and welcome to THE UNFAIR RACIAL
CLICHÉ ALERT Response Page.
of you think that I've over-explained myself in the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT: that I've hammered home the
obvious. You get it, there is no reason why I should keep repeating
throughout the site the reasons for the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT's existence. This November 26,
2004 email from Zima Filippov demonstrates why I feel that I
can never explain it enough. For the benefit of others who still
don't understand the UNFAIR RACIAL
CLICHÉ ALERT, I'll address Zima's arguments point
by point. I'm also taking into account that English may not
be Zima's first language and so, perhaps, some things that may
be obvious to some might be subtle nuances to others.
I've just discovered your site very recently and immensely enjoyed reading
your reviews (especially Science
Moments). Great job! However yesterday I stumbled upon
your Unfair Racial Cliché Alert and that confused me a bit. I think keeping track of minority body
count in sci-fi/horror movies is an interesting idea, but your explanation
why you do that is somewhat overblown. It seems that you read way
too much into it. Reading through the list made me think of examples
of sci-fi/thriller/horror movies where minorities did not die in
I'm glad you like the site, but before we go any further,
it's probably best to explain - yet again - that this site
is a Horror, Thriller, Mystery, and Suspense website. That's
why it's calledFeo Amante's Horror Homepage (UPDATE: now Feo Amante's Horror Thriller) . I also include at the bottom of nearly every page another Feo Amante
banner that says, "Horror, Thriller, Mystery". So
this website isn't a "Science Fiction" website any
more than it is a Western, Comedy, Fantasy, or Romance website.
The only time we cover a movie that is Science Fiction (ALIEN),
Western (CURSE OF
THE UNDEAD), Comedy (EIGHT
LEGGED FREAKS), Fantasy (ARMY
OF DARKNESS), or Romance (SHAUN OF THE DEAD), is when the movie uses Horror, Thriller, Mystery, or Suspense
and/or their elements as the main theme in telling the story.
TERMINATOR is clearly a monster movie: Horrifyingly gory
and with plenty of scary thrills.
OF THE UNDEAD takes place in the Southwest of the 1800s,
but is about Vampires.
HANDS is a comedy filled with monsters, zombies, demonic
possession, and gore.
OF THE RINGS is perfect fantasy, and if it was something
as simple as an evil sorcerer battling some good guy or such,
we wouldn't touch it (We won't touch
The Princess Bride or Time Bandits. Time Bandits even has
the devil and his minions, but they are never portrayed in
a horrifying or scary way. These Horror elements are never
the main theme of the story. Various creatures are brought
into play, but never as anything more than varmints of different
fantasy races. Action also takes the place of Suspense, and
a spirit of Adventure displaces what could have been a mystery.) . But LORD OF THE RINGS is much more than Fantasy and saga. It is unquestionably a thriller. There are monsters
and ghosts and they are all deadly and kill in horrifying
ways. Throughout the books and the movies there are scares
a plenty. So, while being primarily a fantasy movie, LORD
OF THE RINGS is also a Horror Thriller movie.
OF THE DEAD is about a man trying to prove himself worthy
to the woman he loves and he does so by attempting to save
her life - BUT - He is saving her from Zombies!:
they are everywhere! Deadly, taking over, seemingly unstoppable,
clearly monsters, and they eat rather messily. I'm explaining
this now to make my rebuttals clearer later.
To everyone else who is reading this response: I'm fully crediting
Zima for her letter, but I'm also not specifically targeting
Zima for what may appear to be insulting responses (I've
tried carefully to avoid such flame nonsense). While
Zima's letter is real, it is also fair to describe it as a
representation of the many emails I've received in the past
from folks who, for whatever reason, just aren't getting the
point. This means that I won't be posting any emails from
readers who specifically target Zima by name for derision.
This person took the time to write an opinion and I appreciate
The UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT is just that: an observation of insulting racial stereotypes
in Hollywood cinema in the specific genre that this website
represents. I don't call the page the UNFAIR RACIAL LAW or
IRON CLAD RACIAL RULE. There are exceptions and I've posted
them at the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ
ALERT page. So onward.
a couple of hours and came up with this list:
1. Star Wars (James Earl Jones is the voice of
the ultimate black badass! And then Billy Dee Williams also lives
later on and lots of white storm troopers die)
things here. Star Wars has been out nearly 30 years as of
this writing and I've never heard anyone refer to it as a
Horror, Thriller, Mystery, or Suspense film. The Internet
Movie Database refers its genres as "Sci-Fi / Action
/ Adventure / Fantasy", and while imdb.com isn't always accurate, in this case they are
right. Star Wars, like many Science Fiction and Fantasy movies
(Lost Horizon, 2001: A Space Odyssey,
Solaris, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Star Trek: The
Movie, E.T., Back To The Future, Brazil, The Truman Show,
Lost in Space, and so many more) is not Horror, Thriller,
Mystery, or Suspense and will never be reviewed here. I grant
you that the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ
ALERT also doesn't apply to them, but then, that's my
point exactly. Thanks for helping me prove it.
in choosing Star Wars to qualify your point, you made some
errors in acknowledging what the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT is about. So I'd like to address
these issues not only for you but for the audience as well.
