For your second paper (2-3 pages), you will examine how a seemingly benign trope in cinema becomes racist even if the director/actors does/do not realize it. You will examine one film (from the approved list of films below) and explore how the trope that doesn’t appear racist on the surface (to many average viewers) transforms an otherwise non-racist film into a racist one.

How does this trope work in the film to maintain the status quo even if the film has been seen as revolutionary in terms of race and/or showered with awards? To this end, you must examine the “magical negro/minority” trope or the “white savior” trope in a film, but make sure that the trope you pick actually appears in the film about which you are writing. Think of this as a way to challenge the dominant reading of a film while exploring the ways in which race, language, and narrative intersect to undercut the message that a film seems to say on the surface.

You also need to use at least two quotes that come from two different outside, ACADEMIC sources that pertain to either the film or the narrative trope about which you are writing. That is, the quotes you include should come from peer reviewed journal articles or books published by an academic press.

Below is the approved list of films you can use for your second essay.  If you want to use a film not on this list, you need to contact me first.

Crooked Arrows


The Green Mile

American History X

Dances with Wolves

The Help

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Last Samurai

Django Unchained


The Last of the Mohicans

Monster’s Ball                         

Beasts of the Southern Wild


Cloud Atlas

12 Years a Slave


District 9

Song of the South


Freedom Writers

Gran Torino

The Matrix

The Darjeeling Unlimited


Forrest Gump

The Shawshank Redemption

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