Value of the Male: 01--Romance 02--Self Interest 03--Power/political interest 04--Professional interest 05--Family affiliation 06--Financial gain 07--Notoriety/fame 08--Religious/spiritual value 09--Patriotism 10--Sexual prowess 11--Revenge 12--Unclear 13--None 21. Sexual relations initiation: 01-None 02-Initiated by her 03-Initiated by him 04-Mutual initiation 05-Unclear 22. Sexual Activity :( Smith) 01-In a marriage 02-Outside a marriage/affair 03-In longstanding heterosexual relationship (greater than or equal to one year) 04-In short term heterosexual re lationship (Less than one year) 05-One sexual encounter (one night stand) 06-Other (write in) 07-None 23. Her physical appearan ce: (Signorielli) 01-Extremely Sexy clothing

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163 02-Sexy Clothing 03-Business attire 04-Conservative attire 05-Neutral clothing 06-Formal attire 07-Working class clothing 08-Ragged looking 09-Costume/uniform 24Exposure of body parts (Signorielli) 01-Chest/cleavage 02-Legs 03-Midriff 04-Back 05-Naked 06-Very little skin shown 25. Year Film was released: 01-1967 1969 02-1970s 03-1980s 04-1990s 05-2000 2003 26. How is power distribute d in the relationship? 01-He has the power (1 somewhat, 2moderately, 3-mostly, 4-completely) 02-She has the power 1-somewhat, 2-moderately, 3-mostly, 4completely) 03-Shared evenly 04-Unable to tell 27. How long does the sexual or physical relationship last in the film: 01-The entire film 02-Most of the film 03-Less than half of the film 04-Briefly 28. Who controls the outcome of the relationship? 01-He makes the final decision 02-She makes the final decision 03-They make the decision together 04-Some outside force (death, war, illness) 29. What sacrifice does the female make for the other person in the relationship? 01-None 02-Personal

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164 03-Professional 04-Physical 05-Monetary 06-Politically 07-Family 08-Other friendships 09-Religious 10-Ambition 11-Homeland 12-Personal vice (drugs, alcohol, sex) 13-Children 14-Current relationship with other man 15-Other (write in) 30. What sacrifice does the male make for the other person in the relationship? 01-None 02-Personal 03-Professional 04-Physical 05-Monetary 06-Politically 07-Family 08-Other friendships 09-Religious 10-Ambition 11-Homeland 12-Personal vice (drugs, alcohol, sex) 13-Children 14-Current relationshi p with other woman 15-Other (write in) 31. In the script does the female get labele d negatively by another character in the film? 01-Slut 02-Bitch 03-Whore 04-Witch 05-Evil 07-Drunk 08-Liar 09-Cheater 10-Traitor 11-User 12-Fucking broad 13-Junkie 14-Other (write in)

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165 32. Is the negative label given to the female in reference to? 01-Her ethnicity/race 02-Her religion 03-Her behavior 04-Her sexuality 05-Her economic status 06-Her addictions 07-Her gender 08-Her interracial relationship 09-Her intelligence 10-Other (state) 33. Do other people in the film, complim ent the female or give her praise" 01-Often 02-Sometimes 03-Never List what positive compliments she gets from other actors: 34. Is the positive label given to the female in reference to? 01-Her ethnicity/race 02-Her religion 03-Her behavior 04-Her sexuality 05-Her economic status 06-Her addictions 07-Her gender 08-Her interracial relationship 09-Her intelligence 10-Other (state) 35. In the script does the male get labeled negatively by another ch aracter in the film? 01-Jerk 02-Asshole 03-Dick 04-Loser 05-User 07-Drunk 08-Liar 09-Cheater 10-Traitor 11-Son of a bitch 12-Bastard 13-Injun 14-Fucker 15-Jack ass

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166 16-Other (write in) 36. Is the negative label given to the male in reference to? 01-Her ethnicity/race 02-His religion 03-His behavior 04His sexuality 05His economic status 06His addictions 07His gender 08His interracial relationship 09His intelligence 10His job 11Other (state) 37. Do other people in the film, complim ent the male or give him praise: 01Often 02Sometimes 03Never List what positive compliments she gets from other actors: 38. Is the positive label given to the male in reference to? 01Her ethnicity/race 02Her religion 03Her behavior 04Her sexuality 05Her economic status 06Her addictions 07Her gender 08Her interracial relationship 09Her intelligence 10His job 11Other (state) 39. What challenges does the couple face in the relationship? 01-Cultural issues 02Legal issues 03-Geographic issues 04Communication issues 05Economic issues 07Religious issues 08Political issues 09Behavioral issues 10Her lack of commitment to the relationship 11His lack of commitment to the relationship 12Issues from past relationships

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167 40. Does the female seem pleased with the outcome of the relationship? 01-Completely 02-Somewhat 03-Not at all 04-Unknown (dead, not indicated) 05Other (write in) 41. Is the interracial relationship cent ral to the movie plot/story line? 01Central to the movie storyline/plot 02A subplot to the movie storyline/plot 03Incidental to the movie storyline/plot 04Completely unrelated to the movie storyline/plot Thank you. That completes this coding sheet.

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168 THE COLOR OF LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN Content Analysis Code Book Coder Name: Your name or initials 1. Name/ID # of film: The film will be give n an ID that will be placed on the box on a label. 1b. ID number of the relationship coded in on this sheet. Give the fi rst relationship coded in this film the designation of 001, the sec ond one is 002, and the third one is 003 and so on. 2. Film Genre: This is the categ orization of certain types of art based upon its style, form or content. They are genera lizations about the film. The IMDb film fact sheet that accompanies your DVD or VHS clearly states the genre of the film. Select ALL that apply. Many have more than one genre, but just use the choices listed here. (IMDb database) 01-Drama 02-Comedy 03Romance 04-Thriller 05-Horror 06-Musical 07-Animation 08-Action/Adventure 09-Crime/Gangster 10War 11-Fantasy/Science fiction 12-Western 3. Character's name: Write down the name of the female character who is involved in an interracial romantic (invol ves kissing or holding hands ) relationship or a sexual relationship with a man of a different racial/ethnic group from her. Coders only code for one woman at a time in each film if there is more than one woman in an interracial relationship with a man. We are coding heterosexual relationships only. If the man has an interracial relationship with more than one woman at a time, use another coding sheet to code for her. If she has an interracial relationship with more than one man in a film, use separate sheets fo r each relationship and give each character a separate ID number as indicated in #2 above. 4. Age of female: If her age is not clearly st ated, guess what age she is portrayed at in the film. If you cannot tell at all, then select 07. 01 -11 years old 20 years old

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169 02 -21 years old 30 years old 03 -31 years old 40 years old 04 -41 years old50 years old 05-51 years old 60 years old 0660 years old and above 07Unable to tell 5. Age of male character: If his age is not clearly stated, guess what age he is portrayed at in the film. If you cannot tell at all, then select 07. 01 -11 years old 20 years old 02 -21 years old 30 years old 03 -31 years old 40 years old 04 -41 years old50 years old 05-51 years old 60 years old 0660 years old and above 6. Main Film Role of female: How often is the female portrayed in the film? Principal means she is a main character with equal appearance time and/or significance than any other character in the film. (Examp le, Pocahontas is the le ad character in the film Pocahontas and has equal time and portr ayal as John Smith, the main character.) A supporting character is one who has a sign ificant relationship a nd active impact on some aspect of the principal character's life. This relationship and active impact is important to the story and observed thr ough the supporting charac ter's actions and behavior (Smith code book). (Example, for example in the film Die Another Day Halle Berry plays an important role in supporti ng the character of Ja mes Bond. Although she is often shown, she is less significant than Bond) A minor character is one who has no activ e impact on the story. (Smith codebook). (Example, in the film Shaft, the character Pamela is briefly in the film and has a short sexual encounter with Shaft.) 01Principal 02-Supporting 03-Minor 7. Her Race/Ethnicity: This refers to the race/ethnicity traits of the portrayal of the women in the film. If the women's actual ethnici ty or race is different from the character she portrays, then mark it according to the portrayal. (For example in Dances with Wolves, although she appears to be white, Ma ry McDowell is portrayed as an Indian woman, so although she is actually white, you wo uld code her mark American Indian as she portrays a native American Indian women in the film). 01White 02-Ambivalent/minority, but unclear: 03-Black 04-Amerindian 05Asian 06-Hispanic 07Mixed race (Specify)

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170 8. Race/Ethnicity of male partner: This refers to the ethnicity and/or race of the man in the interracial relationship you are coding for in the film. It refers to how he is portrayed in the film. If his portrayal is different than his actual race and/or ethnicity, mark for the way he is portrayed in th e film (For example in Little Big Man although Dustin Hoffman is white, he is portrayed as an Indian man in the film therefore you would mark him as Amerindian.) 01White 02-Ambivalent/minority, but unclear: 03-Black 04-Amerindian 05Asian 06-Hispanic 9. Gender Attributes of female: 01-Competitive 02-Athletic 03-Strong 04-Risk taker 05-Aggressive 06-Achievement-oriented 07-Intelligent 08-Dangerous 09-Responsible 10-Sensitive 11-Flirtatious 12-Romantic 13-Deceitful 14-Untrustworthy 15-Manipulative 16Emotional 17Honest/has integrity 10. Gender Attributes of her male partner: 01-Competitive 02-Athletic 03-Strong 04-Risk taker 05-Aggressive 06-Achievementoriented 07-Intelligent 08-Dangerous 09-Responsible 10-Sensitive 11-Flirtatious 12-Romantic

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171 13-Deceitful 14-Untrustworthy 15-Manipulative 16Emotional 17. Honest/has integrity 11. Character Perception rating of the female character: What way is the female perceived by the audience? Is she likeable a nd positive or is she portrayed negative? This refers to if the character is portrayed in a way that the audience likes her, and then her portrayal is positive. If she is portrayed in a way that the audience does not like her, she is portrayed positively. If her portrayal is both negative and positive then try to determine which is most dominant. (For example, in Die Another Day, Halle Berry's character Jinx is portrayed as being very smart and resourceful in helping James Bond save America and the Western world. Her portray al is positive. In Shaft, the character of Pamela is played as a very sexually aggressi ve female who has a one night stand. She is portrayed in a negative way. In Pulp Fiction, the character of Mia played by Uma Thurman is played slightly negatively as sh e has a drug overdose, but is still shown in a positive way for the remainder of the film) 01Positive 02Negative 03-Mostly positive, some negative 04-Mostly negative, some positive 12. Social Vulnerability of female: This refers to traits or events that make the female seem like to struggle or experi ence hardship in the storyline. This could happen in the back story of the film and not just du ring the film, for example Pocahontas has no mother, but this happened befo re the film storyline begins. 01-None Present (If so, complete the followi ng. Mark all answers that apply.) 02--Physical disability 03--speech impediment 04--low intelligence, 05--poverty 06--absent minded/confused 07--parent missing or dead 08--child missing 09--single parent 10--widow 11--overweight 12--Drug addicted beha vior (drug/alcohol) 13--prisoner/fugitive 14--Eccentric 15--Allegiance to family 16--Infertility 17--Victim of physical violence 18--Victim of verbal abuse

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172 19--Victim of sexual violence 20--Dead 13. Social Vulnerability of male: This refers to traits or events that make the female seem like to struggle or experience hardship in th e storyline. This could happen in the back story of the film and not just during the film. 01-None Present (If so, complete the following) Mark all answers that apply. 02--Physical disability 03--speech impediment 04--low intelligence, 05--poverty 06--absent minded/confused 07--parent missing or dead 08--child missing 09--single parent 10--widower 11--overweight 12--Drug addicted beha vior (drug/alcohol) 13--prisoner/fugitive 14--Eccentric 15--Allegiance to family 16--Infertility 17--Victim of physical violence 18--Victim of verbal abuse 19--Victim of sexual violence 20--Dead. 14. Occupation of female: Does she appear to have a job? If so, what does she do for a living -for example in Flashdance the main character play ed by Jennifer Beals is a welder (factory worker) by day and a stripper /dancer by night. Ma rk all answers that apply. 01-None identified 02-Athlete 03Attorney 04-Businessperson 05-Educator 06-Entertainer 07-Factory Worker 08Farmer 09-Homemaker 10-Law enforcement 11-Physican 12Nurse 13-Restaurant business (wait staff, cook, bartender) 14-Secretary/clerical

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173 15. Student 16 Writer 17Hotel business 18Spy/government 19Artist 20-Independently wealthy (does not need to work) 21-Unemployed 22Criminal/convict 23Prostitute 24-Military 25Service oriented (flight attenda nt, hairdresser) (write in answer) 26 Other (Write in) 15. Violent behavior of the female: Do you see th e female in acts of violence? What is her role in the violent behavior? If multiple acts of violence occur in the film, code for all that apply. 01--None 02--Violence is committed against her and she does not respond w/violence 03--Violence is committed against her and she does respond with violence 04--She initiates violence against other people 16. Ultimate Value of female: What does she a ppear to value the most in her decision making? What has the greatest influence ove r her decisions? Ma rk all that apply. 01--Romance 02--Self Interest 03--Power/political interest 04--Professional interest/career 05--Family affiliation 06--Financial gain 07--Notoriety/fame 08--Religious/spiritual value 09--Patriotism 10-Sex 11-Revenge 12-Drugs/Alcohol 13Pride/reputation 14Unclear 15-None 17. Relationship opposition: Do the other charac ters in the film have an objection to the interracial relationship? For example in Gue ss Who's Coming to Dinner, both his and her parent's object to the marriage and it is stat ed that society will also be against the marriage. (Rate each possible opposition on a scale 1-3: 1-a little, 2-moderately, 3-Completely) 01--None 02--From her family

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174 03--From his family 04--From his friends 05--From her friends 06--From society 07--From her ex-partners 08--From his ex-partners 09-From potential other suitors 18. Relationship Outcome: What is the ultimat e outcome of the relati onship at the end of the film? 01--Marriage 02--Break up initiated by him 03--Break up initiated by her 04--Ambivalent (unclear) 05--Dating Commitment 06--Friendship 07--She dies 08--He dies 19. Her Skills: What abilities does the fema le character show during the film? For example in the Bodyguard, Whitney Houston, sings dances and has her own business. Mark all skills that apply. 01-Dances 02--Sing 03--Martial arts 04--Athletic skills 05--Computer hacker 06--Weapons expert 07--G 08--Sexual 09--Supernatural 10--Comedian 11Leadership 20. Ultimate value of male: What seems to motivate him in his decision making? Mark all that apply. 01--Romance 02--Self Interest 03--Power/political interest 04--Professional interest/career 05--Family affiliation 06--Financial gain 07--Notoriety/fame 08--Religious/spiritual value 09--Patriotism 10-Sex

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175 11-Revenge 12-Drugs/Alcohol 13--Reputation/pride 13-Unclear 14-None 21. Sexual relations initiation: If the couple is sexually active, who made the first move? 01-None (No sexual relationship) 02-Initiated by her 03-Initiated by him 04-Mutual initiation 05Unclear 22. Sexual Activity :( Smith) what is the rela tionship of the people who are having sex? 01-In a marriage 02-Outside a marriage/affair 03-In longstanding heterosexual relationship (greater than or equal to one year) 04-In short term heterosexual re lationship (Less than one year) 05--One sexual encounte r (one night stand) 06-Other (write in) 07None 23. Her physical appearance: (S ignorielli) What way does th e female most frequently appear in the film? What way is she most commonly dressed? 01Extremely Sexy clothing (Scan tily clad, tight fighting) 02Sexy Clothing (revealing, implied) 03Business attire 04Conservative attire 05Neutral clothing 06Formal attire 07Working class clothing 08Ragged looking 09Costume/uniform 10-Naked 24Exposure of body parts (Si gnorielli): If the women wear 's revealing clothing, what body parts are featured and visi ble? Mark all that apply. 01Chest/cleavage 02-Legs 03Midriff 04Back 05Naked 06Very little skin shown 07None (she is conservatively covered up)

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176 25. Year Film was released: (This will be on the IMDd sheet and on the cover of the box of the DVD or VHS.) 011967 1969 021970s 031980s 041990s 052000 2003 21. Is the interracial relationship central to th e movie plot/story line? Is the film really about the relationship or about something else? For example, In Guess who's coming to dinner, the plot is about th e relationship. In Die another Day, the film is about international spying and adventure. 01Central to the movie storyline/plot 02A subplot to the movie storyline/plot 03Incidental to the movie storyline/plot 04Completely unrelated to the movie storyline/plot 26. How is power distributed in the relationshi p? From the way they talk to each other and act, which seems to be in charge of what is decided? 01-He has the power (1 somewhat, 2moderately, 3-mostly, 4-completely) 02She has the power 1-somewhat, 2-moderately, 3-mostly, 4completely) 03Shared evenly 04Unable to tell 27. How long does the sexual or physical relationship last in the film: 01-The entire film 02Most of the film 03Less than half of the film 04Briefly 28. Who controls the outcome of the relationship? 01He makes the final decision 02She makes the final decision 03They make the decision together 04Some outside force (death, war, illness) 05No one seems to decide anything, it just happens 29. What sacrifice does the female make for the other person in the relationship? Mark all that apply. 01None 02Personal 03Professional 04Physical 05Monetary 06Politically 07Family

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177 08Other friendships 09Religious 10Ambition 11Homeland 12Personal vice (dr ugs, alcohol, sex) 13Children 14Current relationship with other man 15Other (write in) 30. What sacrifice does the male make for th e other person in the re lationship? Mark all that apply. 01None 02Personal 03Professional 04Physical 05Monetary 06Politically 07Family 08Other friendships 09Religious 10Ambition 11Homeland 12Personal vice (dr ugs, alcohol, sex) 13Children 14Current relationshi p with other woman 15Other (write in) 31. In the script does the female get labeled negatively by another character in the film? Make note of any name calling that is used in the script about the female or to her directly. It can be said outside of her pres ence in the film too. Write down any term not listed here. 01Slut 02Bitch 03Whore 04Witch 05Evil 07Drunk 08Liar 09Cheater 10Traitor 11User 11Other (Write down exact wording) 32. Is the negative label given to the female in reference to? 01Her ethnicity/race 02Her religion

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178 03Her behavior 04Her sexuality 05Her economic status 06Her addictions 07Her gender 08Her interracial relationship 09Her intelligence 10-Other (state) 33. Do other people in the film, complim ent the female or give her praise" 01Often 02Sometimes 03Never List what positive compliments she gets from other actors: 34. Is the positive label given to the female in reference to? 01Her ethnicity/race 02Her religion 03Her behavior 04Her sexuality 05Her economic status 06Her addictions 07Her gender 08Her interracial relationship 09Her intelligence 10Her appearance 11-Other (state) 35. In the script does the male get labeled negatively by another ch aracter in the film? Make note of any name calling that is used in th e script about the male or to him directly. It can be said outside of his presence in the film too. Write down any term not listed here. 01Jerk 02Asshole 03Dick 04Loser 05User 07Drunk 08Liar 09Cheater 10Traitor 11Other (Write down exact wording) 36. Is the negative label given to the male in reference to: (Mark all that apply?) 01His ethnicity/race 02His religion

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179 03His behavior 04His sexuality 05His economic status 06His addictions 07His gender 08His interracial relationship 09His intelligence 10Other (state) 37. Do other people in the film, complim ent the male or give him praise: 01Often 02Sometimes 03Never List what positive compliments she gets from other actors: 38. Is the positive label given to the male in reference to? 01Her ethnicity/race 02Her religion 03Her behavior 04Her sexuality 05Her economic status 06Her addictions 07Her gender 08Her interracial relationship 09Her intelligence 10-Other (state) 39. What challenges does the couple face in the relationship? Mark all that apply. 01-Cultural issues (soc iety, prejudice, race) 02Legal issues (laws, rules) 03-Geographic issu es (distance) 04Communication issues (don't unde rstand each other, can't get along) 05Economic issues (financial, employment) 07Religious issues (difference of religious/spiritual beliefs) 08Political issues (opposing views on politics, loyalty to opposing views) 09Behavioral issues (Acti ng or behaving a certain way) 10Her lack of commitment to the relations hip (She doesn't care as much as he does) 11His lack of commitment to the relations hip (He doesn't care as much as she does) 12Issues from past relationships (Exes th at emerge, pain from past relationships, inability to let go of someone from the past) 13Other (write in) 40. Does the female seem pleased with the outcome of the relationship? 01-Completely 02-Somewhat 03-Not at all

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180 04-Unknown (dead, not indicated) 05Other (write in) 41. Is the interracial relationship central to the plot/story line? 01Central to the story line/plot 02-A subplot to the movie story line/plot 03-Indicental to the movie story line/plot 04Completely unrelated to the movie story line/plot Thank you so much

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181 APPENDIX B MOVIES FROM 1967 – 2005 IN TOP 15 BOX OFFICE SALESWITH AN INTERRACIAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP FILMOGRAPHY LISTED IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER Source: boxoffice.com retrieve d on July 7, 2004 and January 10, 2006 1967 Kramer, S. (Producer and director). (1967) Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Columbia Pictures, USA. Broccoli, C & H. Saltzman, (Producers), & Gilbert, L. (Direct or). (1967). You Only Live Twice, Eon Productions, USA/UK. 1970 Millar, S. (Producer) & Penn, A. (D irector), (1970). Little Big Man, Paramount Studios, USA. 1971 Solti, R (Producer). & Frank, T.C. (Director). (1971). Billy Jack Billy Jack Entertainment, USA. Freeman, J. (Producer). & Parks, G. (Director). (1971). Shaft Warner Bros. USA. 1973 Broccoli, C & H. Saltzman, (Producers), & Hamilton, G. (Director). (1973). Live and Let Die Eon Productions, USA/UK. Jewison, N. (Producer & Director). (1973) Jesus Christ Superstar Universal Pictures, USA. Heller, P. & Lee, B. (Producers) & Clouse, R. (Directo r) (1973) Enter the Dragon. Warner Bros., USA.

