I wrote this after watching Fast & Furious 6. I never posted it. I suppose now is a good time. RIP Paul Walker.
Fast and Furious (F&F) is the only film franchise with a majority non-White cast to have an national (and international) following. Consider that films with majority non-White casts are often marketed towards niche audiences, and many assume that these casting decisions inherently make a movie a “Black” movie, or an “Latino” movie (see the recent hoopla around Best Man Holiday as a “race-themed” movie). Although there are a few films that feature a majority non-White cast that garnered a national and international following (e.g., Rush Hour), but I believe that F&F is the only franchise (i.e., multiple films) with an ensemble cast (i.e., ≥ 5 major characters) to accomplish this.
Most importantly, the characters do not rely on race. The entire movie could be produced using an all White cast, or an all Asian cast, and the narrative would barely change (aside from a few race-based jokes); this makes me happy. In the wake of Fast Five (2011), there was a discussion about the racial composition of the cast, and many were quick to note that although the main characters were of color, they were also a cast of lovable criminals, thus reinforcing stereotypes of criminality within communities of color. Furthermore, the fact that the main characters are not White makes it easier and more believable for other characters to disregard their potential and instead draw on stereotypes about the quality of their criminality; “They’re just common criminals.”
I was consumed by issues of race in F&F, until a friend mentioned “I liked that the women could drive.” It was a delightful observation about the counter-stereotypical presentation of gender in the film. Throughout the franchise, women have always had very impressive road skills. There is no “damsel in distress,” a helpless female character who cannot drive. Driving is the great equalizer in F&F, and although women are still contextualized as love interests, they are considered to be indispensable members of the team.
I have seen the past 3 F&F films in the theater, and I am thoroughly committed to the franchise. I never expect an Oscar-worthy film, rather a wonderful source of entertainment that features a cast of characters that is as diverse as my friends and family, along with awesome cars, explosions, and ridiculous stunts. I understand that some may not understand the value of seeing people that look like you onscreen, but my research demonstrates that not seeing members of your race onscreen increases negative mood. Furthermore, although the symbolic annihilation of gender does not have the same effects on mood, it can affect our social schemas, and change what we expect from life itself. In the end, what I appreciate most is the intersectional nature of F&F: men and women of all colors and nationalities with a common goal, each with a unique contribution to this rag-tag family.
As I approached the bus stop, a man was walking past; he was in his mid 20s in a heavy canvas coat and a wool cap with ribbons twisted into his hair. It’s cold in Syracuse, so I’m wearing my heavy coat buttoned all the way to the top. He looked at me and smiled.
HE: Hello! ME: Good morning.
He abruptly stops walking and looks at me. After an awkward moment, he smiles again…
HE: It’s getting a tad bit nipply! ME: Wow! That’s inappropriate.
He pauses, looking puzzled, as if trying to figure out how it is inappropriate.
HE: Did I just sexually harass you? ME: No, but… kinda. HE: I’m just gonna keep moving. ME: Yeah.
Subculture as we know it is dead, and its all the internets fault.
Before you brand me as some guy who’s “gotten old and doesn’t get it anymore”, please, tell me what youth-driven subculture exists now that is as substantial as rave, grunge, punk etc and etc (and by subculture I mean something that is multidimensional; not posting “intel inside” animated gifs from 1998 on your tumblr.)
Interesting post. Although I would say that we only understand subcultures after they have gone mainstream, so technically you (directed towards the author, and anyone else reading this post) shouldn’t be aware of a subculture. The fact that the author believes that there is no subculture is an effect of the internet, which creates the assumption that we can (and do) know everything that exists everywhere at all times.This post is an excellent example of classic American narcissism: If I don’t see it, if it’s not on the internet, if it is not meme’d, it doesn’t exist.
Furthermore, the expectations that subcultures should adhere to some specific formula is shameful and only blinds individuals to the subcultures that are all around them. In LA, there is a underground revival of 80s and 90s metal among Mexican teens; I don’t see it on the internet, but I see it on the bus. Get out there and look, don’t just assume that subcultures will appear on your newsfeed… then it is no longer a subculture.
“Unless parents are multiracial, they cannot understand the experience of their children despite being in mixed marriages." (Mengel, 2001. Rethinking Mixed Race)
2 points: (1) We are. (2) Positive stereotypes are still stereotypes and still categorize individuals thus disregarding the individual. However, with the sudden surge in the multiracial population, most people don’t recognize there was a time when multiracial was not automatically defined as beautiful. You were caught between traditional mono-racial norms, and there was no one that looked like you in culture or media. The phrase “multiracial children are beautiful” became popular when I was in high school, and I clung to it because it was the only time people seemed to acknowledge I was pretty. Multiracials have a long history, and it was only about 30 years ago when the American Psychological Association stopped recommending that they just “pick one” to avoid the associated psychological distress, a phrase commonly referred to as “the tortured mulatto.” I do not disagree with the author’s frustration with the stereotypes, or strangers’ willingness to say stupid things to her children based on their appearance alone, but it is important to recognize that there there were multiracial people before your children, and we all deal with it in very different ways.