Monday, November 9, 2009

Dangerous Minds

In the article, Dyer is arguing that when it comes to television and films, the representation of whites is "everything - white is no color because it is all be everything and nothing is the source of its representational power"(142). In other words, whiteness can take form of anything, and is "coterminous with the endless plentitude of human diversity"(145). Implying that this representation is more of a power assertion, Dyer goes on to say that minority portrayls in the media, particularly those of African Americans, are consistently presented as the 'Other' and reduced to stereotypes that include "disorder, irrationality, and looseness"(145).

Perhaps an example of this would be the film Dangerous Minds, in which a white teacher is responsible for a class of unruly minority students. As the film progresses, she is depicted as positively influencing the kids and changing their chaotic ways. In doing so, Michelle Pfeiffer's character exemplifies some of the qualities that Dyer associates with 'whiteness': "order, rationality, rigidity" (145).


  1. This is a really good example. There are so many movies that have used the white saviour/teacher cliche like blackboard jungle or freedom writers, even being spoofed in High School High. Why are there so many movies about heroic white teachers working in inner-city public schools and inspiring their mostly black and Latino students? Why dont we ever see similar movies about teachers of color who do the same?

  2. Ooo, i just posted my blog about Half Nelson.

    Elyse, to answer your question, I dont think it would be as effective if teachers of color were all of sudden to save a group of white kids. I think we go into movies expecting certain stereotypes about characters.

    If we were to see a colored teacher fixing up bad white kids, it would seem strange to us immediately and it wouldnt be as influential.