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182 1974 Hertzberg, M. (Producer). & Brooks, M. (Director). (1974). Blazing Saddles Warner Bros., USA. Cramer, J. (Producer) & Frank, T.C. (Direc tor). (1974) The Trial of Billy Jack. Billy Jack Entertainment, USA. 1975 Russell, K. (Producer & Director), (1975) Tommy Hemdale Film Co., UK 1978 Lombardo, L. (Producer). & Adle r, L. (Director). (1978). Up in Smoke Paramount Studios, USA. 1980 Brown, H. (Producer). & Chong, T. (D irector). (1980). Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie Universal Studios, USA. 1983 Bruckheimer, J. (Producer). & Lyne, A. (Director). (19843 ). Flashdance. Polygram Film Entertainment, USA. Bregman, M. (Producer). & DePalma, B. (Director). (1983). Scarface Universal Studios, USA. 1985 Broccoli, A. & Wilson M. (Producers). Glen, J. (Director). (1985). A View to a Kill Eon Productions, UK/USA. 1986 Weintraub, J. (Producer). & Avildsen, J. (Director). (1986). The Karate Kid II RCA/Columbia Pictures, USA. Feldman E. & Wachs, R. (Producers). & Rictchie, M. (Director). (1986). The Golden Child Paramount Studios, USA. 1987 Broccoli, A. & Wilson M. (Producers). & Glen J. (Director). (1987). The Living Daylights. Eon Productions, UK/USA. Kubrick, S. (Producer & Direct or). (1987). Full Metal Jacket Warner Bros., USA.

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183 1989 Broccoli, A. & Wilson M. (Producers). & Glen J. (Director). (1990). License to Kill Eon Productions, UK/USA. 1990 Costner, K & Wilson, J. (Producers) & Cost ner, K. (Director). (1990). Dances with Wolves MGM Studios, USA. 1992 Costner, K. & Wilson, J. (Producers & Jackson, M. (Direc tor). (1992). The Bodyguard Warner Bros., USA. Michaels, L. (Producer). & Spheeris, P. (Director) (1992). Wayne’s World Paramount Pictures, USA. 1993 Kaufman, P. (Producers). & Kaufman, P. (Director). (1993). Rising Sun 20th Century Fox Films, USA. 1994 Cohen, B. (Producer). & Levant, B. (Director). (1994). The Flintstones Amblin Entertainment, USA. Bender, L. (Producer) & Tarantino, Q. (Director). (1994). Pulp Fiction. A Band Apart Films/Miramax Films, USA. 1995 Pentecost, J. (Producer). Gabriel, M. & Goldberg, E. (D irectors). (1995). Pocahontas. Walt Disney Pictures, USA. 1997 Broccoli, B. & Wilson, M. (Producers). & Spottiswoode, R. (Director). (1997). Tomorrow Never Dies Eon Productions, USA/UK. 2000 Goldberg, L., Barrymore, D. & Juvonen, N. (Producers). & McG (Director). (2000). Charlie’s Angels. Columbia Pictures, USA. 2001 Sarkissian, A., Birnbaum, R., Stern. J. & G lickman, J. (Producers). & Ratner, B. (Director). (2001). Rush Hour 2. New Line Productions, USA. Moritz, N. (Producer). Cohen, R. (Director). (2001). The Fast and the Furious Universal Pictures, USA.

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184 2002 Lyons, J. & Myers, M. (Producers), & Roach, J. (Director). (2002). Austin Powers in Goldmember New Line Productions, USA. Broccoli, B. & Wilson, M. (Producers). & Tamahori, L. (Director). (2002). Die Another Day Eon Productions, USA/UK. 2003 Hoberman, D. & Amritraj, A. (Producer s). & Shankman, A. (Director). (2003). Bringing Down the House Touchstone Pictures, USA. 2005 Lassiter, J. (Producer). & Tennant, A. (Director). (2005). Hitch Columbia Pictures, USA.

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192 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Nadia A. Ramoutar was born in Ireland and attended high school there before coming to the United States to attend college. She initially completed her Associate of Arts degree at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, Florida. Following that she attended the University of Florida and comp leted a bachelor' s degree in p olitical dcience with a minor area of concentration in j ournalism and communications. She then completed a master's degree at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville, with a major area of concentration in polit ical science where she was a Fellowship recipient. This dissertation document reflects her comp letion of the Ph.D. program in mass communication at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Since 1999, she has been an instructor at Flagler Colleg e, St. Augustine, and was promot ed to the rank of Assistant Professor in Spring 2006.


Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0013821/00001

Material Information

Title: The color of love on the big screen: the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in Hollywood films from 1967-2005
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Ramoutar, Nadia A. ( Dissertant )
Kaid, Lynda Lee ( Thesis advisor )
Sarkio, Helena ( Reviewer )
Reid, Mark ( Reviewer )
Tripp, Bernell ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Mass Communication Thesis, Ph.D.
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Mass Communication
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract: What is the color of love on the big screen? It appears that Hollywood’s favorite color is still green, but race differences are used strategically in film. The purpose of this study is to explore the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in blockbuster Hollywood films from 1967 – 2005. Previous research indicates that women are portrayed in film as underrepresented, sexualized and insignificant in comparison to the portrayal of men in the same film. Although studies have been done on women in film, no extensive study has been done on interracial relationships in popular Hollywood film. The intent of this study was ambitiously to examine the role of sex, gender, and race as factors in the interaction between men and women in interracial relationships. The researcher also examined the changes of portrayal in the films under study over four decades. The study was conducted using framing analysis, a qualitative method and content analysis, a quantitative method. The findings of the framing analysis were used to create the categories of the content analysis. The sample of films studied included top 15 box office hits for each year from 1967 – 2005, which had an interracial sexual or physical relationship in the film. The final sample included only 36 films for study out of 540 possible films. The findings indicate that interracial relationships are rarely shown in popular films but when they are shown they are portrayed as problematic, conflicted and sexualized. An interracial relationship in the films under study was as likely to end with the man or woman dead, as with a commitment. Most interracial relationships involve a white man and an Asian woman. All women are stereotypically portrayed as young, socially vulnerable, over-sexualized and living in a violent world. The women are usually portrayed as supporting or minor characters. The interracial relationship is shown as usually being sexualized, short-lived and insignificant to the plot. There are trends of portrayal of different races in different decades. Some races are rarely portrayed, while other races are frequently shown. Gender is impacted by race in the portrayal in interracial relationships in films.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2006.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Vita.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains xiii, 192 p.
General Note: Title from title page of document.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0013821:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0013821/00001

Material Information

Title: The color of love on the big screen: the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in Hollywood films from 1967-2005
Physical Description: Mixed Material
Language: English
Creator: Ramoutar, Nadia A. ( Dissertant )
Kaid, Lynda Lee ( Thesis advisor )
Sarkio, Helena ( Reviewer )
Reid, Mark ( Reviewer )
Tripp, Bernell ( Reviewer )
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2006
Copyright Date: 2006

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: Mass Communication Thesis, Ph.D.
Dissertations, Academic -- UF -- Mass Communication
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract: What is the color of love on the big screen? It appears that Hollywood’s favorite color is still green, but race differences are used strategically in film. The purpose of this study is to explore the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in blockbuster Hollywood films from 1967 – 2005. Previous research indicates that women are portrayed in film as underrepresented, sexualized and insignificant in comparison to the portrayal of men in the same film. Although studies have been done on women in film, no extensive study has been done on interracial relationships in popular Hollywood film. The intent of this study was ambitiously to examine the role of sex, gender, and race as factors in the interaction between men and women in interracial relationships. The researcher also examined the changes of portrayal in the films under study over four decades. The study was conducted using framing analysis, a qualitative method and content analysis, a quantitative method. The findings of the framing analysis were used to create the categories of the content analysis. The sample of films studied included top 15 box office hits for each year from 1967 – 2005, which had an interracial sexual or physical relationship in the film. The final sample included only 36 films for study out of 540 possible films. The findings indicate that interracial relationships are rarely shown in popular films but when they are shown they are portrayed as problematic, conflicted and sexualized. An interracial relationship in the films under study was as likely to end with the man or woman dead, as with a commitment. Most interracial relationships involve a white man and an Asian woman. All women are stereotypically portrayed as young, socially vulnerable, over-sexualized and living in a violent world. The women are usually portrayed as supporting or minor characters. The interracial relationship is shown as usually being sexualized, short-lived and insignificant to the plot. There are trends of portrayal of different races in different decades. Some races are rarely portrayed, while other races are frequently shown. Gender is impacted by race in the portrayal in interracial relationships in films.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2006.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Vita.
General Note: Document formatted into pages; contains xiii, 192 p.
General Note: Title from title page of document.

Record Information

Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: UFE0013821:00001


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THE COLOR OF LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN:
THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD FILMS
IN INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS FROM 1967 TO 2005















By

NADIA A. RAMOUTAR


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2006


































Copyright 2006

By

Nadia A. Ramoutar




























To my parents, Chad Ramoutar and Gloria Jean Ramoutar
For your courage to love outside the color lines



To William, Dorothy, Jean, Helga, Eve and Aaron
for our journey to belonging



To my son, Devin and all our children,
May you be free to love as your heart desires.















ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The guidance, wisdom and insights of Dr. Lynda Lee Kaid have helped me in ways

beyond this mere document and research. Her vast experience as a researcher and

academic scholar were of incredible value to me as she generously guided me each step

of the way. Her promptness and compassion in everyday decision making and research

design supported me beyond compare. She is a role model for me in my career as

educator and researcher.

Another role model and brilliant women, Dr. Helena Sarkio, inspired and

encouraged me to make this research count. She was there for me at every turn,

prompting me to a standard of intelligence I could not have attempted alone, offering not

just her wisdom but also her exuberant friendship and support. She motivated me to delve

further into race and gender studies knowing all the while it mattered profoundly. I am

forever grateful to Helena for her guidance and encouragement.

I would also like to thank my other committee members, Dr. Mark Reid and Dr.

Bemell Tripp. As a scholar in Black Film, Dr. Reid's teaching and research gave me the

background and skills to question every frame of film I watched and every word of

dialogue I heard. He prompted me to expand the scope of my study in significant ways.

For her rigorous and knowledgeable role, Dr. Bernell Tripp moved me to question my

motives and my methods which resulted in better research designs. Her knowledge of

mass Media history gave me a strong foundation for my research. I also thank Danny

Shipka for his constant companionship in this program and undying support in my









research and well being. I would like to thank Monica Postelnicu and Hyun Yun for their

knowledge, assistance and friendship. Also, I thank Sherry Gilmore for her technical

support, encouragement and timely assistance.

This journey would not have been possible without my amazing support team at

Flagler College. I thank the Delphi Panel of Jim Gilmore, Jim Picket, Tracy Halcomb and

Danny Shipka for guidance and wisdom. I also want to thank the devoted students who

supported me and assisted with my research. I greatly appreciate the support from Dean

Paula Miller and Chair Tracy Halcomb and thank them for making the impossible

possible all the way from the application to the defense. No project as large is ever

possible without some very serious support teams at many levels. I would like to thank

the people who believed in me and encouraged me to complete this dissertation with such

dignity: Arlene Blain, Holley Hackett, Darragh Ramoutar, Elizabeth Claire, Rachel

Thompson, Laura Mongiovi, Joe Vlah and Dianne Tymmeson. I thank Kathe

O'Donnelly for her constant care and vigilance. I also thank Kenny Hamilton for his

infinite patience, humor and insights often at the toughest parts of the journey. I thank

Devin Reardon for making it all worthwhile. I could never have done this without all of

your support and love. I finally have to express a deep appreciation to the media scholars

who paved the way and inspired me to care and the students who are yet to arrive.















PREFACE

In writing this dissertation, which includes a qualitative and a quantitative research

method to explore and analyze the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film

from 1967 2005, it is important to establish my research interest and personal

relationship to the topic. In 1967, the year the study sample begins my mother was

pregnant with me. A tall, blonde, green-eyed woman in Dublin, Ireland, my mother was

married to a short dark Indian man from Trinidad. Such an ethnic blending in Ireland or

anywhere at that time (and some would argue even now) was unusual. After being raised

in Ireland, I immigrated to America with my parents as a teenager. Immediately upon

arriving here I experienced predictable culture shock but not for the reasons I expected.

I found the treatment of American women in society and in the media to be sexualized

and patronizing in a more extreme way than European women. The segregation of races

among Americans in society and the media was also very obvious to me. I had expected

to see many more blended-race people like myself but soon realized that American

homes and churches were profoundly segregated.

When I entered the Ph.D. program at the University of Florida I was 34-years-old

and a very different person than when I graduated from UF the first time at 21-years of

age. In a time of growing multiculturalism in the United States, race relations deserve a

closer look. In my specialty of race and gender studies in film I strive to make a

significant contribution to the voiceless: the women and men who dare to love or venture









outside the color line of love in America. My intent is to pave the way for future research

in a rarely valued realm.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS



A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S ............................................................................................... iv

P R E F A C E ............................................................................. ............... v i

LIST OF TABLES .................................. ................................. .......... .. xi

ABSTRACT ........ .............. ............. .. ...... .......... .......... xii

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

The Influence of Film Portrayals............................................................................ 4
Theoretical Perspectives .............................................. ....... .............................. 22
The Film Fem inist Paradigm .................................................... ...... ......... 22
Cultural Studies .......................................................... .......... 24
Social Construction of Reality Theory .... .......... .......................................26
Cultivation Theory................... .. ............... ........ ......30
Research Questions: ......................................... ......... .... 32

2 M E T H O D S ......................................................... ................ 34

Triangulation: Using A Quantitative Method And A Qualitative Method...............34
Multiple Methods as "Crystallization," Not Merely Triangulation...................37
F ra m in g an aly sis ...................... .......................................................................... 4 0
Creating the Framing Analysis............................. .............. ............... 43
D elphi P anel .......................................................................43
The Film s in the Sam ple........................................................... ............... 44
C oding Procedures........................................................ ....... ....47
Conducting the Framing Analysis.......................... ........... ............... 48

3 THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN
F IL M ..................................................................................................... 5 1

W om anhood in the Sam ple Film s.......................................... ......................... 51
The White Woman as Flawed and/or Fragile.....................................................51
The Portrayal of White Women with Hispanic Men................ ..................58
The Portrayal of White Women and Black Men..............................................62









W hite W om en as Insignificant ................................................... ......................68
All's "Fair" In Love and War: The Hierarchy of Skin Tone in the Portrayal
of W om en of Color ............... ................ ................................. ........ ......71
Dark Skinned, Dark Natured Femme Fatale .................... ..........................73
The Portrayal of Hispanic Women in Interracial Relationships: Late Comers..76
A m erindian W om en ........................................ ................. .................... 77
Asian Women in Interracial Relationships..................... ............... 78
Love You to Death: Interracial Relationships on the big screen exist in a
V violent and Conflicted W orld........................... ........ .................... ... 80
"Gender Benders": Women in Interracial Relationships Failure to be the
Traditional Fem ale. .................. .. ................... .. .......... .. .. ................85
The "Super-Model" Minority: Women of Color as Exotic, Erotic, and
Exceptional; Men of Color as the Perfect Gentleman ...................................90
M odel M minority M ales: The Perfect Gentlemen .............................................93
The Mary Magdalene Frame: Unworthy Women Who Distract Men from
th eir M mission in L ife.......... .................... .... ........ .. ...... ..................... 9 5
The White Male Fantasy: Skin, sex, subservience and Saving the Damsel in
D stress .............................................................................................. ..... 9 8

4 COMPARING AND CONTRASTING THE CONTENT ............. ... ...............112

C ontent A n aly sis ................................................................................... 112
Research Questions ............... ................ .......... .................... .......... 112
Identifying the Content Analysis Sam ple.................................. ............... 113
D efining the Coding Categories .................................................................... .113
Outlining the Coding Process, Training the Coders, and Calculating
R eliab ility .................................................. ................ 1 15
Implementing the Coding Process .............. ..............................................116
F findings ......................................................................................................... 116
R e su lts ...................1...................1...................7..........
Age and Gender ..................................... ............ .. .. ...... ................ 117
R ole of the W om an in the Film .................................... .................................. 118
The Portrayal of Race and Gender ........................................ ...............119
Gender Attributes of Women and Men .......................................................121
O ccupations and Skills of the W om en .............................................................123
Perception of the Women in Interracial Relationships.................................... 126

5 REFLECTIONS ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF INTERRACIAL SEX OR
LO V E ON TH E BIG SCREEN .................................................................... ...... 137

Implications of the Film Study Research.......................................... .................137
Contributions and Relevance to Theory ....................................... ............... 140
The Film Feminist Paradigm ................. .......... ....................140
Cultural Studies ...... .................. ........ .........141
Social Construction of Reality Theory .................................... .......... ........ 142
C ultivation T heory ............ ... .................................................. .. .... ...... .. 143









Directions for Future Research and Limitations of the Study ............................... 143
Conclusion ..................................... ................................. ......... 148

APPENDIX

A CONTENT ANALYSIS CODING SHEET............................................................157

B MOVIES FROM 1967 2005 IN TOP 15 BOX OFFICE SALESWITH AN
INTERRACIAL ROMANTIC OR SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP ..........................181

REFERENCES .......................... ......... .... ......... ............. 185

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................................ ...............192
















LIST OF TABLES

Table page

1 Frequency of Race by Gender.......................... ............ .................. 119

2 Skills W om en E exhibit ................................................. ............................... 125

3 Ultimate Values of Men and Women................. ................... ..............127

4 Challenges Facing the Interracial Relationship Couple................................131

5 Decision-M aker in the Relationship Outcome................................................... 132

6 Outcome of the Interracial Relationship ............. .................. ..... ..............133















Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

THE COLOR OF LOVE ON THE BIG SCREEN:
THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN HOLLYWOOD FILMS
IN INTERACIAL RELATIONSHIPS FROM 1967 TO 2005.

By

Nadia A. Ramoutar

May 2006

Chair: Lynda Lee Kaid
Major Department: Mass Communication

What is the color of love on the big screen? It appears that Hollywood's favorite

color is still green, but race differences are used strategically in film. The purpose of this

study is to explore the portrayal of women in interracial relationships in blockbuster

Hollywood films from 1967 2005. Previous research indicates that women are

portrayed in film as underrepresented, sexualized and insignificant in comparison to the

portrayal of men in the same film. Although studies have been done on women in film,

no extensive study has been done on interracial relationships in popular Hollywood film.

The intent of this study was ambitiously to examine the role of sex, gender, and race as

factors in the interaction between men and women in interracial relationships. The

researcher also examined the changes of portrayal in the films under study over four

decades. The study was conducted using framing analysis, a qualitative method and

content analysis, a quantitative method. The findings of the framing analysis were used

to create the categories of the content analysis. The sample of films studied included top









15 box office hits for each year from 1967 2005, which had an interracial sexual or

physical relationship in the film. The final sample included only 36 films for study out of

540 possible films. The findings indicate that interracial relationships are rarely shown in

popular films but when they are shown they are portrayed as problematic, conflicted and

sexualized. An interracial relationship in the films under study was as likely to end with

the man or woman dead, as with a commitment. Most interracial relationships involve a

white man and an Asian woman. All women are stereotypically portrayed as young,

socially vulnerable, over-sexualized and living in a violent world. The women are

usually portrayed as supporting or minor characters. The interracial relationship is shown

as usually being sexualized, short-lived and insignificant to the plot. There are trends of

portrayal of different races in different decades. Some races are rarely portrayed, while

other races are frequently shown. Gender is impacted by race in the portrayal in

interracial relationships in films.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Examining the mass media portrayal of women in interracial relationships as

represented in commercially successful film marks the gender and racial differences of

social constructs of power structures. Studying the way Caucasian women are portrayed

in interracial romantic and/or sexual relationships compared to the way Women of Color

are portrayed creates an opportunity to explore the color code of love in a mass medium

and, therefore, public sphere. The study also seeks to compare the way Caucasian men

and Men of Color are portrayed in the films under study compared to the way the women

are portrayed. By studying the way race interaction in sexual and romantic relationships

are portrayed we attain a greater insight into America social understanding of race and

gender as constructs interdependently.

There have been many studies done on issues of race and on issues of gender in

film, but very few studies if any, look at the interaction of race and gender through the

lens or romantic or sexual relationships. In this study, therefore, the film industry's

portrayal of ethnicity and gender over time from 1977 to 2005 is explored through that

lens of the interracial relationship and its portrayal of women. The primary goal of this

research is to raise awareness of the limited and problematic nature of Hollywood's

portrayal of women in interracial relationships that may reinforce myths about gender,

race, ethnicity, and sexuality. This research also suggests that racial, ethnic, gender, and

sexual identity in American mainstream film cannot be studied without considering each

category's interdependence and influence on each other. It also examines the concept that









there is no "woman's" experience to be portrayed in film, as issues of race and sex

clearly impact that portrayal on the big screen.

Thus, an objective of this research is to discover and contrast constructs of

womanhood according to race and gender created by Hollywood films in interracial

relationships. Are relationships portrayed as important to these women? Are women of

color and white women portrayed the same way in interracial relationships? What impact

does the racial or ethnic identity of the male or female have on the portrayal of the

relationship? Have these portrayals changed since the U.S. Supreme court deemed anti-

miscegenation laws unconstitutional in 1967? Created in a white male dominated

industry, do women in the films under study appear to have control over their life or their

relationship? This research addresses a concern of film feminism which recognizes that

race and ethnicity are important factors in the portrayal of women in film that have been

traditionally ignored in academic and commercial facets.

The research also explores the portrayal of women in sexual or romantic

relationships with the understanding that social and political values are constructs of

"reality" and that certain behaviors are "normalized". Audience members often look to

the mass media to define what is important and what is to be desired or even avoided.

Although most people know that the primary purpose of the film industry is to entertain,

it is also intended to do so in a profitable way. One of the ways in which Hollywood

entertains is to offer a mythical version of reality that excites; intrigues and sometimes

exploits the audience. There are many myths that media creates about life, who to love

and how to love them. This research scrutinizes the overt and covert ways in which

cultural transmission around segregation in normal love operates and is portrayed in the









media. The portrayal of interracial relationships is uncommon in American mass media.

The portrayal of women in interracial relationships that are healthy and well-balanced is

almost non-existent.

It is impossible to study this portrayal without considering the history of race and

gender issues in America which rather than a harmonious melting pot, have been

problematic. Since its birth, the United States has been an enormous blend of people

from a variety of racial backgrounds. This research seeks to understand why some

genders and races are portrayed as more favorable than others and how the interaction of

people from unlike races is portrayed within heterosexual relationships in film. The

culmination of generations of oppression in the United States history involved significant

Civil Right's and Women's Movement efforts in the 1960s and 1970s. Although these

efforts did improve the experience of women and people of color in this country, issues

of equity still linger. This study explores if the mass media portray genders and people of

color as equitable in the decades following the Civil Right's and Women's Movement in

America. Would choosing a romantic or sexual partner outside of her racial group place

a women in a higher or lower position or status in society on the big screen? The second-

wave feminist movement has been heavily criticized for addressing the "women's"

experience as universal.

This research breaks down the portrayal of women of different racial categories and

compares and contrasts their portrayal in popular film. The research ambitiously seeks to

use two research methods and extensive variables of gender, race, and sexuality which

creates a unique opportunity to see that a woman in a relationship is impacted not only by

her race but by the race of the partner with which she is affiliated. There is a hierarchy









in gender and in race that can be identified only after carefully and systematically

breaking down the portrayal of women in film into great detail and analyzing its meaning

for a much greater impact.

The Influence of Film Portrayals

Popular film does more than entertain. Hollywood films also serve as a powerful

means to transmit culture from one generation to the next in a society. Film is a powerful

medium and is one of the top three exports from the United States to the rest of the world

(Kamalipour, 2006). Characterization in film is "a useful like of inquiry into media

messages. Characters can be considered the embodiments of ideological positions based

upon whose interests they represent". (Silverblatt & Zlobin, 2004, p. 85). Much research

has been done to show that Hollywood and the creation of popular film is a white man's

world where Caucasian men are clearly at the top of the power structure (Eschholz et al.,

2002, Grinner, 2004). American films are created in this distribution of power, within a

capitalistic system that is competitive and profit-driven (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 301).

The current media ownership trend in the world is one of a transnational corporation

which creates an oligopoly. Cultural imperialism exists not merely between nations but

between ethnic groups within a nation and globally (Kamalipour, 2006; Kellner, 2003).

Society operates on a social order and this order is maintained through formula

narrative films (Grinner, 2004). Unless people have personal contact with people of

another ethnicity or race or culture, our views are colored by national stereotypes

depicted in the media (Silverblatt & Zlbin, 2004). The film industry did not always

reflect such a homogenized portrayal of society nor was the film industry dominated by

white males originally. The film industry in America originally involved many significant

women and minorities as directors, writers, and producers (Slide, 1998, p. vii). It is no









secret that Hollywood is still one of the most powerfully white male dominated industries

in America and American film dominates in a global media economy (Slide, 1998;

Eschholz et al., 2002; Kaplan, 1987). Most research of film feminist scholars conducted

since the 1970s indicates that women in film history have been mostly defined through

male definition. Women and people of color are habitually portrayed through the lens by

men who have never experienced the reality of a woman or a person of color. Do women

of any color and men of color receive more than a stereotypical portrayal in such a media

economy? This study explores that very question.

Hollywood and the creation of popular film has evolved over the years into an

industry that treats the creation of film like any other commodity that can be sold or

exported (Kamalipour, 2006). This was not always the case. The early film making days

included many white women in directing and producing roles and story lines presented

women as multifaceted members of society. When the studio system began in

Hollywood in 1911, women began to lose power and the studio system systematically

moved to a formulaic approach to film making which still exists today (Campbell et al.,

2006). Some women who made it into history books usually did so because of her on

screen presence, while some with technical or leadership skills of other women were

overlooked and written out and simply put, "in the 1920s women were left behind

because they weren't wanted" (Slide, 1998, p. 163).

Despite the success of a few female directors and producers, the Hollywood set

remains a segregated and heavily guarded elite group limited by gender, class and race.

Digital technology may offer some hope for newcomers entering the film arena, but the

mass media dominance of specific media corporate giants produces an oligopoly in









distribution that creates a "blockbuster" formula approach to mass movie scripts

(Campbell et al., 2005). If American corporate filmmaking serves as the Nation's

"storyteller" it also serves to reinforce and distinguish between what is normal and

abnormal, desired and undesired and what is morally "the boundary between what is

permitted and the forbidden" (Campbell et al., 2005, p. 230). In the portrayal of

interracial relationships in popular film is the "forbidden fruit" of a romantic or sexual

partner from another race used as a ploy to increase conflict and sexual intrigue on the

big screen? Has such a portrayal changed over four decades to reflect social progress in

society's integration?

Why study interracial relationships in mass media portrayal? The study of mass

media portrayal reflects the values and power structure of the society in which it is

generated and distributed. In White, film scholar Richard Dyer (1988) points out that:

"Power in contemporary society habitually passes itself off as embodied in the normal as

opposed to the superior. This is common to all forms of power, but it works in a

peculiarly seductive way with whiteness, because of the way it seems rooted, in

commonsense thought, in things other than ethic difference" (p. 44). The other reason

to examine interracial relationships is that it makes it possible to study the phenomena of

"whiteness" as being everything and nothing at the same time. In comparison, in Black

Film as a Signifying Practice, Gladstone L. Yearwood (2000) says: "For many people

... blackness is less a color than a metaphor for political circumstances prescribed

by struggles against economic exploitation and cultural domination: a state of

consciousness that peoples of various pigmentations have experienced, empathized with,

and responded to" (p.5). When it comes to race, gender and sexuality, power is a very









important aspect to study in the portrayal of women in interracial relationship. Sex is

often used to show who has power and who does not in the narrative film. The person

with the sexual appeal is more powerful than the person without sexual appeal. The

person who selects the woman with sexual appeal shows his or her power over the

situation. Who controls the power in the relationship and the outcome of the relationship

is heavily scrutinized in this study. By studying the portrayal of power and positive or

negative traits of the interracial relationship we are able to go beyond the surface of the

meaning and take a closer reading of what the narrative is saying about interracial

relationships.

Merely looking at a popular film does not always make messages about politically

sensitive subjects, like race or gender equity, clear but rather blurs it. Blurring the

significance of race and gender is a Hollywood special effect that disguises where the

true power lies. Making sure that racial and gender inequality are kept "secret" seems to

be a major motivator in mainstream American film (Haskell, 1987). According to Molly

Haskell (1987) in From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies,

keeping this secret is key to social order: "The big lie perpetrated on Western society is

the idea of women's inferiority, a lie so deeply ingrained in our social behavior that

merely to recognize it is to risk unraveling the entire fabrication of civilization" (p. 1).

Society reflects a social order and the media are often used to reinforce those social

values or beliefs so that examining a narrative plot can "furnish insight into the cultural

sensibility of a culture" (Silverblatt & Zlobin, 2004). Such a portrayal is often subtle as

the hegemony in a democracy does not force members of a society to comply by brute

force. Its power on the behavior of members is much more subtle and often so









normalized that it is invisible to the average viewer. As Holtzman (2000) points out, most

people operate as if what is normal or "natural cannot be controlled socially...If we are

convinced that something is natural we are also more likely to believe that it is legitimate,

permanent and unchangeable" (p. 300). The film industry like most other oligopolies,

does not force Western Society to accept its reality. Holtzman further explains that the

power in society is reinforced rather than forced:

Hegemony, as you may recall, allows those in power to rule by consent rather than
force.. Entertainment media, along with religion and education, is one of the
institutions that reinforces our sense of what is considered normal. This
"normalcy" typically reflects the beliefs or ideology of the dominant culture.
(Holtzman, 2000, p. 300)

Holtzman's points are very significant in this study because women exist in a social

structure in which they participate without force. Women who appear "sexualized" often

self-elect to appear this way because they, too, believe it is normal. John Berger (1977)

in Ways of Seeing makes the point that if the sexualization of a woman, for example, if a

nude image were replaced with a man we would clearly notice "the violence which the

transformation" had created (p. 64). The sexualization of women as objects in our

society is so normalized in our mass media that it is hard for viewers to identify the

violence Berger describes. This study explores the role of violence in the portrayal of

women in the films under study. Examples of film violence are often presented in the

narrative as so common or normal to the experience of being a woman that they almost

go unnoticed. This study uses quantitative and qualitative methods to explore how

prevalent violence is in a film world of interracial relationships. Are interracial

relationships portrayed as existing in a violent world?

Film is a powerful medium and socialization tool in American culture for several

reasons and is considered the major art form of these times. Film allows us to see that









hegemonic social order is maintained as Hollywood movies follow a formula which uses

the "order, disorder, and restoration of order" formula of the narrative film (Grinner,

2004, p.199). Linda Holtzman (2000) concludes: "the study of entertainment media and

race is complex... Still further there is complexity within each racial group" (p. 209). The

proposed research seeks to explore this complexity. Issues of race and gender provide a

challenge to research because this "complexity" indicates that much of what is first seen

is not necessarily reflective of what exists below the surface. It is as if sexism and racism

in Western society are veiled in secrecy or even denial, especially from those creating

and enforcing the limitations. In White Privilege: The Invisible Knapsack, Peggy

McIntosh points out that "whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as

males are taught not to recognize male privilege" (1990, p. 31). Exposing the oblivious

nature of white/male advantage in society creates the goal of raising our consciousness

"to seek to reconstruct power systems on a broader base currently very narrow"

(McIntosh, 1990, p. 32).

According to Holtzman (2000), racism is so covertly portrayed that it is often hard

for people in America to identify it compared to the overt Jim Crow laws of the past.

Viewing older films in which the minstrel faced black person is mocked and vilified by

white film makers like in Birth of a Nation makes identifying negative portrayal blatant

and almost impossible to miss for audiences now. But the portrayal in popular films now

does not offer such a racial signpost as the minstrel faced black person, though when

closely examined other key signposts about racial order do exist. Why should this

matter? Today, the media have "assumed a vital role in the transmission of cultural

myths" (Silverblatt & Zlobin, 2004, p. 67). Media misinformation about race impacts









people of color and white people in different ways. White people in the United States are

socialized to see their race not simply as dominant, but as the norm, the standard for

behavior, and the benchmark for what it means to be American (Denzin, 2002).

According to Norman Denzin (2002) in Reading Race, "A majority of Americans

know and understand the American racial order through the mass media. Accordingly,

those who control the media, including cinema and television, shape and define a

society's discourse about race and race relations" (p.2). Interracial relationships in

American culture are uncommon compared to same-race relationships but also address

issues of power in the "conflicted sexual political arena of desire" (Lester et al., 2005,

p.137). The study of women in interracial relationships is often studied only in its

context to men in interracial relationships. For example, according to Gail Dines (2003)

in King Kong and the White Woman: Hustler Magazine and the Demonization of Black

Masculinity, "from the box offices success of Birth of a Nation in 1915 to the National

obsession with O.J. Simpson, the image of the Black man as the spoiler of White

womanhood has been a staple of media representation in this country" (p. 451).

Another interesting aspect of studying the portrayal of women in interracial

relationships in film is that the racial profile of male and female change the perception of

the relationship. For example, the portrayal of the white-female, black-male coupling and

the portrayal of white-female and Asian-male are seen as a threat to patriarchy, while the

portrayal of Asian-female and white-male is portrayed in a positive way in Western

media (Sun, 2003, p. 657). According to Chyng Feng Sun (2003), "the pairing of a

white male and Oriental female is naturalized and has its colonialist root, manifested in

the 'rescue' narrative. In films with non-white women it becomes apparent that the role









of colonization and "the West's dominance is secured through narratives of romance and

sexuality that justify white man's possession of the bodies of women of color" (p. 6). In

the portrayal of women in film, in issues of sexuality, race, and ethnicity, are all women

created equally? This study explores how race is used as a variable in the portrayal of

gender in popular film.

It is impossible to study the media of a culture without considering the historical

impact of the culture in which the media product is created or consumed. According to

cultural critic Toni Cade Bambara (1996), a history of colonization plays a major role in

race and gender politics in American media:

The creative imagination has been colonized. The global screen has been colonized
and the audience readers and viewers is in bondage to an industry. It has the
money, the will, the muscle, and the propaganda machine oiled up to keep us all
locked up in a delusional system as even what America is. (Bambara. 1996, p.
140)

The study of race and gender, which focuses on the portrayal of women, is

significant and contributes to the field of mass communication research as it is also an

exploration of political and social power. According to Croteau and Hoynes (1997),

"Historically, the U.S. media have taken 'whites" to be the norm against which all racial

groups are measured... The absence of the racial signifier in this country usually signifies

whiteness. The pervasiveness of white perspectives in media is perhaps its most powerful

characteristic" (p. 24).

The movie industry offers a socialized version of not only the norm, but the ideal.

According to media scholar Marshall McLuhan (1964), "The movie is not only a supreme

expression of mechanism, but paradoxically it offers as product the most magical of

consumer commodities, namely dreams" (p. 32). In addition to being a very powerful

economic force in mass media, the film industry has become "America's storyteller"









meaning that Hollywood has long served as "contemporary mythmakers... at their best

they tell communal stories that evoke and symbolize our most enduring values and our

secret desires" (Campbell et al., 2005, p. 229). This study questions the role of race,

gender, and sexuality in perpetuating the myths of the past by examining almost four

decades of film.

Since the early days of the Hollywood studio system women and minorities have

contributed to filmmaking (Slide, 1998, p. 38) but such an inclusive film industry does

not operate in the Western world anymore. The secret desires of modern movie goers are

constructed by the powerful Big Five Paramount, MGM, Warner Brothers, Twentieth

Century Fox, and RKO along with the Little Three of Columbia, Universal, and United

Artists (Campbell et al., 238). Commercial film, like most entertainment media is

dependent on conflict for intrigue and box office sales. The use of gender, race, and/or

ethnicity is used as a narrative device effectively to create conflict in film and this

technique, in a visual medium like film, is as old as the medium itself. According to film

scholar Cameron Bailey (1998) in "Nigger/Love: The Thin Sheen of Race",

Since the cavalry rode manfully across the cross cutting to save Lillian Gish from
blackness in Birth of a Nation, since Barbara Apollonia Chalupiec became Pola
Negri and took up a position as Hollywood's resident Other, black sexuality,
indeed anything other than white sexuality, has been both a potent threat and a
powerful attraction in American film. Adopting a centuries old signification
system, Hollywood from its beginnings linked racial difference to sexual danger,
Danger, we saw, lurked in a capital-O Other: sexual transgression became
Hollywood's darkest din, and its surest box-office draw. (Bailey, 1998, p. 28)

The study of these films with an interracial relationship show that Hollywood is

still using women's experiences and race as a sexual transgression and box office draw.

Despite the ideal that race relations in America have been healed since the Civil

Right's Era and integration is openly occurring, the U.S. Census taken in 2000 indicates









that only 2 percent of American marriages are interracial reflecting that each partner is of

a different ethnic or racial group (U.S. Census 2000). This extremely low statistic shows

that in America love follows specific and narrow color lines. Although the U.S. Supreme

court ruled in Loving V. Virginia in 1967 that States prohibiting interracial marriage was

unconstitutional (Romano, 2003, p. 188), the Census indicates that segregation still exists

in American households. The study of racial and/or ethnic stereotypes in film offers

insights into the attitudes and stereotypes that contribute to this on-going segregation,

"preventing people from finding love as they wish" (Moran, 2001, p. 37).

Since the early days of American film, when D. W. Griffith directed the American

Epic Birth of a Nation, the social fear of interracial interaction has been portrayed to the

masses as "dangerous" (Kaplan, 1997, p. 66; hooks, 1992, p. 311). In feminism, film

feminism, media studies, and film studies it becomes clear that American film has an

agenda: "Ostensibly, American movies have been dedicated to the reinforcement of

middle-class morality and have done their share to strengthen capitalism, chauvinism,

racism, sexism, and so on" (O'Connor & Jackson, 1979, p. xii).

Frequently, when non-white people are portrayed in film, they are there as

performers. Bailey (1998) points out that black culture becomes "entirely performative,

resulting in images that make the black body the performing body, a body offered to a

consuming, and largely unquestioning public" (p. 40). This study explores the portrayal

of women as performers and entertainers.

The concept of the "other" as erotic is frequently used in film to create tension.

Bailey points out that in film "Never far behind this black as exotic stereotype is the

implication that the black is more primitive or animal-like. The predominant physical









stereotypes of blacks, the stereotype that holds currency in North American film -

bulging eyes, thick lips, wide noses, enlarged sexual organs turn the black into a

rampaging figure of excess sensuality" (p. 32).

The struggle over race, gender, and sexuality continues to play out on the big

screen even today. The assumption is made that film is one of the oldest forms of Mass

Media in Western society and remains one of the most powerful. Mainstream

Hollywood film is also a wealthy white man's industry that promotes and protects a

hegemonic social order which places the portrayal of women, both Caucasian and women

of color, frequently in stereotypical and limited frames. Because the scope of film is so

broad and women can be seen in almost any film, research concentrated on the portrayal

of women in the top fifteen box office films annually from 1967 2005 with a current

interracial romantic or sexual heterosexual relationship only. The framing analysis of

females in interracial relationships in film is an innovative addition to the growing

dialogue about gender, race, and media. This research was then used to create the

categories for a content analysis study of the same sample of films. To obtain the most

valid and reliable results this study utilized both a qualitative and quantitative research

method.

Much work has been done on the portrayal of women in film and the portrayal of

women as objects rather than as subjects. Media Scholar Laura Mulvey (1975)

established in "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" that women are constructed in

film and other media images for the male "spectator's gaze" (p. 7). The implication of

Mulvey's research finding of"The Gaze is Male" contributed greatly to film study since

its appearance in Screen in 1975. The greater implication being that "the Hollywood text









is gendered and male by virtue not only of the dominant forms of visual pleasure -

voyeurism and fetishism, traditionally analyzed as male perversions but also by the

close formal convergence of narrative progress ..." (Elsaesser, 2002, p. 253).

The concept of the male gaze is not new to film but finds its root in the early days

of commercial images in the Art world. In Ways of Seeing, (1977) John Berger makes

the important distinction that:

Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being
looked at. This determines not only most relations between men and women but
also the relation of women to themselves. The surveyed female. Thus she turns
herself into an object and most particularly an object of vision: a sight. (Berger,
1977, p. 47)

The importance of Berger's distinction in the greater concept of Gramsci's

Hegemony is that women are thereby not merely subjected to the "male gaze" but are so

conditioned in a male power structure to actually objectify themselves willingly. Berger

builds an argument that women are depicted in a different way from men because the

ideal spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of the women is designed to

flatter him (p. 64). This study explores the role of women in the portrayal of importance

in film and examines if women are portrayed in equally significant roles as men and if

women are viable and important players in the plot of storyline. This is measured by

examining the role of the female character as leading, supporting, or minor in the film

under study.

There has been much study done in academia to examine the portrayal of women in

the past but such studies have been limited. When many media scholars were establishing

film feminism the focus, which has since been heavily criticized, was of white women

and generalized to describe the experience of all women. Clearly, this is not the case.

This study explores if women of color are treated the same on the big screen as their









white counterparts. According to media scholar, bell hooks (1992), "there is power in

looking" (p. 10). In order to consider the portrayal of women in film we must consider

the significance of each race and ethnic group's history and social standing in America.

The framing analysis and content analysis in this study both explore and define the

sameness and difference each racial group receives in the portrayal of women in

relationships with men of another racial group. Is the portrayal the same for a white man

to be in a relationship with an Asian woman as it is when a white man is involved with a

black woman? Do certain frames emerge within racial portrayal of women that do not

apply to other women?

To consider the term "male gaze" as significant one must first address the concept

of male and female as constructs of gender under the theory of Social Construction of

Reality that will be discussed in more detail later. Although some people use the terms

"gender" and "sex" interchangeably, the terms have distinctly different meanings (Wood,

2003, p. 19). Sex is a designation based on biological factors, whereas gender is socially

and psychologically constructed (Wood, 2003, p. 18). Gender therefore, is a much more

complex and dynamic concept than sex. Biology influences behavior, but culture

determines how gender is valued. According to Teresa de Lauretis in Technologies of

Gender (1987), "The term gender is actually, the representation of a relation, that of

belonging to a class, a group, a category" (p. 4). She says that gender is used to create

"the cultural conception of male and female as two complementary yet mutually

exclusive categories into which all human beings are placed constitute within each

culture a gender system, a symbolic system or system of meaning that correlates sex to

cultural contents according to social values and hierarchy" (p. 5).









Hollywood not only systematically stereotypes women, but films exaggerate

stereotypes of women in general (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 299), and females in each race

also seem to be stereotyped further. In an extensive content analysis study of the top 50

films of 1996, it was reported that stereotypes of women and minority films still exist in

popular film (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 299). This study considered the portrayals of

women significant as they "are important factors in the social construction of reality

among the general public and therefore may perpetuate racism and sexism on a larger

scale" (p. 299). Findings for this study and other film studies suggest that females are

still underrepresented in popular film. Women not only appear in films less frequently

than men, but are also relegated to less important roles like supporting or minor roles

(Media Report, 2003). Other findings about race and gender include that Caucasian

females tend to be portrayed as more feminine than African-American females. The

displayed traits for traditional male and female gender were examined in this study to test

the previous finding and to see if it has changed over the past 38 years. In previous

studies, African-American females were shown as traditional stereotypes of the

"Mammy" or "Jezebel." Other minorities were rarely shown in any leading roles

(Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 322). The study concluded that Hollywood films "represent a

traditional social construction of the world where capitalism, patriarchy, and hegemonic

masculinity are all represented by the norm and the ideal" (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 322).

Film has and continues to be a "powerful site for the production, transformation, and

maintenance of traditional cultural notions of identity" (Berland & Wechter, 1992, P. 35)

After completing a systematic study of top grossing films from 1946 1994,

Stephen Powers, David Rothman, and Stanley Rothman published their findings in









Hollywood's America: Social and political Themes in Motion Pictures. This study

involved a sample of 146 top-grossing films over a 44-year period. Gender and race were

factors used in this study. Romance was found to be a leading motivational factor for

women in these films. The role of sexuality in film changes after 1968 when the new

rating system replaces the Hays Code (Powers, 1996, p. 162). Powers (1996) found that

the portrayal of women was found to be more "positively" than that of men, but race was

not indicated as a factor in this finding (p. 164).

Since the 1970s, women have been portrayed as more violent and self-involved

than in previous eras. The study concluded that women continue to be underrepresented

in films (one woman to every three men on average). Representation of women over

time has changed and these trends indicate "the traditional myths surrounding them -

their civility, maternal instinct, and devotion to family-have declined precipitously in

influence" (Rothman & Powers, 1996, p. 170). Romance on the big screen has also

undergone change over the years: In romantic situations, most of the attractive qualities

of domestic life have been replaced by scenarios that make human existence seem that

much more lonely, unpleasant, and dangerous for men and women alike (p. 170). The

importance of romance and its significance to the portrayal of women and men in

interracial relationships is explored as a value in this research.

The study also examines the previous research, which indicates that women in film

are being portrayed as more violent since the removal of Hollywood production codes

(Rothman & Powers, 1986, p. 166). The use of sex and violence in film, however, is not

new and has been capitalized on since the days of the early Nickelodeon theatres

(Campbell et al., 2005, p. 124). Since the lifting of the Hays Code in film in 1968, film









has portrayed a more violent world, but how is the portrayal of women in interracial

relationships impacted by this trend? The study looks to see if women are victims of

violence or if they actually initiate violence. Are women of certain races shown as prone

to violence more than others? Media scholar bell hooks writes in We Real Cool that

violence in America is being portrayed in media so frequently that it "is the norm".

Much research has been done in examining the difference between black and white men

using violence in film, but little has been done to examine the role of violence as

"naturalized" in women when race is a factor. In addition, hooks points out that "sexism

in black communities, though intense, is so common that no one takes violence against

females seriously"(2004, p. 63). The study seeks to examine if women are significantly

portrayed as victims of violence, which is a variable that makes them socially vulnerable

The portrayal of women as sexualized is another important aspect in the

exploration of this study. Previous research indicates that women are often sexualized in

American media and also portrayed as being very interested in sex (Wood, 2006, p.

p.254). A study of sexual imagery of black women in contemporary American films by

black and white filmmakers, revealed that popular film tends to portray black women as

outnumbering the males as initiators of the sex act (Manatu-Rupert, 1998, p. 100).

Findings in the study showed that women were also uninterested in romance or in the

man as a person, but only interested in him sexually. The implication of this portrayal is

that black women are morally flawed in the hegemonic social structure. In addition, the

women were shown to be frequently angry and hostile towards the men despite their

sexual interest in them. The content analysis and framing analysis asks the research

question if women in interracial relationships are portrayed as sexualized, initiators of sex









and motivated by sex and/or romance. It also examines how the women are dressed as an

important aspect of how they are portrayed in the film.

The role of conflict is an important variable in the study of the portrayal of women

in interracial relationships. In a qualitative content analysis study of 150 popular films,

gendered conflicts in male/female relationships were measured in detail (Hedley, 2003).

The films under study consisted of the top 10-box office hits from 1986 2000. The

study of gendered conflict was used to apply to a greater social system considered to be

related to 'have more to do with systemic stereotypes and hegemonic ideology than with

empirical reality" (Hedley, 2003, p. 202). The findings indicate that "the Gendered point

of view across these films demonstrates an overwhelming preference for men's

perspective" and that women were found to be "more constrained by their stereotypes"

(p. 201). Hedley found that often the women portrayed in the film are not "in control of

her romantic/sexual future. He will make it happen. She will wait for it to happen to her"

(Hedley, 2002, p. 225). This finding is explored in this study to see if women in

interracial relationships are portrayed as "in control" of their romantic or sexual futures.

A major content analysis study was conducted in interracial relationships but

focused on pornographic rather than Hollywood films. In a study of 54 films, Black-

white, Asian-white and Hispanic-white pornography was examined. The findings

indicated that in pornography, "the implicit messages about race are inextricably

intertwined with those about sex" (Cowan et al., 1994, p. 335). In this study, findings

indicate that race is used to exaggerate sex roles. The study states "pornography is not

racially or ethnically neutral" (p. 337). Black females were treated significantly

differently in pornographic interracial relationships than Caucasian women. The authors









propose that this discrepancy has a historic root in American culture. Black women were

historically, and are often still, portrayed either as the "mammy" figure or the

"Jezebel/whore" sexual deviant (Kaplan, 1997, p. 301; Modelski, 1991, p. 330). White

women are usually shown as "feminized through pathos" as "girl-victims, mothers,

bitches, vamps/sluts, gold-diggers" and "dependent on heterosexual relationships to be

fulfilled" (Haskell, 1987, p. 10; Grinner, 2003, p. 199). This research explores these

stereotypes and seeks to determine if the race and/or ethnicity of the woman's partner

affects her portrayal and if race is used to exaggerate gender roles.

According to Neal A. Lester and Maureen Daly Goggin in In Living Color: Politics

of Desire in Heterosexual Interracial Black/White Personal Ads the study of interracial

relationships offer significant insights into constructs of race and gender:

In same-race relationships, power tends to be figured along gender lines; in
interracial relations, power seems to be figured first along race and secondarily
along gender lines. Desiring interracial coupling requires disrupting racialized and
gendered power structures. (Lester & Groggin, 2005, P. 130)


Few mainstream film studies explore the role of gender, sexuality, race, and/or

ethnicity in the female experience as interrelated, especially in interracial relationship.

This dissertation seeks to fill the need in this area of mass communication research. The

absence of women of color in mass communication research or in mass media portrayal

addresses a larger concern. According to Holtzman (2000), the story of women of color

is absent from pages of American history. Media scholar hooks shares this concern in

several of her writings. She states that the absence of black women in film makes a

statement in itself: "There was clearly no place for black women" (Hooks, 1992, P. 311).

Feminist film scholar E. Ann Kaplan actually released another edition of her book on

Film Lookingfor the Other in response to the frustration of black feminist like hooks









about the "cinematic negation" of women of color in early film feminism (Kaplan, 1987,

p. xi). This research seeks to add significant findings to this dialogue for greater

understanding and representation in racial and/or ethnicity portrayal of women in mass

media. The lack of women of color in portrayal in blockbuster film and the lack of

research about women of color in film is indicative of a greater issue of importance.

This research explores if women of color in inter-racial relationships in the films

are portrayed differently from the way women in same race relationships are portrayed.

Research reflects that most research of the portrayal of women in heterosexual

relationships in film rarely considers aspects of same race and/or ethnicity of their male

partners as a factor. Further research on women in interracial relationships in film is

needed. In Images that Injure: Pictorial Stereotypes in the Media, article authors

Julianne H. Newton and Rick Williams make a passionate call for things to change:

This is a call to humanity to strip away the false media types and stereotypes that
constrict our rights to define our own identities based on our individual, interwoven
expressions of the masculine and feminine archetypes. Our goal is psychological
and physical freedom. (Newton & Williams, 1999, p. 220)

The primary goal of this research, using both a quantitative and qualitative mass

media research method, is to answer this call to end the constriction of our identities and

seeks to provide greater insight into current and historic trends in the freedom of women

in film to be portrayed psychologically and physically free.

Theoretical Perspectives

The Film Feminist Paradigm

There is no one experience of "being a woman," and thereby the feminist paradigm

is complex and diverse. As Liesbet Van Zoonen in Feminist Media Studies (2003) and

other feminist scholars maintain "feminism nowadays is not easily delineated or defined"









(p.2). According to film feminist Patricia Mellencamp, "we all come to Feminism at

different times from different places" (1995, p. 10). Mellencamp points out that

Feminism is significant in analyzing stereotypes of women: "Feminism initially is an

undoing then a learning that replaces self-hatred with self-regard, worship of men's ideas

and men with respect for women's thoughts and for women and men" (p. 6). Visual

stereotypes of women in mass media are not new. According to Carolyn Kitch (2001) in

The Girl on the Magazine Cover: The Origins of Visual Stereotypes in American Mass

Media, before television or film emerged as a mass media, magazines established the

earliest stereotypes of women as early as 1895 (p. 13).

Although feminism is now more diverse and offers multiple perspectives, some

commonality and elements distinguish it from other theories. In Feminist Media Studies,

Liesbet Van Zoonen (1994) identifies Feminism's significance: "Its unconditional focus

on analyzing gender as a mechanism that structures material and symbolic worlds and out

experiences of them, is hard to find in other perspectives on humanity and society" (, p.

5). Van Zoonen also explains "Ethnicity, sexuality, class, and a range of other discourses

intersect with gender in various and sometimes contradictory ways" (1994, p. 6). The

study of portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film allows an examination of

these intersections. According to Kaplan (1987), the movies offer us important insights

as "the signs in Hollywood film convey the patriarchal ideology that underlies our social

structures and that constructs women in very specific ways" (p. 24). According to

Haskell (1987) "we want nothing less, on or off the screen than the wide variety and

dazzling diversity of male options" (p. 402).









A greater emphasis is now being placed on the importance of race and ethnicity in

creating the experience of women. This was an oversight in the early days of film

feminism. According to Kaplan, the early work in film feminism rarely focused on the

issue of interracial interaction. In addition, hooks (1992) also addresses concerns about

separating race and gender as issues. She raised the issue that Hollywood was not just a

white man's world but a white woman's world. She writes, "Are we really to imagine

that feminist theorists writing only about the image of white women, who subsume this

specific historical subject under the tantalizing category of 'woman,' do not see the

whiteness of the image" (p. 316)? Race is a significant factor as film has a reliance on

image and the visual impact of skin color is seen to immediately "mark a person"

(Kaplan, 1987, p. 66).

Cultural Studies

The studying of narratives of film and critiquing the role of race and gender in

America can be done effectively through cultural studies (Eschholz et al., 2002, p. 300).

As cultural studies scholar Stuart Hall explains, through cultural studies we are able to

examine the "politics of representation" (1996, p. 89). Hall explains that media

representations not only provide us with the language by which to name the world but

also inform our understanding of categories such as race. The complexity of racism

"expresses through displacement, through denial, through the capacity to say two

contradictory things at the same time, the surface imagery speaking of an unspeakable

content, the repressed content of a culture' (Hall, 1996, p. 341). This "contradictory"

portrayal is also shown in the portrayal of gender in western culture, "the representation

of women has appeared its split form the good/bad girl, the good and the bad mother,









Madonna and whore so the representation of Blacks keep, at different times, exhibiting

this split, double standard" (p. 342).

According to Haskell, "Movies are one of the clearest and most accessible of

looking glasses into the past, being both cultural artifacts and mirrors" (1987, p. xviii).

Representations not only tell us about the world in which we live now, but also

categorize the world for us, giving it an order that is intelligible and makes common

sense (Jiwani, 1992, 183). Early categorizations of women of color tend to portray them

as exotic, erotic, and dangerous. Especially dangerous is the way in which the exotic

women of color were represented as treacherously distracting the white man from his

important mission. Has this stereotype of women of color dissipated over the 38 years of

the study sample? Unfortunately, it is feared within cultural studies that popular culture

feeds rather than challenges stereotypes over time (MacKinnon, 2001, p. 23).

Dominant attitudes not only dominate, but "normalize". That which dominant

groups see is all that is allowed to be seen. It soon becomes the only vision and, at that

point, political and social life 'stagnates" (p.24). Media representation is therefore so

important because it "tells us how we are, who we should be and who we should avoid"

(Kimmer, 1992, p. xii).

Although cultural studies began in the United Kingdom it has become widely used

in the United States and experienced great internalization as a theory which assumes that:

Capitalist industrial societies are societies divided unequally along ethnic, gender,
generational, and class lines. It contends that culture is one of the principal sites
where this division is established and contested: culture is one of the principal sites
where this division is established and contested: culture is a terrain on this takes
place a continual struggle over meaning...it is what makes culture ideological.
(Storey, 1996. p.3)









It is this important ideology that is at the center of cultural studies. Cultural studies

therefore is very useful in the ongoing struggle to define the political engagement of

"gender as an entry into more multiplex and less romantic understanding of the

constituents of power, subordination and resistance" (Long, 1996, p. 203). Interracial

relationships involve many aspects of power and cultural studies help to untangle the

"complex interrelatedness among gender, race, and class as they are constructed" (Long,

1996, p. 202).

Social Construction of Reality Theory

It is impossible to consider framing analysis as a method without using the Social

Construction of Reality Theory. The very concept of "constructs" is critical to any study

or gender and race which are in fact constructs within the society in which they exist.

Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann in The Social Construction ofReality: A Treatise in

The Sociology of Knowledge established that "reality" as we experience it is a social

construct so "Sociological interest in questions of 'reality' and 'knowledge' is thus

initially justified by the fact of social relativity" (1966, p. 3). This critical approach was

further developed to apply to mass media research by Gaye Tuchman in Making News: A

study in the Construction ofReality where she states "knowledge is always socially

constructed" (1978, p. 10). Gender, sexuality, race, and class can be viewed "as social

constructs" (Dines & Humez, 2003, p. 4). In feminist media studies which are

"intrinsically political," looks at how these are constructed while working towards "more

varied portrayal" of women, sexuality and minorities in the media (Van Zoonen, 1994, p.

4). According to Hubbard in The Social Construction of Sexuality, "each of us writes

our own sexual script out of the range of our experiences. None of this script is inborn or









biologically given. We construct it out of our diverse life situations, limited by what we

are taught or what we can imagine to be permissible and correct" (2004, p. 67).

Media images are significant because they help us determine what we "consider to

be good or bad; positive or negative, moral or evil" (Kellner, p. 9). Social construction of

Reality Theory acknowledges that film like other media provides an audience with

images that are important factors in social construction of reality among the general

public, and therefore may perpetuate racism and sexism on a larger scale (Eschholz et al,

2002, p. 299). Croteau, Gamson, Hoynes, and Sasson (1992) media images contribute

greatly to constructs of reality:

By now the story is familiar. We walk around with media-generates images of the

world, using them to construct meaning about political and social issues. The lens

through which we receive this images in not neutral but evinces the power and point of

view of the political and economic elites who focus it.

The authors also point out that in addition to being exposed to a very limited and

elite construct of reality, most people do not realize the unreality of it all, for "the special

genius of this system is to make the whole process seem so normal and natural that the

very art of social construction is invisible" (Croteau D. et al., 1992, p. 374). By focusing

on the repeated use of images and text in media we are able to deconstruct the "reality".

Although many people might think that race is a biological categorization, it like gender

is also a construct. According to Holtzman (2000), the shift in meaning of race

throughout U.S. history provides important clues to its definition. It is not biological, nor

is it based primarily on skin color. As we look at history we will see that it is not









necessarily based on ethnicity or one's country or origin. Rather race is constructed

socially, politically, and economically (p. 158).

Messages from the film industry over time have sought to exploit the use of race as

a source of conflict. As one of the oldest forms of mass media, films, along with other

forms of mass media, have historically helped to determine our own gender and racial

identities: What it means to belong to a certain race, or to be a male or female, or to

belong to a class or to be heterosexual or homosexual (Kellner, 2003, p. 9).

The objective of this research is to examine the "signification system" of race and

gender from Hollywood. Film serves as "a powerful site for the production,

transformation and maintenance of traditional cultural notions of identity" (Berland et al,

1992, p.35). While such "cultural notions" exist, film also offers a medium to show

change and if gender is a construct, can offer new notions about race, sexuality, and

gender. This study explores if notions have indeed changed over the past four decades in

the big screen's most popular box office hits.

Delving into the constructs of gender at this time in Western society offers an

important insight as "to image change as empowering and at the same time threatening,

as women and men struggle to construct individual and collective meanings during a

transitional period" (Berger et al., 1966, p. 43). Doing so in studying film examines the

construct in media and reflects a greater issue in our culture: To have a self and to be

female is a contradiction at the heart of the social construction of women's role in

contemporary society. The power of the film medium is that it allows us to glimpse new

possibilities for integrating these polarities, which can empower women and men to

imagine new narrative yet to be written and lived (Berger et al., 1996 p. 43).









Mass media in America has historically used race as a factor in "establishing

cultural, economic, and political membership in the Country" where a lack of diversity in

the portrayal of race in media is both "significant and dangerous" (Ghosh, 274).

Much effort has been made to show how mass media constructs of race create

stereotypical images. There are several problems with stereotyping but the greatest

concern is that it leads to ethnocentrisms and prejudice (Neuliep, 2003, p. 157).

According to Manning Marable in Racism and Sexism, "When we try to articulate an

agenda of multicultural democracy, we run immediately into the stumbling block of

stereotypes the device at the heart of every form of racism today" (2004, p. 160).

Along with the construct of race comes an implied social power structure. Media

Scholar James Lull explains further that "hegemony is the power or dominance that one

social group holds over others...but hegemony is more than social power itself; it is a

method for gaining and maintaining power" (2003, p.61). The term "hegemony" is

attributed to Italian intellectual Antonio Gramsci who saw that the mass media as tools

that ruling elites use to "perpetuate their power, wealth and status [by popularizing] their

own philosophy, culture and morality" (Boggs, 1987, p. 36).

In American society, where 98% of marriages in the 2000 Census were same-race

unions, interracial relationships can be viewed as outside the norm and the framing

analysis and content analysis question if interracial relationships are portrayed as

problematic or lasting. Does the portrayal of interracial relationships over almost four

decades reflect major change? Neal Lester and Maureen Daly Goggin say that despite

legal efforts in landmark decisions like Brown v. The Board of Education in 1954 and the

abolition of anti-miscegenation laws in 1967, "interracial coupling"-"continues to be









characterized as deviant and out of bounds by both sides of the black/white sociopolitical

divide" (2005, p. 132). Lester and Goggin (2005) suggest that those who seek interracial

relationships "acknowledge that their desires and actions transgress socio-political

boundaries" (p. 133). Also, according to Lester and Goggin although a romantic or

sexual relationship might be considered to be a personal choice, interracial relationship

choices indicate that "in matters of sex, race, and gender, personal choices are at times

read and rendered as political judgments" (p. 134). Film, as a visual medium, is capable

of showing the individual what is "real" and influence the "selves" of individual

members of the audience (Hedley, 2002. p. 202).

Cultivation Theory

In using content analysis as research method in this study, Cultivation Theory (also

referred to as Cultivation analysis or the Cultivation hypothesis) is an important

theoretical element. Cultivation theory was developed by media scholar George Gerbner

and argues that mass media cultivate attitudes and values which are already present in a

culture: the media maintains and propagate these values amongst members of a culture,

thereby binding it together (Boyd- Barrett & Braham, 1987, p. 100). Cultivation analysis

is defined by Gerbner as the investigation of the consequences of ongoing and pervasive

systems of cultural messages. He adds that the size of an "effect" is far less critical than

the direction of its steady contribution (1980, p. 212). This study involves the direction

of steady contribution over a 38-year period. Gerbner describes the power of the media

as being inherent in the stories that are repeatedly told, though the content analysis at the

heart of Cultivation research are almost never about the stories (Gerbner, 1998). The

analyses are about the acts of violence, they are about characters and their attributes









(Gandy, 2003, p. 362). Cultivation theory serves ideally in research such as this that

seeks to study violence and also the specific attributes of characters.

In media studies the mass media serves as a socialization agent and investigates

how media viewers come to believe the television version of reality. Although much of

Gerbner's research was conducted in studies on the effects of television, Cultivation

theory is valuable in studying other forms of "mass produced stories" (Gerbner, 1998, p.

176). Gerbner examined "Cultural Indicators" in cultivation research projects which

were used to track the "central themes of television's dramatic content since 1967" (1998,

p. 180).

Cultivation theory is useful in looking at the interrelatedness of many variables in

mass media studies not merely violence and has dealt with variables such as

sexualization, gender roles, age groups, ethnic groups and political attitudes (Dominick,

1990, p. 12; Gerbner et al, 1980, p. 212; Signorelli, 1978). According to Gerbner:

The point is that cultivation is not conceived as unidirectional but rather more like a
gravitational process. The angle and direction of the pull depends on where groups
of viewers and their styles of life are with reference to the line of gravity or
"mainstream" of the world of television. Each group may strain in a different
direction, but all groups are affected by the same central current. (Gerbner 1998, p.
180)

The process of the convergence of outlooks is referred to as "mainstreaming"

(Gerbner, 1998, p. 181). Cultivation theorists distinguish between "first order" effects

such as the general beliefs about everyday life and "second order effects" such as specific

attitudes. Cultivation theory has been used in studies of gender to extrapolate

assumptions about the images of women in television which found that the under-

representation of women in the world of television has a relationship to higher scores of

the "sexism scare" for heavy viewers (Signorelli, 1989). Cultivation analysis "is well









suited to multinational and cross-cultural comparative studies" (Gerbner 1977, 1989;

Morgan, 1990). Cultivation analysis "concentrates on the enduring and common

consequences of growing up and living with mass media stories that are repeatedly

perpetuation certain cultural messages (Gerbner, 1998, p. 191).

In the study of interactions with racial groups and with gender different from

oneself, Cultivation theory (Gerbner, Gross, Morgan & Signorelli, 1994) explains that

media contributes to one's expectation about people and places "in the real world"

(Larson, p. 223). Studies that compare interactions between different racial groups are

rare (Larson, p. 224). Gerbner, like many other media scholars, points out that the "giant

industries discharge their messages into the mainstream of common conscious" (Gerbner,

1998, p. 176). The messages created by the media industry then serve to direct the flow

of ideas in society in the pull of what Gerbner describes as a "gravitational process."

Although each social group may be affected differently, "all groups are affected by the

same central current. Cultivation is thus "part of a continual, dynamic, ongoing process of

interaction among messages and contexts" (Gerbner, 1998, p. 180).

Cultivation theory serves as an important element in the use of content analysis as a

quantitative method in this study to ask questions about existence, priority or importance,

evaluative assessment and relationship between elements (Gandy, 2003, p. 362).

Research Questions:

The representation of culture in film and the theoretical perspectives discussed

above led to the following research questions which will be studied in the framing

analysis and the content analysis.

R1: How are women in romantic and/or sexual interracial relationships in films under
study portrayed?






33


R2: Are sexual or romantic relationships framed as central to the lives of the women in
the films under study?

R3: Are the women in interracial romantic and/or sexual relationships in the film under
study framed as overcoming adversity and/or hostility from people outside the
relationship?

R4: Are the women in romantic and/or sexual relationships in the films under study
framed as being in control of their romantic and/or sexual future?

R5: Are the women in interracial relationships under study framed as sexualized in
behavior, appearance, and motivation?














CHAPTER 2
METHODS

The objective of the research for this dissertation was to explore and investigate the

social constructs of gender and race when examined in the portrayal of women in

interracial relationships in popular American film. Two research methods were used.

Triangulation: Using A Quantitative Method And A Qualitative Method

Media scholars along with academic scholars in other disciplines have long debated

the superiority of quantitative research methods over qualitative and vice versa. Clearly

both quantitative and qualitative research offer benefits to the scholar, and the choice of

what method to use would best be made by consideration of the research question. The

exploratory and descriptive nature of this study is complex and multi-faceted. After

much contemplation, the decision was made to use a qualitative method first and then a

quantitative method to test or further explore the findings of the first method. It is no

secret that qualitative research can be subjective. Nor is it uncommon for research on

race, sex, or gender to be considered controversial. To conduct a study capable of

generating the greatest and most significant findings, a framing analysis and a content

analysis study were designed to examine the portrayal of women in interracial

relationships in film from 1967 2005.

John W. Creswell (1998) in Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design explains that

ontology asks the important question: What is the nature of reality? Social Construction

of Reality theory illustrates that "reality," as we experience it, is subjective and multiple.

The use of qualitative research allows the research to access the versions of reality shown









in the media and also as it is experienced by the audience. Researchers in qualitative

research go beyond looking at quantitative measures to use quotes and themes in words

and images to provide evidence of different perspectives. From an Epistemological

perspective the question is: "What is the relationship between the researcher and that

being researched?" A researcher attempts to lessen distance between him/herself and the

subject being researched. The research intimately explores the text or message and

"becomes an insider." The nature of qualitative research makes it impossible to blend

with quantitative research which seeks to maintain objectivity and distance from the

studied text, message or audience. This study, therefore, never seeks to blend the

traditions of qualitative and quantitative research but sequentially uses each method to

explore the textual messages of the film and then to objectively explore the statistical

significance of variables present in the film.

The Critical tradition of qualitative research described by Guba and Lincoln (1994)

refer to a blanket term denoting a set of several alternative paradigms, including but not

limited to neo-Marxism, feminism, materialism and participatory inquiry (p. 11). The

value determined nature of inquiry or epistemological difference is the common

breakaway assumption. In media effects, the investigator and investigated "object" are

assumed to be independent. Not so in critical theory. The researcher is thought to be a

"transformational intellectual" not an indifferent "disinterested scientist". The Critical

theorist is concerned with historical, social, political, and economic environments

surrounding the inquiries. Media effects follow the model of create hypothesis gather

data prove or disprove data.









The media effects tradition emerged initially in America mass communication and

can be seen with the Payne Fund Study, the first and largest media effects study done in

mass communication history from 1929 1932. The Magic Bullet theory emerged and

then uses gratification. The critical tradition however, was born from the social science

tradition of the Chicago School, which originated with the Frankfurt School (1920) long

before this (Rogers, 1994, p. 137). The Frankfurt School concentrated on theories of

Marx and Freud. The critical scholars were neo-Marxist, humanistic, and intellectual

(Rogers, 1994 p. 129). The Critical cultural tradition is heavily influence by the theories

of Marx (1818 1883) and Weber (1779 1831). The Frankfurt School scholars were

philosophers and not interested in merely gathering data. The activities of the critical

tradition are intended to lead to an ideal society without human exploitation.

Historically, the issues facing the Critical tradition were very much concerned with issues

of ownership and control of the mass media. Such topics escaped scholars like Paul

Lazarfeld, who took to investigating effects. The tension now between the critical and

empirical communication scholars poses "a fruitful intellectual challenge" (Rogers, 1997,

p. 125). During the 1970s, media effects studies dominated mass communication

research efforts but and were dependent on quantitative research that sought to gather and

analyze data.

According to Egon Guba and Yvonna Lincoln (1994) media effects methods are

very outcome-oriented while critical is process oriented. In qualitative research the

impact of anthropology and social science on the Critical-cultural tradition is essential,

while the natural science view impacts media effects (p. 115). The goal in critical

cultural studies is to understand the investigated view whereas media affects it to find









facts and causes. Media effects are born out of the hard sciences such a chemistry or

physics. Critical cultural unlike media effects does not seek statistical relationships but

greater insight into human relationships. The role of hegemony is significant in the

qualitative research tradition.

As Guba and Lincoln (1994) imply, the differences between qualitative and

quantitative methods go way beyond mere "philosophical" difference, but have

implications that impact the practical conduct of inquiry, as well as for the interpretation

of findings and policy choices. The authors claim that "a dialogue among paradigm

proponents of all stripes will afford the best avenue for moving toward a responsive and

congenial relationship" (p. 116). Knowing that qualitative and quantitative methods offer

very different philosophical and methodological approaches can be viewed as a divisive

reality for media scholars.

Multiple Methods as "Crystallization," Not Merely Triangulation

Clearly, media scholars use using either a quantitative or qualitative research

method to effectively find valid and reliable results consistently in media studies. The

triangulation method is not necessary in order to obtain reliable findings. This study,

therefore, uses multiple research methods not merely to "verify" findings but to go

beyond the "rigid fixed two dimensional objects" of a triangle and enter into the

"crystallization". In the Handbook of Qualitative Research, Norman Denzin and Yvonne

Lincoln (2000) explain that triangulation methods went through a period of popularity

because of validity concerns alone (p. 934). Researchers of multiple methods now seek

to go beyond this limitation and use crystallization to "provide us with deepened,

complete, thoroughly partial, understanding of the topic" (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p.









934). Crystallization, therefore, is useful in the research of a multi-faceted study that

examines interrelated variables of sex, race, gender and time.

This work on sex, gender, and race seeks to embrace the diversity of the two

methods and, rather than see one as "superior," endeavors to utilize the benefits of both

measures creating a greater concept of the scope, magnitude, significance, and

implications of the portrayal of interracial relationships on Hollywood's big screen.

This study of interracial relationships spans a sample of 38 years of Hollywood

films. Examining the texts of almost four decades of popular film requires a close

inspection of the text and images of the film itself. In looking at trends over this long

time in media history, quantitative research is very appropriate and useful in indicating

statistical significance of frequency, trends, and the inter-relatedness of variables of time,

race, gender, and sexual portrayal. Such precise insights are difficult to ascertain with a

qualitative method only.

As Van Zoonen (2003) points out the feminist media research, or any interpretive

research, is "often conducted by one researcher who formulates the research question,

decides on sampling, designs instruments for data collection and analysis, then actually

collects and analyses empirical material and finally conjures up the research report".

Such a significant role of the researcher can create validity and reliability concerns about

subjectivity and bias "interpretations" (p. 143). For this reason this study was designed to

create measures of validity and reliability to correct for such problems in the research

design and findings. Using a "cross-check" approach by creating and utilizing a Delphi

Panel before the study began was, for this very purpose, to establish that the sample and

research methods were valuable beyond one researcher's possibly "biased interpretation"









(Denzin & Lincoln, 2000, p. 393). Powers, Rothman and Rothman (1996) in

Hollywood's America: Social and Political Themes in Motion Pictures make it clear that

looking at one film alone or a small group of films "significantly influence audiences

over a long haul," but by studying a large sample of films over a longer period of time,

we explore "it is reasonable to believe that such presentation will affect audiences to a

significant extent" (p. 10).

What is a researcher to do to create a study that overcomes the potential of bias and

subjectivity? Clearly, studies of sex, gender, and race in interracial relationships are rare

and, thereby, inherently possess the potential for conflict in the findings. Van Zoonen

(2003) points out that "triangulation data sources and methods tend to even out the flaws

of individual research methods and augments the likelihood that a variety of perspectives

have been brought into the examination and analysis" (p. 164). Using multiple methods

and multiple sources can create research that is more "compelling, and therefore be

regarded as more robust" (Yin, 1984, p. 234). Another benefit of using multiple

methods is that it offers researchers corroborating evidence (Ely et al., 1991; Erlandson et

al., 1993; Glesne & Peshkin, 1992; Patton: 1990). The qualitative researcher benefits

from using a quantitative and qualitative method by gaining greater perspective and a

"verification procedure" (Creswell, 1998, p. 202).

Since there is currently so little research conducted on the portrayal of interracial

relationships in mass media, doing both the framing analysis and content analysis will

hopefully establish a foundation for future studies. The findings of the framing analysis

were used to create the categories studied in the content analysis. The combination of the









two methods offers the best of both quantitative and qualitative research theory and

methodology.

Framing analysis

Framing is a research method that is currently extensively used to study media

messages (Holstein, 2003, p. 26). The origins of framing analysis can be traced back to

the work of sociologist Erving Goffman in Frame Analysis: An Essay on the

Organization of Experience in 1974. According to Goffman the "'frame" in frame

analysis refers to this inevitably relational dimension of meaning" (1974, p. xii) and finds

its origins in the Social Construction of Reality Theory. According to Goffman "frame

analysis is a slogan to refer to the examination in these terms of the organization of

experience" (p. 11). Goffman's concept of frames as the organization of experience as a

schemataa of information" was soon built upon by other sociologists and then media

scholars. One early application of framing analysis for media studies was conducted by

Gaye Tuchman (1978) in Making News: A Study in the Construction ofReality. It has

since been used many times by scholars of the mass media. William A. Gamson in

Framing Public Life, a frame analysis identifies three components: The attention to the

production process, the examination of the texts, and addressing the complex interaction

of texts with an active audience engaged in negotiating meaning" (2001, p x.). Gamson

points out that "frames are of greatest interest to the extent that they add up to something

bigger than an individual story" (2001, p. 13). Gitlin argues that "media frames, largely

unspoken and unacknowledged, organize the world media frames as a persistent pattern

of cognition, interpretation, and presentation, of selection, emphasis and exclusion, by

which symbol-handlers routinely organize discourse, whether verbal or visual" (2001. p.

16).









Although many scholars have used the metaphor of a picture frame for the method

of framing, the media scholar is urged to "move beyond two-dimensional thinking about

framing" (Holstein, 2003, p. 7). Tankard suggests that it would be more helpful to think

of the frame-of-a-house rather than frame-of-a-picture metaphor. The "house construction

has two parts. It is an attempt to provide a useful way of thinking about frames, in a

three-dimensional sense, that connects frames to their social context through hegemony

and implications of social construction (Holstein, 2003. p. 8)

The argument about the importance of frames in media and portrayal is best made

by Stuart Hall (1996), "framing of all competing definitions of reality within [the

dominant class] range, bringing alternatives within their horizons of thought sets the

limits -mental and structural -within which subordinate classes live and make sense of

their subordination in such a way as to sustain the dominance of those ruling over them"

(p. 333). Lull (2003) says that "hegemony implies the willing agreement by people to be

governed by principles, rules, and laws they believe operate in their best interest, even

though in actual practice they may not" (p. 630). According to Hall, the critical element

of hegemony is that it is "fragile," as "it is not a 'given' and permanent state of affairs,

but it has to be actively won and secured; it can be lost" (p. 333).

This research offers some diversion from that previously collected on the portrayal

of women in relationships in film and allows a new look at power, race, gender, and

sexuality. The added factor of race to gender appears to create new dynamics of power.

This information is important as it shows the comparison of women to one another rather

than to men. Most research has a tendency to focus on the portrayal of males and the

comparison with males. Hegemony is maintained in our society "not just by males but by









females, too, who often see traditional gender roles as so standard and normal that

hegemonic structures, limits and barriers are all but invisible" (Holtzman, 2000, p. 72).

Recently, framing analysis has taken on many variations in design, at the heart of

the method lies the three-dimensional connection between "power contained within

hegemony and the role of culture" to do so "diminishes the concept" (Holstein, 2003, p.

11).

Framing is a useful tool to examine existing concepts about media hegemony and

possibly offer new insights. Holstein states that "framing offers a means to bring

hegemony to the foreground and challenge the very notion that common sense 'just is'.

Framing can serve as an "illumination" (Holstein, 2003, p. 12). Framing is based on the

premise that individuals interpret media messages in light of previous experience (Hall,

2000, p 44). Frames can assist us in identifying problems and in redefining our

"perceived reality." By redefining the problem, frames allow us to evaluate causal agents

and offer "treatment recommendations" (Entman, 1993).

Gamson, Croteau, Hoynes and Sasson (1992) claim that media creates messages

which promote "apathy, cynicism, and quiescence rather than active citizenship and

participation" (p. 391). The authors challenge media researchers to question the

constructions of reality being offered in a media industry oligopoly marketplace:

Ideally, a media system suitable for a democracy ought to provide its readers with

some coherent sense of the broader social forces that affect the conditions of everyday

life. It is difficult to find anyone who would claim that media discourse in the United

States even remotely approaches this ideal (Gamson et al., 2002, p. 391).









The purpose of the framing analysis element of this study seeks to question the

existing constructs of reality about interracial interaction between men and women on the

big screen since 1967 in blockbuster films.

Creating the Framing Analysis

Before the framing analysis began, the films used for the sample study were

identified. As media research textbooks point out, a reliable and representative sample is

critical to the validity and reliability of the findings of a study. Great care was taken in

identifying this sample and a Delphi panel was created to assist with the final selection of

the sample.

Delphi Panel

This study involved extensive thought into the design and execution of the

research. To create objectivity and solicit insight, a Delphi Panel was consulted on issues

related to the design of the study of the film. The Delphi Panel method was developed in

the 1950s to systematically utilize expert opinion in "controversial socio political areas of

discourse (Spinelli, 1983, p. 73). This method was used because of the complex, and

potentially controversial aspects of the study, which focuses on multiple issues of socio-

political variables including sexuality, gender, and race. Consisting of five media

scholars with a specialty in mass media, film, sex, and gender or research, the Delphi

Panel reviewed of the selection of the films in the sample and concurred that the films

met the criteria of the study. The panel overlooked the database Top 15 lists for each to

make sure that no film had been overlooked in the sample and might need to be included.

The panel also assisted in conferring that the unit of analysis of study should be each

interracial relationship in each film under study.









Other technical questions were answered by the panel that included how to treat the

portrayal of an actor of one race who is being portrayed in the film as another race. For

example, in Little Big Man, Dustin Hoffman is portrayed as an Indian man who is

actually a white man. The panel determined that the character needed to be studied

according to the race they were portraying in the film and not necessarily their actual

race. The panel also determined that the study should be limited to include only human

male and female relationships. This question was raised as a number of films like Star

Wars or Lord of the Rings involved fantasy species and races. The panel was referred to

throughout the research to resolve issues of possible controversy and to offer agreement

on research outcomes such as the framing analysis findings or content analysis coding

categories.

The Films in the Sample

Media scholars have pointed out that one problem with film or television studies is,

"depending on the movies or programs one picks as representative and without a

publicly validating scheming coding films one can prove almost anything" (Rothman

et al, 1993, p. 66). The method of selecting films as "representative" therefore is very

important to the validity and reliability of the study. The important step to determining

the size and scope of the film sample to create an adequate representation was heavily

considered before being selected. The determination was made to begin the scope of the

study in 1967 because, before this year in the United States of America, many states had

laws banning interracial marriage or relationships. The selection of 1967 marks the year

of the Supreme Court decision in the Loving V. Virginia abolishing anti-miscegenation

laws as unconstitutional. Incidentally, it was also the year that Academy Awards were









given for the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner based upon white parent's initial alarm

at their grown daughter's desire to marry a professional black male.

Starting the research in 1967 created an unexpected challenge in finding archived

databases which offered much detail about the box office sales from the late 1960s and

1970s. Several databases offered the top 100 box office films since 1980. Finding the

top blockbuster films for earlier years was challenging and inconsistent. In order to

provide an equitable sample size for each year, the top 15 films in box office sales were

identified as a consistent and reliable box office listing. This list was compiled from the

online database of boxofficereport.com, originally downloaded and finalized in February

2006. Rather than using a random sample, it was determined the sample would contain

all films within the 38 year span that featured an interracial relationship.

There are many ways to select movies for study but box office sales was selected as

significant since it is a reflection of the highest earning films which had the greatest

exposure to the highest number of people in each year. It is often argued that the

audience is a significant element in our complex media system (Lind, p. 11). Audience

size and exposure does matter when looking at mainstream American films as this is what

makes them blockbusters. This study seeks to examine the mass media impact of film

and, therefore, examines what was most popular and had the greatest impact. Although

video rental numbers are a significant source of film income currently, this would not

have been a consistent factor for creating a sample from the 1960s.

The top 15 blockbuster's lists were researched to identify films that had potential

for interracial relationship in them based upon the theme of the film and the race or

ethnicity of the actors in the film. The Delphi Panel of media experts also assisted in this









process. The extensive film Database ofIMDb.com was used for cast and film story line

research. The cast line list was studied to identify ethnicity and gender factors of the

actors involved in each film. Descriptions of each film from movie guides were also

studied to see if cultural or racial issues were identified. It was generally impossible to

make a decision based upon descriptions and cast lists alone so often the film was

reviewed to disclose if any interracial relationships were actually portrayed. This process

resulted in a list of 60 films initially selected. These 60 films were viewed, and those not

actually containing a male and female interracial sexual or romantic relationship were

excluded. It is interesting to note how often leading black males flirted with their white

female counterparts but no romantic or sexual relationship ever fully materialized. At

this point, it was defined that "relationships" were identified as those that are romantic or

sexual between a heterosexual male and heterosexual female of different races and not

merely based on flirtation or friendship.

The films that qualified for this description were placed on the final list consisting

of 36 films. This list is included in the appendix. These films were then carefully studied

using framing analysis techniques described elsewhere. Copious notes were taken to

document the portrayal, words, actions, images, and behavior of the females in these

films in response to the five research questions. After all the films were viewed, the

analysis was formed in response to the four research questions based on the frames of the

females.

The findings of the framing analysis then served to create the categories for the

content analysis study. It was necessary for this research to identify the defining

concept of "interracial" relationships. Romantic interracial and/or sexual relationships









were defined as those involving a man and woman who represent different racial

categories identified by the most recent U.S. Census to determine the criteria for film to

study. The U. S. Census identifies interracial marriages and living relationships as those

involving people from two different categories. This same categorization was used for

this research process to ensure consistency in definition.

Coding Procedures

Once the films to be included in the sample were established, the next step was to

establish that each interracial relationship within a film serves as the unit of analysis.

Therefore, a film may need to be coded for more than one relationship. In the James

Bond films, for example, Bond often has a number of interracial relationships within one

movie. Each of these relationships would be coded separately in the content analysis. It

was necessary to identify the defining concept of "interracial" relationships. Romantic

interracial and/or sexual relationships were defined as those involving a man and woman

who represent different racial categories identified by the most recent U.S. Census. The

U. S. Census (2000) identifies interracial marriages and living relationships as those

involving people from two different categories. This meant that leading roles in films

with men and women of different races made the film a possible sample for this research

if a romantic or sexual relationship was portrayed.

In addition, the sample included films that had interracial relationships as current in

the storyline. For example, in Meet the Fochers (2005) the storyline involved an

interracial relationship that the main character had with his Hispanic housekeeper when

he was a teenager. The Delphi Panel members decided that the interracial relationship

had to be part of the plot during the film and coding could not be based on a relationship









in the back-story of the plot. Coding for variables described by characters about the past

would have been problematic for several reasons.

The films which qualified as "interracial romantic or sexual relationships" were

placed on the final list which consisted of 36 films. Therefore, the review process

eliminated 24 films from the sample. The list of films that were actually studied is

included in the appendix and descriptions of the film are included in the analyses. The

films in the sample were then carefully examined using framing analysis techniques

described elsewhere. Copious notes were taken to document the portrayal, words,

actions, images and behavior of the females in these films in response to the five research

questions. For example, after reviewing the film with sound, the investigator then

watched the film without sound to document non-verbal interactions as well as verbal

communications.

After all the films were viewed, the content analysis frames were formed in

response to the research questions based on the portrayal of the women. This step was

also significant not merely because the frames were based upon the actual text of the

films but because the content of the frames were used to create the 41 question coding

sheet for the content analysis portion of the study. This created the effect of getting the

initial findings in the framing analysis and then "quantifying" the findings in the content

analysis.

Conducting the Framing Analysis

The films included in the study were selected and verified as described previously.

The research questions for the framing analysis were identified after conducting an

extensive literature review of the mass media research in the history of film, women in

film, race in film, gender in film, sexuality in film, interracial relationships in other forms









of mass media, and interracial relationships in film. The questions under study in the

framing analysis were used to direct the structure of the framing analysis. Each film in

the sample was viewed by the researcher a number of times and copious notes were taken

as previously described.

Conducting a framing analysis is an extremely time consuming and energy

requiring endeavor for the researcher. Attention to detail was paid not only to the film

storyline but to the details of each character in an interracial relationship: How were they

portrayed? In what way did they walk, talk and interact with other people in the film, not

just the relationship? What was the role of the character in the film? How important was

he or she to the film? What was the nature of the relationship in the film? What words,

images and film angles contributed to the portrayal of the character? The framing

analysis served to identify issues of "salience" within the media text, which in this study

was the film itself (Paxton, 2004 p. 44). Great study was given to the interaction of

characters as "frames are often unspoken and unacknowledged" (Gitlin, 1980).

The challenge in researching potentially politically sensitive research subjects such

as race, sexuality, and gender require the researcher to look beyond what is being shown

and see what is not being shown! James Tankard (2001) points out that the researcher

has to carefully observe the media text to see beyond the illusion being offered stating

"media framing can be likened to the magician's sleight of hand attention is directed to

one point so that people do not notice the manipulation that is going on at another point"

(p.97). The framing analysis was conducted by watching the films, studying the portrayal

of the men and women involved in the interracial relationship in the film, and how they

were treated within the storyline and by other characters in the film. The frames which






50


emerged were then discussed in detail with a peer review committee of mass media

experts with an emphasis of expertise in sex, gender, and race. The findings and the

proposed frames were scrutinized for significance. The use of peer review is considered

by many media scholars to be an effective way for qualitative researchers to cross-check

for validity (Creswell, 1998; van Zoonen, 2003). The final results and the emerging

frames are described in response to the research questions established at the start of the

study.














CHAPTER 3
THE PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN IN INTERRACIAL RELATIONSHIPS IN FILM

Womanhood in the Sample Films

After conducting the research in the framing analysis, the following is a description

of the dominant frames that were identified in response to the research questions

established earlier in the study:

R1:How are women in romantic or sexual interracial relationships in films under study
framed?

In the 36 films under study, very specific patterns emerged. As a result of

extensive research, eight dominant frames were identified from the portrayal of women in

the films:

* The White Woman as Flawed, and/or Fragile

* All's "Fair" in love and war: The hierarchy of skin color in the portrayal of good
and evil

* Love you to Death: Interracial relationships in a world of violence and conflict

* Gender Benders: Women in Interracial Relationship's Failure to be Feminine

* The "Super-model" Minorities: Women of Color as Exotic, Erotic, and
Exceptional and the men of color as the perfect Gentleman

* The Mary Magdalene Frame: Unworthy women Distracting Men from Their
Mission in Life

* White Male Fantasy: Skin, Sex, Subservience and Saving the Damsel in Distress

The White Woman as Flawed and/or Fragile

From the 38 years of film in this study 1967 2005, the top 15 popular films in box

office sales were considered and reviewed. This means that of the possible 540 films









studied only 11 examples of white women in an interracial relationship in almost four

decades were found. This in and of itself is a telling statistic. The portrayal of white

women in an interracial relationship in film, therefore, accounts for 0.019 percent of all

films. What is also interesting to note is that the trend has not changed over the decades

but become more exaggerated as there are NO white women in the last decade of the

study. Of the four decades of films, there were 11 white women compared to 34 women

of color. Before research results are even described, it is clear that a white male with a

woman of color as opposed to a white woman with a man of color represents the most

reoccurring examples in the portrayal of interracial relationships in film. Hollywood is

apparently reluctant to put a white woman in a role in a film with a man of any other

color.

The message from Hollywood appears to be very clear for audiences of popular

films over the past four decades: White women portrayed in an interracial relationship

are rare and atypical, and apparently in the past decade that has become more a trend

rather than less and now white women in interracial relationships are a portrayal to be

avoided. In the literature review, many media scholars are quoted explaining how society

is impacted when certain messages are repeatedly portrayed. This frame addressed the

opposite: what happens when a message is excluded? When there are a very miniscule

percentage of white women portrayed in an interracial relationship or none for a decade,

the portrayal of the 11 women seems even more important. The 11 women in the films

under study are "media representatives," as cultural studies scholar Stuart Hall has

identified and these limited portrayals in popular film stand to represent both their gender









and their race. Perhaps that fact alone makes the negative portrayal of white women in

popular film all the more damaging and significant.

The framing analysis revealed a disturbing trend in Hollywood's portrayal of white

women who chose sexual or romantic partners of another race in the films under study:

there is clearly something socially, morally, or personally wrong with them. Considered

in the context of the film's storyline, their significance to the plot, their interaction with

other characters in the film, and their appearance and behaviors, white women in

interracial relationships are always portrayed either as flawed, fragile, or considerably

less important than the other characters in the film. No healthy, balanced, or safe

portrayal of a white woman in an interracial has been offered in the history of film from

1967 2005. On the surface, it may appear that the white woman is pretty, successful,

and happy, or even sexually liberated and aggressive, but upon closer investigation she is

always highly dependent and susceptible to the decisions of the other more powerful

characters in the storyline or plot. Unlike women of color portrayed in interracial

relationships, white women do not seem capable of taking care of themselves without a

man's care. They also possess very little skill or purpose in life and often appear as an

appendage or accessory to the men in the film's storyline or plot. They are always

beautiful and portrayed as sexually desirable but that portrayal is coated in a layer of

vulnerability that they seem unaware of identifying for themselves. Specific examples of

this will be provided from the films under study in the upcoming descriptions.

In what way are the white women portrayed negatively? Of the eleven women in

the films under study they are all portrayed as socially vulnerable, and most are morally

corrupt. The women are shown as victims of verbal, physical, and sexual abuse; drug









addicts; sexually immoral, and socially inept or naive. They have a tendency to create

problems for other characters in the film and are presented as needy, dependent, and

without a clear purpose in life. More than anything, the most common portrayal of the

white women is being self consumed and only interested in what they want: usually sex,

drugs, or being taken care of by their non-white partner.

The films under study which include white women are: Guess who's Coming to

Dinner (1967); Billy Jack (1971) and The Trial ofBilly Jack (1974); Shaft (1971);

Blazing Saddles (1974); Cheech 'N" Chong movies' Up in Smoke (1978) and The Next

Movie (1980); Scarface (1983) and Pulp Fiction (1994). It is interesting to note that

white women were mostly portrayed in interracial relationships in film during the 1970s.

This is understandably due to the Civil Right's and Women's Movement. Of further

interest is that NO women were shown in film in interracial relationships from 1995 to

2005, the period in which the U.S. Census indicated interracial relationships were

actually growing significantly. The significance of the 1970s as a time of greater

interaction between races and the more positive portrayal of women in interracial

relationships is discussed in greater detail in the findings of the content analysis. The role

of the white woman in film in the late 1990s and early 2000s appear to have been

assumed by the presence of Hispanic. There were no Hispanic females portrayed in any

films until this time and Hispanic women in interracial relationships are completely

absent from the study before 1994. After 1995, we no longer see any white women in

interracial relationships portrayed in the films under study.

The way in which the women in the films under study act, speak, appear, and even

survive tells us much about their social significance in the realm of the big screen









portrayal. The violent and sexual treatment of some white women is both disturbing and

painfully significant. In Rising Sun (1994), Cheryl Austin, played by Tatjana Patitz, is the

beautiful and cold, white female lover of a Japanese wealthy character, Eddie. She plays

the role of the bored, drug addicted, unfaithful, and sexually deviant women to the

extreme. She is watching Eddie, her Japanese lover and keeper, singing karaoke in a bar.

Obviously restless, she leaves the bar and Eddie comes running after her. He roughly

grabs her by the arm and she tells him in a heavy Southern slow drawl, "I was bored to

death." Ironically enough, within minutes, she shows up dead.

The camera angles on Cheryl continuously objectify her as a beautiful woman and

her long legs and large breasts are frequently the focus of her presence. Before her death,

she is shown sitting in front of a mirror, completely naked, powdering her neck to hide

her bruises while Eddie watches her. She is an excellent example of Laura Mulvey's

male gaze as the audience voyeuristically watches Cheryl look at her naked self in the

mirror as the audience watches Eddie watch her look at herself! Ironically, when not

looking at herself, Cheryl is looking at the television news coverage of her other lover in

the film. Eddie is aware of her indiscretion and laughs at her. In one of her few lines in

the film, Cheryl says "I don't get you, Eddie." This becomes an understatement as it is

later revealed that Cheryl is Eddie's mistress, and he most likely offered her sexually to

the American politician as a sign of Japanese hospitality. She is portrayed as a

possession of Eddie's that he controls and is in a position 'to offer" to another man for his

own political and financial benefit.

Perhaps the most telling portrayal of the significance (or insignificance) of women

in the films under study is when Cheryl is shown later in a very explicit scene having sex









on a conference room table. The angle of the camera shows that Cheryl is below her

male lover who is still fully clothed while her legs and breasts are fully exposed. It is not

clear who the male lover is but it is made clear that Cheryl is very sexually aroused and

continuously begs for more. Within minutes Cheryl is shown dead lying in the very same

spot with her mysterious lover from moments before missing. As the call is made for

special services to investigate, the American Police officer in a Japanese high-rise

building describes her as "lying on the table like a piece of sushi." Shortly after the

discovery of Cheryl's death, the Japanese businessman refuses to assist the American

police and cancel the party on the floor below the murder scene because of the death of

"a woman of no importance."

In Rising Sun, a dowdy and unemotional white female forensics officer reveals to

the police that Cheryl may not have been murdered at all but is a sexual gasperr" who

likes to be choked when she orgasms. Bruises on Cheryl's neck indicate to the forensics

investigator that this is a habitual sexual practice used commonly before by the deceased.

Although Cheryl's life is treated as insignificant by the men of power who stand around

her corpse, her death directs the rest of the film, exposing a corrupt American politician's

wrong doing and an equally corrupt Japanese business world. In the investigation, it is

revealed that along with being a sexually deviant pervert and mistress to an Asian man,

Cheryl was an unfaithful mistress with a "back door man". When Cheryl's room is

searched by the police, a significant drug problem is also revealed along with handcuffs,

scarves, and ties on her bed. Without directly saying so, the film implies that Cheryl

was, in fact, like a piece of sushi; something to be enjoyed and consumed. The









comparison between an over-sexualized woman's body and raw fish is not lost in

translation.

The frame of the white woman as flawed and fragile is also made more significant

by the way in which Cheryl, as a white woman in an interracial relationship, is portrayed

in contrast to an Asian woman. Tia Carrere, as a bi-racial Asian female, is also shown in

the film in an interracial relationship. Cheryl's lack of decency and insignificance is

portrayed in direct opposition with the ethical, intelligent, and loyal portrayal of exotic

but elusive Tia Carerre's character. Like most Asian women in the films studied,

Carerre, an Asian woman is portrayed as the "model minority," which is a frame to be

discussed later in the Framing analysis. As a result of their affairs with Cheryl, both

Eddie and the Senator with whom she is also having sex, both end up dead by films end.

Despite her beauty and sexual appetite, Cheryl is truly a femme fatale and her death, and

the death of the men she had sex with, is treated as inevitable. What is made significant

in the storyline is not that she was killed, but that she was murdered by someone of

importance. It is also essential to note that, even after her death, she has destroyed the

lives of what are otherwise portrayed as decent men.

Ironically, the end of the film reveals that Cheryl was not murdered by any of her

lovers as suspected, but by a white American male who was concerned that her affair

would potentially damage an important business deal. Cheryl's murderer, when faced

with the truth about his actions, flees and ends up dead, too. We now see that Cheryl is

connected to the death of three very successful men. She was not only flawed herself but

she was responsible for the destruction of the lives' of men with whom she came in

contact. The demise of the three men is used to show contrast with the two main male









characters in the film played by Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. As an interracial team

of professionals, Connery and Snipes portray characters that do not fall into the obvious

pit of deception and temptation that is all around them. The portrayal of a white woman,

as in Rising Sun, as morally, sexually, and ethically flawed though beautiful and desired

by all the men around her, is common in the study of the white women in interracial

relationships in film.

The Portrayal of White Women with Hispanic Men

It is interesting to analyze how women are portrayed differently when paired with

men of a different race. Only three Hispanic males were portrayed in interracial

relationships in the films under study. All of the men were partnered only with white

women. All of the white women in those interracial relationships were portrayed as drug

addicted women with no purpose in life but getting high. The three films were: Cheech

and Chong's Up in Smoke (1978), Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980), and Scarface

(1991).

The negative portrayal of Michele Pfeiffer's character, Elvira, in Scarface (1991)

conveys a damaging image as a white, drug-addicted, frail woman married to the Cuban

man who killed her former husband. From her first moments on screen in Scarface,

Elvira is portrayed as beautiful, skinny, materialist, cold, aloof, and difficult. There is no

doubt that Al Pacino's character, Tony Montano, is the star and central character in

Scarface. Elvira is merely one of many objects that Tony acquires on his empire-

building from Cuban immigrant to a powerful Miami drug lord. When Elvira first meets

Tony, she is already married to the wife of Tony's mobster boss, Frank. Tony is a Cuban

refugee who manages to make his fortune as an assassin and a hit man for Frank, helping

Frank to increase his power in the South American drug smuggling world of South









Florida. In Scarface, Elvira quickly becomes a conquest that Tony seeks to win along

with Frank's mob power, drug resources, and money. Frank is obviously much older

than Elvira and she appears to be visibly bored by him but he "keeps" her in a lavish

lifestyle including a beautiful ocean front Miami Beach home, expensive clothes, and an

endless supply of cocaine.

A normally cool and unaffected assassin, Tony is clearly mesmerized my Elvira's

beauty and strives to impress her and gain her affection. In a scene at a night club, Frank

offers Tony the opportunity to dance with Elvira while he is trying to win Tony's loyalty.

We see again in this film, as in Rising Sun, that the men offer the women as a form of

hospitality to another man. Such a move also takes place in Pulp Fiction when John

Travolta's character takes his Black bosses' wife, Mia, to go dancing. That relationship is

also discussed later in this Frame. Elvira dances with Tony and it is clear that he desires

her. Before her relationship with Tony actually takes place, she turns down Tony's

advances, telling him flatly "I don't fuck around with the help." All this changes,

however, when Tony kills Frank and gains his wealth and power. Elvira then changes

her mind and marries Tony. In a bizarre scene, Tony kills Frank and then goes upstairs to

Elvira's room to wake up a sleeping Elvira telling her that Tony is now dead so they can

now be together. A sleepy and dazed Elvira is like a bizarre interracial twist to the

Sleeping Beauty fable. The implication is clear; Elvira, who once rejected Tony as a

lover, now accepts him because his financial and social standing has changed and he is

eligible to posses her now.

The portrayal of Elvira reaches an even lower echelon as she enters into a marriage

with Tony, the man who murdered her husband and is clearly a dangerous and mentally









unstable criminal. Elvira doesn't seem to care about this but is portrayed as accepting

Tony as her husband because he is capable of keeping her in her lavish drug-addicted

lifestyle. A beautiful scene of a lavish outdoor wedding is shown with Elvira in a white

dress and Tony in a tuxedo. Happy people celebrate as the two lovers are united.

Although life for Tony and Elvira becomes more affluent, the relationship is soon

portrayed as turbulent and painful. Tony speaks to Elvira in front of other people in a

verbally abusive manner. Now that Tony possesses Elvira, it is clear that he values her

less, like the power and fortune he now takes for granted. Elvira has no purpose in life

other than to be fuckedd" by her husband and Tony finally tells her that she needs to get a

job or find a cause, like helping lepers. Elvira ignores Tony as she struts back and forth

while Tony insults her and her dead husband. Tony is completely insensitive and cruel to

Elvira and she continues to act as if she is only concerned with her appearance and her

drug supply.

Few films in this study show how doomed the interracial relationship really can be

than Scarface. The moment in which Tony ultimately destroys the relationship with

Elvira takes place in an elite restaurant while Tony is wearing a tuxedo and Elvira is

wearing a sexy evening gown. In the scene, the image of the couple in the expensive

restaurant implies that they have clearly "made it" financially. Tony is no longer the poor

Cuban immigrant. Elvira is sitting at the table looking very thin with dark circles under

her eyes. She will not eat.

A drunken Tony berates her in a very loud voice. He says that he can't even have

sex with her because she is "in a coma" from taking drugs. He goes on to yell in front of

all the restaurant guests: "I've got a fucking junkie for a wife." The fact that she has a









junkie for a husband is left unnoted. Earlier in the film, Tony has stated that he wants to

have a family. He now refers to Elvira's infertility by shouting at her, "Your womb is

polluted." Elvira gets up saying that she can't take it anymore and then stubbles away

leaving the table and the relationship, but not before suffering endless episodes of verbal

abuse. Elvira leaving Tony is the signal that the end is near for him. He is about to lose

all his most prized possessions, including his best friend, his sister, and his life. Elvira

leaves the restaurant and the audience never finds out what happens to her after that.

Tony is shown trying to contact her and asking his employees if she has called him when

he leaves town. He instructs the employees to tell her that he loves her. The audience

never learns anything else about Elvira's fate. Was the audience supposed to care? It is

clear that Elvira is only important when in a relationship with the men in the film. She is

passed around like a football in a game among friendly adversaries.

The films previously described were in the drama genre of film. White women in

other genres are not portrayed any more favorably. The females in the Cheech and

Chong movies are also shown as motivated by drug use in a comedic approach. There is

a clear implication that white women with addictions like non-white men. In Up in

Smoke, when Cheech and Chong pick up a white buxom hitchhiker they ask her how far

she's going and she responds "all the way."

The women of the world of Cheech and Chong also seem very motivated by their

sexual appetites. Most of the films portray the white women interested in non-white men

as over-sexualized or because of what the non-white men can provide for the white

women, be it drugs in The Cheech and Chong Films or social importance in Guess Who's

Coming to Dinner.









The Portrayal of White Women and Black Men

In a column in the New York Times on April 24, 2005, Nicholas D. Kristoff makes

the observation: "For all the gains in race relations, romance on the big screen remains

largely a taboo." The negative portrayal of white women in romantic or sexual

relationships with black men is an extremely rare occurrence in American popular film.

Again, the rarity of the interracial blending of white women with black men is made more

salient by the negative and troubled way the relationship and the portrayal of the white

woman is constructed by Hollywood. As the literature review indicated, such a portrayal

takes place in a historic and cultural history of a nation with very strained race

relationships between Blacks and Whites because of the slave narratives, which have

gone before. Historically in America, white women created problems, if not death, for

Black men who were enslaved. Specific laws in America existed to keep the black man

from legally entering into sexual relations with a white woman while no such laws

existed for white men entering into sexual relationships with a black woman (D'Emilio &

Freedman, 1998, p. 13). In Reading Race (2002), Norman Denzin points out that

"America's cinematic racial order is a fractured, discontinuous system of representation"

which was created from the "historical relationship with the state" (p. 25). The portrayal

of a white woman with a black man as problematic and rare comes as little surprise.

The portrayal of a white woman in an interracial relationship as an attractive, kept,

drug user is not limited to Scarface and Rising Sun but is also prominent in Pulp Fiction

(1994). Pulp Fiction is also the last film in the study to portray a white woman in an

interracial relationship, although the study continues to cover a decade of films. Uma

Thurman's character Mia in Pulp Fiction is married to a black drug lord who is clearly

described as powerful and vengeful, and yet, because of her boredom, Wallace has









arranged for John Travolta's character to take her out for dinner and dancing. Travolta is

warned before ever meeting Mia that the last man who touched her was thrown from a

building by her gangster husband. She is clearly attractive and seductive, and Mia is

obviously interested in seducing him. When Travolta is reluctant to dance with her at the

night club, Mia reminds him that his boss told him to take her out and do whatever she

wanted. She overpowers Travolta and is portrayed as demanding in a deviant way. Mia

is shown snorting coke several times in her short part of the film. Mia, it appears, is

attracted to Travolta and is tempting him to sleep with the boss' woman. He goes to the

bathroom to talk himself out of such a bad move. Mia's husband has already been

portrayed as a vengeful mobster and Travolta's character persuades himself that Mia is

not worth the obvious sexual chemistry brewing.

While he is gone, Mia illustrates her deviance further by taking a supply of drugs

from Travolta's character's coat. Here we see how vulnerable and incapable of being

independent Mia really is. Thinking the drug she found in his coat was cocaine, Mia

snorts it while he is in the bathroom. To further her portrayal as reckless and helpless,

she has misunderstood what drug she took and she snorts heroine not cocaine. Clearly,

had she been more savvy she would not have done this and to prove how damaging her

misjudgment is she is now shown with blood running from her nose while she appears to

be in a coma. When Travolta's character finds her, she is clearly overdosing and he is in

a terrible situation. His life will be jeopardized too if his bosses' wife dies. He is forced

to save her life. In an act of desperation, he takes Mia to his junkie supplier who

dramatically saves her by stabbing her in the heart with a needle.









While presented on the surface as attractive, interesting and fun, Mia is clearly a

very morally compromised and helpless woman. She is shown as a liability to John

Travolta's character placing him in great danger. We have heard in the film before this

point how Mia's husband is protective of her and Travolta's character knows that if the

boss' wife had died of an overdose while under his care he was a dead man. Mia is shown

as being a reckless young woman in desperate pursuit of a good time. One of the most

disturbing traits of most of the white women framed in these films is that they are

careless about their own safety and blatantly disregarding their own life's value. The

implication in the portrayal is clear that they are immoral women who are thereby

deserving of ill treatment. Without the white men around her, Mia would have clearly

died because of her own bad decisions. She is clearly in the film to make the men around

her white or black, look better and to add to their importance. Without the male

characters, Mia has no purpose in the storyline and apparently could not even survive.

Not all portrayals of white women are as dramatic as Mia's in Pulp Fiction but

offer the same model of dependence and deviance. In a highly comedic approach to

white women's sexuality, Madeline Kahn is the saloon dancer, Lilly Von Shook, in

Blazing Saddles with a big appetite for the new black sheriff she was supposed to betray.

Before her sexual romp with the sheriff, we see that Lilly is a saloon dancer and singer

with a wide array of male suitors. She performs a song on stage mocking her role as a

sexual woman constantly being pursued by men singing "I'm tired, sick, and tired" of

being with "thousands of men again and again, coming and going -- and always too

soon." Her mocking of the men is used for comedy but she is portrayed as a woman who

is promiscuous and has literally worn herself out with her sexual deviance. She is also









portrayed as "untrustworthy" and she double crosses the town's leader. The mayor of the

town recruits Lilly to help him by seducing and, ultimately, destroy the new black sheriff.

Lilly is clearly a pawn in the mayor's plan to destroy the new black sheriff. As

instructed, Lilly performs her show and then invites the sheriff to her dressing room. The

sheriff, of course, cannot resist Lilly's charm and goes to see her. Lilly claims to be

curious to know it if is true what people say about black man's penis size. In a comedic

moment in the darkness she yells, "It's true, it's true" which sounds like "it's twue, it's

twue" because of her famous lisp.

Lilly is portrayed as being won over by the Sheriff s sexual powers and she later

refuses to give information about the sheriff to his enemies. The formerly bored

performer is dazed and amazed at the Sheriff s sexual prowess. She betrays the mayor

and when the local men try to get the information out of her but she will not cooperate.

The film concludes with the sheriff loving and leaving her as he literally is shown riding

off into the sunset with his white side kick character, played by Gene Wilder. Again, we

see the ambivalent ending in which the white woman is portrayed as insignificant to the

storyline. She is used merely to emphasize the masculinity of the male sheriff and as a

deviant ploy by the villainous white mayor. We never find out what happens to her

which is the most common outcome for white women in the films under study.

The white woman as sexualized and insignificant is classically portrayed in Shaft

(1971). It is very clear that the leading male character Shaft is the important focus of the

film. The white woman character, Carol, is briefly portrayed as initiating sex with Shaft

when she sees him in a bar. Carol is an attractive woman who has a tendency to touch

herself often and act seductively. In her initiation of sex with Shaft she sends her gay









male friend to tell Shaft that she is interested in him. The two men (even though one is

gay) discuss her "great boobs". After Shaft apprehends two men in the bar, the film cuts

immediately to a scene in which Carol is shown caressing Shaft's cut hand. He then tells

her he needs to go take a shower. Not to be deterred from her sexual appetite, Carol

surprises him by showing up and getting into the shower with him. The audience sees the

couple embracing and kissing behind the frosted glass shower glass door, which clearly

shows the darkness of Shaft's skin in contrast to Carol's white skin. Shaft apparently

leaves Carol in the morning to take care of business at the police station. When Shaft

returns to his apartment, he wakes a sleeping Carol up and tells her it's time to go. His

manner is clearly cold and dismissive to Carol as if she has overstayed her welcome.

Shaft calmly walks away from the bed and then picks up the phone to make a call. Carol

approaches him and says "you might be great in bed, but you're shitty afterwards". She

leaves and that is the last we see of her in the film.

Even when white women are not portrayed as drug addicted or sexually deviant,

they are portrayed as fragile and vulnerable. In the 1967 classic interracial relationship

film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, the frame of being fragile continues in the portrayal

of Joey. Beautiful, naive, and in love with an older black man, Joey surprises her white

parents by bringing her black fiance, John, played by Sidney Poitier, home. Arriving

unexpectedly from her trip in Hawaii, Joey brings John home and tells her parents that

she and John are going to be married soon. Despite the condition of race relations in

America in the 1960s, Joey is completely confused and amazed by her father's objection

to the union. She acts as if it is a complete shock to her. She announces to her parents

"He's so wonderful, you will love him in 20 minutes." Having been raised by liberal









parents, Joey is convinced (she says so several times in case the audience has any doubt)

that her parents will have no objection to John. Not only does Joey's father have an

objection to the union, John's father also has an objection. Joey didn't see that possibility

coming either. Even the black housekeeper is upset about the idea of Joey marrying

John.

Despite John's urging to "lay it on them gently," Joey ignores the mature and

scholarly John's advice saying to her mother, "I've told him 97 times that it wouldn't

make a difference to you or Dad." Joey also makes the point that John is a very

important doctor and then adds the statement that "When I am married to him, I will be

important, too." Joey states no professional or life interests of her own. Her identity will

shift from being her parent's to now being attached to John's identify. The idea that her

parents might object to their 23-year old daughter marrying a 37-year old black widowed

male who lives across the world doesn't occur to Joey in the climate of 1967 America.

Such a reality check is impossible for the delightfully cheerful and adorable character of

Joey.

The major acting accomplishments in this film clearly belong to Sidney Poitier,

Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and everyone other than Joey in this classic film. In

fact, this film was hailed as an Oscar Award winning film in 1967. The experience and

talent of Poitier, Hepburn, and Tracy is sheer filmic joy for an audience that has enjoyed

the career of each of these actors as significant to American film. The performance of

Joey flounders in the shadow of the cast around her and she is unable to appear as

anything other than a pretty accessory. Joey is demanding and refuses to accept anything

but what she wants. After much drama, eventually Joey's father gives into her wishes.









This concession has nothing to do with Joey however, but with the amazing job her

mother is able to do in changing his mind. The mother is clearly concerned that Joey will

be crushed if she does not get the support of her parents. This concern is enough to make

her parents overcome their concern for the difficulties that lie ahead if she marries a black

man. Joey gets her man in the end but not before the white and black parents experience

epiphany. At the surface, it appears that Guess who is Coming to Dinner is a tribute to

the hopeful future of interracial love in America in 1967. At a closer inspection though

the film and its Award winning attention appears to pay tribute to the career of many

great actors' capacity to act, rather than the interracial relationships basis in reality. But

if the film is about love, it is a tribute to the love shown between the white parents for

each other and their child, and the black parents and their child. Yet again, in this frame

we see that it takes a much deeper exploration to establish what is really going on with

the interaction of characters. Future frames will also examine that Sidney Poitier is the

model minority and therefore does not represent the typical black male experience in

America in the 1960s.

White Women as Insignificant

In many of the previous example of white women in film the storyline or plot

offers the audience no information about what ultimately happens to the white female

character at the end of the film. An ambivalent ending in which the audience goes

without knowing the outcome for the white women in an interracial relationship in the

examined films is the most common outcome offered. In seven of the interracial

relationships, the storyline does not include an outcome for the white women. It is as if

the woman is so unimportant to the plot or storyline that the audience does not need to

worry about her future. In Studying Contemporary film: A guide to movie analysis,









Thomas Elsaesser and Warren Buckland (2002) point out that film theorists know that

film study is "a complex" process of a medium that is not a "mere form of harmless

entertainment, and instead maintains that it is an intrinsically significant medium" (p. 2).

It is important, therefore, to consider how films create "meaning". The lack of

information about what happens to certain characters in a film is a clear indication to the

audience that the character is unimportant to the plot and to the world of the main

character.

It is also meaningful in this frame to acknowledge that only one white woman in

the films under study is married, which is the same number as the women who are killed.

Another woman is planning to get married which means that nine out of 11 women in the

study are not married. The outcome for the only remaining woman the audience knows

about is that she is gang-raped by white men. In the 36 films under study it becomes

apparent that Hollywood frames white women in interracial relationships differently than

women of color. With the exception of the character of Jean in Billy Jack, the other

white women in the films under study seem to have no purpose or occupations in society.

When John Berger made the observation in Ways of Seeing (1977), that "men act and

women appear," he may have been referring to white women only. Despite the reality

that women are an active part of the employment economy, the majority of the white

women have none in the storylines. Unlike the women of color, most white women do

not display any specific skills other than sexual skills. The white women seem to have no

sense of purpose outside their connection to the man in the film and do not work towards

a cause or dream the way most women of color are portrayed. Frequently, the white









females are portrayed having no identity of their own but only as an extension of their

male partner.

It is clear that Hollywood is reluctant to put white leading females in roles opposite

non-white males. Only eleven of the possible 540 films of the top 15 blockbuster movies

contain a white woman in an interracial relationship over a 38 year period. It is

interesting to note that this trend never increased over the decades in fact white women

do not appear at all in the last decade of the study. The white female in an interracial

relationship in the film under study were framed as being less active, skilled, or

interesting as the women of color, all of whom possessed some obvious skills. Michele

Pfeifer' s character Elvira in Scarface; In Rising Sun, Cheryl Austin; Madeline Kahn in

Blazing Saddles and Uma Thurman's character Mia in Pulp Fiction are clear examples of

this overwhelming commonality of white women. Though beautiful, their only role in

life is to be observed and act as a sexual companion to men who can afford to "keep"

them or sexually please them.

The white women's flaw or disorder is obvious to the audience in each film. The

white females are often "kept" women despite their difficult or demanding personality.

These women seem to be without family or real friends and have made life choices which

alienate them from "decent" women either because they are deviant as drug users or have

a very aggressive appetite for sex. Elivira and Mia have significant drug problems and are

frequently shown doing drugs.

This frame shows that when white women are shown in the films in interracial

relationships, they were often portrayed negatively. Sometimes covertly and sometimes

more subtly, over the past four decades it has been clear that the big screen has portrayed









interracial relationships as a negative option for white women who value their moral

character or even safety. The message is quite clear in this Frame: White women who

enter into romantic or sexual relationships are portrayed as experiencing hardship and

often social isolation in a relationship that will most likely bring family strife, death, rape

or the unknown.

All's "Fair" In Love and War: The Hierarchy of Skin Tone in the Portrayal of
Women of Color

All women of color are not portrayed in the same way even amongst their own

race. Bi-racial or fair skinned women are commonly portrayed in the films under study

as being ambassadors of good. Dark-skinned women are still portrayed as the "femme

fatale" who will bring about harm to the good, white male character. Like the Black

Widow spider, she is shown as being fatal to her lover. The lighter-skinned women

however, are portrayed more favorably. Some women of color are rarely shown in the

films compared to the frequent portrayal of Asian women in film. Not only are Asian

women portrayed in interracial relationships with white men more frequently than any

other racial group, they are also shown more frequently. Another aspect of this racial

hierarchy is that the women of color who appear in this film are also partially Caucasian.

What do Halle Berry, Lucy Liu, Yvonne Eliman, Jennifer Beals and Tia Carrere

have in common? All of these women are female actresses who have appeared in one or

more of the top 15 blockbuster films in interracial relationships since 1967. At a closer

look, however, the actresses have more in common. As bi-racial women, they are used to

portraying exotic "women of color" roles while offering very Caucasian features giving

them a classic western world beauty and appeal. The inequality of the treatment of

women in the films under study is a very subtle frame that could be missed if attention









was not paid to their racial heritage. Understanding of the actual racial heritage of the

actresses requires further study than the film itself offers the audience.

Tia Carrere, for example, is featured in both Wayne's World and Rising Sun, as

having a relationship with white males. In Wayne's World, her character, Cassandra, is

ethnically ambiguous and in Rising Sun she plays a bi-racial Black-Asian mixed

character. In actuality, Carrere's ethnic heritage as described on her official website

(Tiacarrere.com, 2006) describes her as "Filipino, Chinese and Spanish". The blend of

her racial heritage allows the filmmaker to pass her off as an Asian-black woman instead.

In both films, however, Carerre is portrayed as predominantly Asian, giving her the

"model minority status" to be discussed later. She is attractive, smart, and desired by the

men around her creating an almost mesmerizing effect. Her physical features, like the

other actresses described above, are ethnic enough to be desirable yet white enough to be

familiar to audiences. She is portrayed as smarter, sexier, and more interesting than the

other white women in the films in which she appears in an interracial relationship. In

both films, the men around her desire her. In each film, men seek her as a prized

possession.

There is a phenomena in the films under study that the majority of non-white

women on the big screen are, in fact, at least partly white or pale skinned. The more

Anglican looking the female, the more positive or prominent her character is portrayed.

We see this trend repeated over all four decades. The presence of Halle Berry in two

films in this study illustrates her popularity as an American film icon. As both a Bond

Girl in Die Another Day and a secretary in The Flintstones, we see her portrayed as a

stereotypical "Jezebel" character that uses her body and sexuality to get what she wants.









Berry is in fact a bi-racial female who was raised by her white mother when her black

father left them when she was four-years-old (IMDb). She is able to pass as a very light-

skinned black woman on the big screen. Like Carerre, fair skinned enough to be familiar

while dark enough to be exotic.

Dark Skinned, Dark Natured Femme Fatale

From this frame, we can also see that women who are dark-skinned are rarely used

in blockbuster films and, if used, for the specific purpose of making them the villainess or

"femme fatale". The only time dark-skinned women are shown in the study films is

usually in a negative role. A very masculine but sexualized, Grace Jones plays the

"Amazonian bad girl" character of May Day in James Bond's A View to a Kill. Initially

in the film, Jones is the lover/body guard/assassin of villain Max Zorin played by

Christopher Walken. May Day is later double crossed by Zorin in the film and decides

she will now do some double crossing of her own. As is expected in a James Bond film,

May Day later comes to her senses, having sex with Bond and betraying Zorin. She not

only changes sides for Bond but she also looses her life in a suicide mission to detonate a

bomb. Bond is saved but May Day dies, with her last words to Bond being "Get Zorin

for me." Even in her final moments she is portrayed as calculating and vengeful.

Tina Turner plays the "Acid Queen" in Tommy, an eccentric drug-addicted

prostitute who seduces the blind, vulnerable Tommy, sexually and with drugs at his

father's demand -- for money. She is portrayed as morally corrupt, destroying the

innocence of the blond, pale blind boy virgin unable to defend himself from her "dark"

and evil ways.

It may seem that Turner's negative role in Tommy was an era long gone. We see

however, that as recently as 2003, Queen Latifah was portrayed as a lying, black female









convict who cons Steve Martin's character into supporting her. Martin is portrayed as

vulnerable following a painful divorce. Latifah is initially shown as a tough and

tenacious black woman who is preying through online dating from prison on Martin's

naive nature. Latifah's character, Charlene, literally gets into a cat fight with Martin's

skinny, white former sister-in-law. In case there was any doubt about the progress made

for black women on the big screen at one point in the film, Charlene is actually called

"Aunt Jemima," a reference to the stereotypical "Mammy" character of American mass

produced breakfast foods. Charlene fights her way through the film defending her self

from a racist old white women and a young materialist white women. She even has to

defend herself from her former black boyfriend who framed her and sent her to jail. The

turning point in Charlene's redemption can be seen as she starts to wear her hair straighter

and wear traditional white, middle-class clothing. When she goes from looking like an

escaped convict to a Junior Service League member, the audience is signaled that all will

be well for her now that she has abandoned her "ghetto" roots.

One of the important issues in this frame is that negative portrayals of women of

color with darker skin tones perpetuate a cultural stereotype that is rarely discussed due to

its politically incorrect nature. The concern is that "negative media images of

racial/ethnic groups simultaneously provide individuals with a cultural other alongside a

representation of his/her internal fears" (Tamborini & al, 2000, p. 639). Research on

mass media programming has already shown that the portrayal of African Americans on

television remains "distorted and stereotyped" with African Americans playing "much

less prestigious roles" (Tamborini & al, 2000, p. 642). As mentioned previous, in Black

Film as a Signifying Practice, Gladstone L. Yearwood (2000) makes the connection that









in this culture, skin tone is as much political as physical: "For many people ...

blackness is less a color than a metaphor for political circumstances prescribed by

struggles against economic exploitation and cultural domination: a state of consciousness

that peoples of various pigmentations have experienced, empathized with, and responded

to..." (p. 5).

In "Nigger/Lover: The Thin Sheen of Race in 'Something Wild'," Cameron Bailey

(1988) gives significant insights into how the concept of "black" has been traditionally

associated in Western culture with "all that is evil and inscrutable. Blackness is

inextricably linked with darkness and darkness means the underworld, the fearsome, the

unknowable" (p. 32). In addition to Cameron, many other media scholars have

connected the symbolism of darkness in color with darkness in moral character. If

frames offer us a schemataa" to assess our reality, this frame indicates that the limited

concept of the binary oppositional is alive and well on the big screen. If black and white

are the binary oppositional, where one term has privilege over the other as Jacques

Derrida has established in Western culture one need not reason long and hard to

determine which reigns in this pair" (Bailey, 1988, p. 32).

The portrayal of the black women in the film exists as a fantasy type realm that

portrays the black women as spies, entertainers, and prostitutes. Of all the women of

color's characters, black females are portrayed as partially positive but mostly negative.

They are often shown, as will be discussed later, as needing to be rescued or protected by

their white male partner. Such a dynamic reflects a tradition of the black woman as

subject to the white male's colonization and conquest. Black women in the film are

shown as strong but also as angry and aggressive. They are frequently violent or use bad









language. Even the somewhat positive character of Rachel in the Body Guard as a very

successful and talented entertainer and film star, negates her positive image by showing

her as a woman who acts badly and immaturely. She is self-consumed, vain, and

ultimately needs her white male body guard to protect her from her own stupidity and

vulnerability.

The Portrayal of Hispanic Women in Interracial Relationships: Late Comers

Hispanic women portrayed in popular film in interracial relationships have only

been shown in top 15 films since 2001. Prior to that, no Hispanic women were shown in

interracial relationships in any of the top 15 blockbuster films. In Reading Race, Norman

Denzin points out that "Hispanic Hollywood" appeared to emerge between the summer of

1987 and the spring of 1988 with films such La Bamba, Born in East LA and Stand and

Deliver. Since these films did not make the top 15 of box office sales for their year of

release, they are not included in this study. These films also starred the Hispanic male as

the main characters.

Hispanic women are the most marginalized female group in this study as there are

only three Hispanic females portrayed in interracial relationship in the 38 year span of

popular films. The Hispanic female is clearly portrayed as barely visible and thereby is

given little significance in popular American film. Interestingly, the Hispanic women are

not shown with white men in any of the films under study. In Rush Hour 2 (2001),

Isabella is portrayed as the stereotypical "sassy spitfire" Hispanic woman who is a CIA

double agent who enters into a briefly shown romantic relationship with Jackie Chan's

character. Chan is the only Asian male shown in an interracial relationship in the study

which covers almost four decades. His character will be discussed more in the model

minority frame.









In addition to being portrayed as the sassy spitfire, Hispanic women are

traditionally portrayed as secondary characters such as sisters and mothers (Tamborini et

al, 2000, p. 639). The portrayal of Hispanic women in film at all is rare but has been

documented by media scholars as stereotypical and limited (Denzin, 2003, p. 32). In the

Fast and the Furious (2001), the character of Mia is portrayed as both "sister' and "sassy

spitfire". She plays the sister of the main character portrayed by Vin Diesel. She also

plays the love interest of the white undercover cop who is trying to arrest her brother for

running smuggling and armed robbery ring of crime. She is outspoken and feisty, but is

also shown as being a very loyal and loving sister.

The most recent Hispanic woman portrayed in an interracial relationship in the

films under study is in Hitch, (2005) when Sarah, a character played by Eva Mendes is

shown in a relationship with another model minority male, Will Smith. Sarah's character

is also shown as both a sister and a sassy spitfire. Sarah's character is a professional

gossip columnist who will stop at nothing to get her story. She is emotionally guarded,

revealing to Hitch's character played by Smith that her sister's near drowning as a child

has deeply affected her life. Hitch responds that this incident has come to define Sarah.

We see in this film that the Hispanic woman is portrayed as the traditional loving sister

and stereotypical sassy spitfire. Hispanic woman may finally be making it into the big

screen top 15 films but their portrayal is extremely stereotyped, as it is for other women

of color.

Amerindian Women

Women of Amerindian heritage, like Hispanic, women are rarely shown in

American popular film and, like white women, have not been shown in an interracial

relationship in top 15 blockbuster film since 1990. When Indian women are shown in









films they follow the stereotypical portrayal of Native American women as passive and

loyal to their families or tribes. In the popular film starring Kevin Costner, Dances in ilh

Wolves, Mary McDonnell's character lives with the Sioux Indians and looses her Indian

husband in battle. She is portrayed positively but also as dependent on her tribe and chief

for their permission to love a white man. In Pocahontas, the Indian Princess is shown as

very spirited and independent initially but in the end she is shown as being obedient to

the wishes of her family and the importance of her role in the tribe. In Little BigMan, the

Indian women play very minor roles and appear to serve to show the main character

played by Dustin Hoffman as more masculine. He is asked by his Indian wife to have sex

with her sisters because they are without a man of their own. The idea of the Indian

woman as benevolent and self less while spirited is offered in their portrayal setting them

apart from the portrayal of other women in the films under study. Although more

positively portrayed than most other women, the portrayal of Indian women is done in a

historical storyline or plot and does not occur in a real or current portrayal of America.

This gives the Indian woman a mythical portrayal of a world long gone. There is no

portrayal of Indian women in a modern America.

It is interesting to note that Amerindian women are all grouped together as if all

Amerindian cultures were the same. This is very common in media portrayal as the

distinctive nature of individual cultures is homogenized into one stereotype.

Asian Women in Interracial Relationships

The theme of Asian women as model minorities and sexualized or erotic women is

discussed in this and other frames. It is an obvious and interesting finding that keeps

emerging when researching the portrayal of interracial relationships in popular American

film. The portrayal of women in interracial relationships in film is portrayed as positive









or negative depending on the character of the main male in the film. For example, the

portrayal of the white-female, black-male coupling historically has been seen as a threat

to patriarchy. The portrayal of Asian-female and white-male is portrayed in a positive

way in Western media (Sun, 2003, p. 657). This is the most common racial coupling

found in the films under study.

According to Chyng Feng Sun in "Ling Woo in Historical Context: The New Faces

of Asian American Stereotypes on Television," "The pairing of a white male and

Oriental female is naturalized and has its colonialist root, manifested in the 'rescue'

narrative. In the study of films with non-white women it becomes apparent that the role

of colonization and "the West's dominance is secured through narratives of romance and

sexuality that justify white man's possession of the bodies of women of color"

(Marchetti, 2003, p. 6). In the portrayal of women in film, in issues of sexuality, race

and ethnicity, are all women created equally? Clearly not, and Asian women are

portrayed more consistently positive than any other race of woman in the findings. Also,

despite the fact that there are more white women in American society than Asian women,

this reality is overlooked in the Hollywood world of interracial relationships. Asian

women are portrayed in interracial relationships as frequently as white women and more

than any other women of color. The popularity of the Asian woman as white male

partner is actually reflected in U.S. statistical records in America (U.S. Census 2000).

Asian women in film are portrayed as smarter, more ethical, and less sexually

aggressive than their female counterparts in any other race. This is the portrayal of

women in Rising Sun, Charlie's Angels, The Golden Child, and the Bond Films in which

Asian women appear. In addition to being intelligent, Asian women are portrayed as









having a higher moral character than any other group of women. The Asian women as a

sexual or romantic partner is portrayed as a more favorable option for white men in the

films under study for all these reasons and other reasons that are discussed in more detail

in other films.

Love You to Death: Interracial Relationships on the big screen exist in a Violent
and Conflicted World

Women of color and white women portrayed in interracial relationships in the

films under study live in a difficult and dangerous world. Violence and victim-hood is a

common theme in the majority of the films in all four decades. Much research has

already been done by media scholars to show that violence in television has impacted

"reality" by "mainstreaming" violence as normalized (Gerbner et al, 1986, p. 212). In

cultivation theory, Gerbner, Gross, Morgan, and Signorelli have defined violence as

defined as "the overt expression of physical force (with or without a weapon, against self

or others) compelling actions against one's will on pain of being hurt and/or killed or

threatened to be so victimized as part of the plot" (1980, p. 213). The majority of films

under study involved the portrayal of violence that made verbal or physical abuse seem a

normal part of everyday life. Perhaps the most disturbing element of this frame is the

implication that getting into an interracial relationship could be dangerous.

Many of the men and women who have interracial relationships in the films end up

dead. Being hurt or killed is a "normalized" portrayal of a possible outcome of an

interracial relationship in film. It becomes apparent that an interracial relationship is as

likely to result in death then in marriage! For the viewer, this repeated message over so

many years offers the warning -- interracial relationships result in pain, conflict or

possibly death. This frame makes salient the undesirable nature of interracial sex or









love. The films studied use the interracial relationship as an overt or covert form of

conflict in which there is a high probability of conflict for women of any color who enter

into a union with a man unlike themselves.

The interracial relationship is framed in a fantastic world, where violence is not

only common but initiated by the woman as well as the men. Women do not use violence

merely to defend themselves. Women of color are show initiating it at times for no

apparent reason. The message here is that women of color should be treated with caution.

Even in the romantic comedy Hitch (2005), Sarah, the professional writer character

played by Eva Mendes uses violence when unprovoked. She aggressively kicks a man in

the genitals in a public street because he upset her friend. May Day and the Bond Girls

are commonly shown as using violence to get revenge or to enter a restricted area. In the

fantasy world of violence, the women with the fantasy jobs like spies or entertainers are

very aggressive and violent.

Emotional confusion or conflict was common for the women who were unsure of

what action to take, torn by conflicting choices (family or relationship), and overwhelmed

by life. These women were often portrayed as volatile and potentially or actually violent.

A smart, white male wanting to find a passive partner, might see these portrayals as a

reason to stay with the more even-tempered and even passive white female instead. The

frame shows that women of color may be beautiful but they can't be trusted to behave

appropriately in a social setting.

Violence is shown as a very normal or naturalized way for women of color to solve

problems in their world. The women of color have a tendency to be more physically

brutal than their white counterparts. Over sexualized behavior, drug use, violence, lying,









insulting their partners, incarceration, prostitution, stripping, infidelity, embezzling, and

sexual perversion are ways the women are framed as being deviant. We frequently see

the women of color swearing, fighting, and even killing. Most of the white women are

victims of violence, but are not initiators of violence like their more colorful counterparts.

The women of color unlike frail women are tough and able to defend themselves

physically, often by beating up several men at one time. In Wayne 's World Tia Curare's

character, Cassandra, is the lead singer of a rock band who stops a bar fight by using

martial arts while wearing a mini skirt and high heels. Using martial arts or violence in

this way is common in many of the movies showing the women of color who are dressed

provocatively. Queen Latifah's character Charlene in Bringing Down the House is

extremely violent, deviant, and untrustworthy at the start of the movie until she softens

later. The film opens with her lying to Steve Martin's character online as she develops a

relationship with him. She pretends to be a blonde, upper middle-class, white lawyer

when, in fact, she is an inmate for committing armed robbery. She gets out of jail and

manipulates Martin to let him stay with her in his upper class home. She blackmails him

to get her way. She later gets into a major cat fight with scene with Martin's white

former sister in law and beats her severely. Charlene is shown as a much larger woman,

when angered by racist remarks, beating the women severely and leaving her hanging on

a hook. Although initially tough and deceptive, Charlene shows her caring and

concerned side in her treatment of Martin's children. This, of course, is tainted because

she does things like teaches his son to read by giving him pornographic magazines. Near

the end of the film, Charlene gets into a dangerous fight with her former boyfriend who









has framed her for a crime she did not commit. He actually shoots her execution style as

he over powers her in a fight on a night club dance floor.

Lucy Liu as Alex in Charlie's Angels is also shown initially as a deceptive, violent,

domineering, and demanding woman who lies to her naive, white boyfriend and enjoys

beating up other people. She wears a tight, black leather suit in one scene and has a room

full of male engineers lusting after her as she whacks the desks with her cane with full

force occasionally grabbing a man by the hair like a dominatrix. She is portrayed as

intellectually superior to the other women in the film and is also portrayed as cold and

indifferent compared to the other two more congenial white Angels. Alex is often the

leader in a scenario who plays a more vital role than her counterparts. As beautiful and

intelligent as she is, she explains that her strength makes it hard for her to keep a

relationship. She complains about her relationship with men saying "They are all lovey-

dovey until they find out I can break a cinder block with my head."

Violence is included in 30 of the 34 films with nearly all of the women in danger at

some point in the film. While some are rescued, a number are not and are killed and/or

raped. For some, the abuse they receive is verbal though for most it is physical. Some of

the women are exotic dancers or prostitutes placing them in the line of danger. All of the

"Bond girls" risk being killed in their roles and a number of them are killed or very

nearly killed. In fact, they usually die saving Bond or live because he has just saved

them.

In Scarface, Michele Pfeiffer's character Elvira lives in a violent gangster world

where her boyfriend is murdered. In Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman's character Mia

allegedly caused a man to be killed for letting him give her a foot massage. In the Fast









and the Furious, Michelle Rodrigez's character, also called Mia, lives in a gangster's

world where people are constantly in fear of being killed. Gunshot breaking out at any

time is common in the gangster world of film.

Even in comedies like Austin Powers in Goldmember, Beyonce Knowles character

is held at gunpoint and threatened with being killed on more than one occasion. Being in

an interracial relationship appears to exist in a physically dangerous full of risks to

women of any color. The world in which they live is portrayed as unsafe and dangerous.

Equality in gender seems to have attracted violence as a way of showing that

women can be just as strong as men on the big screen. Media scholar Jean Kilbourne

(1999) in her book Can't Buy my love warned that the objectification of women in mass

media advertising not only demeans women, but also perpetuates the potential for

violence against women. This frame comes with the same cautionary warning. The

statistics show that women remain more unsafe in their home than anywhere else in

America. A woman is most likely going to be raped or killed by someone she is or was

in a relationship with than by a stranger (FBI, 2006) so the portrayal of women as victims

or violence contributes to our normalizing this situation. If women are almost always

victims of violence on the screen then violence is almost to be expected in real life.

If showing that violence is a normal part of everyday life is of concern, then an

additional concern would be showing the portraying of the average petite female as being

able to physically defend herself against several men at the same time. This is shown in a

number of films with women like Lucy Liu in Charlie's Angels or Tia Carrere in

Wayne's World overcoming much larger men in groups. This is an equally irresponsible

scenario to promote in the mainstream media. Even a woman with extensive martial arts









training or a weapon would be unlikely to be able to perform such a feat. Giving women

an unrealistic or even impossible portrayal as physically dangerous when violence is

initiated against them by much larger men has serious consequences in society. Violence

as a way to solve problems or emotionally express one selves is not an evolutionary step

for women in their social standing. The Civil Right's and Women's Right's movements

did not seek to make violence an equal opportunity method of communication. Showing

women as strong and dangerous to men does not make them appear more equal or free. It

also does not reflect what is in reality, a very unacceptable phenomenon of violence and

sexual violence against women and children in our society on a daily basis. This frame is

further examined in the content analysis study which offers specifics about the role of

violence in the films under study.

"Gender Benders": Women in Interracial Relationships Failure to be the
Traditional Female.

The previous frame that shows how white women are more likely to be victims of

violence, and women of color are more likely to initiate violence leads us to the next

dominant frame: women in interracial relationships in the films under study are mostly

portrayed as less feminine than women traditionally. This is an interesting frame because

if the social construction of gender portrays women as traditionally feminine when they

are: physically attractive, deferential, emotional, nurturing, and concerned with people

and relationships (Woods, 2006, p. 23), does going outside of the construct portray the

women negatively? Are they actually not "real women" when they are less feminine

because it means they are acting like men? Or does it portray them as defying tradition

and being more independent? We will examine this more closely to identify what is the

greater meaning behind this frame.









On the surface, the women in the films under study appear to initially be feminine.

All of them are physically attractive and only one woman in 36 films is overweight. But,

that is the most common, if not only true aspect of the initial portrayal of the women in

interracial relationships that meets the criteria. The traditional masculine traits of being

strong, ambitious, successful, rational, and emotionally controlled are often seen within

the portrayal of the women in the films under study. Other research on women in media

illustrates the importance of gender in media portrayal. Femininity according to Allan

Johnson in Patriarchy is tricky: "femaleness isn't devalued entirely. Women are often

prized for their beauty as objects of male desire, for example, but as such they are often

possessed and controlled in ways that ultimately devalue them" (1997, p. 167).

The women are shown as "beauty objects" and in a number of the films that is all

the women are portrayed as being. They don't have any other attributes in the storyline

than being lovely to look at and watch. So in what ways are the women portrayed as less

than feminine? The most obvious issue is that most of the women very self-consumed

and uninterested in what other people think or want. In almost all of the films, women in

the relationship are shown as being self-consumed, difficult, defiant, domineering or

demanding. Even in Guess who is Coming to Dinner, sweet and adorable Joey is

portrayed as a difficult and demanding young woman who insists that her parents accept

and even embrace her older, black fiance. As much as she claims to love her parents, she

is clear that what she wants is the most important aspect of her decision making.

It is clear in Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) that Mary Magdalene's relationship

with Christ is creating problems with his friends and followers. Despite this, Mary

played by Yvonne Elliman, continues to parade in front of them showing her devotion









and affection for Christ while disregarding what their opinion is of her, a former

prostitute. In The Bodyguard, Whitney Houston's character Rachel is a superstar rock

singer in need of protection from a perverted stalker. Kevin Costner's character, Frank

Farmer, is hired to protect her. In the beginning, she is rude and insulting to him while

frequently ignoring his advice and swearing at him. She is diva-like and acts badly to her

sister (which might have provoked her to hire the stalker and kill her) and her staff. She

is confrontational with Farmer saying "no fucking freak is going to run me off the stage".

She, of course, later softens and then seduces him. Rachel tells him, "you probably won't

believe this but I have a reputation of being a bitch." Rachel is difficult and demanding

only to later show herself as a scared woman who is terrified about the safety of her son.

Her violent bitchiness, like Halle Berry's, Queen Latifah's Lucy Liu's, and Tia

Carrere's characters, all seem to dissolve into benevolence as she is "transformed".

Although many of the white women are shown as passive in that they don't have

jobs or seem to do much, with Elvira in Scarface played by Michelle Pfeiffer, Mia in

Pulp Fiction played by Uma Thurman and the character of Barbara in Billy Jack, they

seem to be completely uncaring about what other people think about them and their

behavior. Elvira's character is openly difficult, demanding, demeaning, and almost

appears to be emotionally devoid of feeling. This could be because of the large amount

of drugs both she and Mia in Pulp Fiction are portrayed as consuming!

Conflicted or confused is another way women are framed in the films under study.

In almost all the films the women are at some point torn about what to do. They are

portrayed as not passively going along with what other people want. Hollywood films

thrive on such storylines. At the start of the films, most of the women are dreaming out