The Difference Between An Actor And A Character
When American Natives and Asian people decry people of other
races portraying their people in movies or television, their
logic is flawed. Actors aren't usually meant to play themselves
(thus they are acting). Men can play women (The World According To Garp),
women can play men (Yenta) or children (most stage productions of Peter Pan). This same reasoning crosses over into Asian cinema as well. Japanese actors play Taiwanese (Moon Child) and Chinese actors play Japanese characters
(WICKED CITY). Even
in music, Mariah Carrey is accepted as a black musician and
Michael Jackson wants to be accepted as a white musician -
at least when it suits him. This is acting and actors portray
people that they aren't. Like when Lebanese - American actor,
Tony Shaloub portrays a white man (The German in Gattaca), an Asian man (Fred Kwan in Galaxy Quest), a Greek (Kriticos
in THIR13EN GHOSTS) or an outer worldly alien (MEN IN BLACK).
regards to Darth Vader: He is no black badass; ultimate or
otherwise. Unless by black you mean his clothes, in which
case I am often a black guy; badass or otherwise. The voice
of James Earl Jones is supposed to be that of a white man.
Refer to his son, Luke Skywalker's blonde hair, blue eyes,
and white skin, as well as that of Anakin Skywalker in Star
Wars: Return of the Jedi. As well as Anakin in all three "first
episodes". James Earl Jones is playing the voice of a
white man. The logic is no different than Mr. Jones playing
the voice of Mufasa in The Lion King. He is the voice of a
lion - not a black man - same as he is the voice of a white
man, not a black man in Star Wars.
2. The Difference Between A Character And A Costume
we reviewed both PLANET
OF THE APES movies, we made note that, while both are
Science Fiction, both are also clearly Thrillers -
as in scary thrilling. Both earned the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT. There could have been minorities
dressed as various apes in the first PLANET
OF THE APES, but they weren't playing minorities: they
were playing apes. So it doesn't matter how many survived.
The audience didn't know that, beneath the chimp, gorilla,
or orangutan make-up was a minority actor. Same logic with
the remake of PLANET OF
THE APES. Granted Michael Clarke Duncan survives, but
his character isn't a black human. By the same reasoning,
Elizabeth Pena isn't playing a Latino woman in STRANGELAND. She is playing a white woman.
As far as the Storm Troopers are concerned, all you ever see
is their white body armor. Racial characteristics are not
determined by what color clothes you wear, so how do you know
what their skin color is? You don't.
2. SPHERE (Sure, everyone lives, but
still, Samuel L. Jackson didn't die [he's one of the few black dudes
that's hard to kill in any movie])
3. Catwoman (OK, she died, but then she came back and kick major white ass!)
Okay, this movie isn't Horror, Thriller, Mystery, or Suspense,
in fact, it isn't even the extra genre you include: Science Fiction.
So what are you trying to say here?
This is the second time you've proved my point for me so I'm not
sure why you are debating it.
4. DAREDEVIL (Well,
Kingpin lived, they could have killed him and kept Bullseye instead!)
PANIC ROOM (Just like in Daredavil - big bad
black man lives, but is arrested)
6. OPEN WATER (I agree, it's a stretch, I
just include it here, because in Hollywood a black man usually dies
nobly to save a white couple and here the black dude doesn't and the white couple does)
Two things to mention here. I watch an awful lot of Horror, Thriller,
Mystery, and Suspense movies, and I read a lot of the same
types of books as well. That said, neither I or any of my
reviewers have seen or wrote about PANIC ROOM. We'll get to
it when we get to it. As I've mentioned on the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT page, "there are an Awful lot of Hollywood made Horror & Thriller movies that I'm sure I haven't seen."
In regards to OPEN WATER, the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT states,
UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT
specifically applies to movies made or backed by Hollywood,
as I have not seen this "Rule Of Death" appear so
consistently in Independent movies or movies made outside
of the United States."
Whenever I have posted a movie made outside of Hollywood that
carries an UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ
ALERT, I point out that it was not made by Hollywood (CUBE, FINAL FANTASY) as
well as point out Independent or foreign films that didn't
earn it (All of Don Coscarelli's PHANTASM movies, all of George Romero's DEAD movies, ANACONDA and more).
7. I, ROBOT (In fact, it's pretty hard to kill Will Smith and he is in every other sci-fi film - MEN IN BLACK, MEN
IN BLACK II, Independence Day 4, Wild Wild West - he lives through it all!
8. MINORITY REPORT (The dude from The
Practice helps Tom Cruise in the end and lives)
seems to be happening here is that, when you do mention the
rare movie that falls into the genres I refer to, you pluck
it from the small list of movies I've already credited as "bucking the trend" regarding those movies
that do not fall into the UNFAIR RACIAL
CLICHÉ ALERT. We've reviewed I, ROBOT, which got
a SCIENCE MOMENT, but no UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT. ID4 (Action/SciFi) and Wild Wild West (Action/Western/Comedy/SciFi) are not in the genre category. You are bringing nothing new
to the table.
URBAN LEGENDS: Final Cut (There was a black security guard. I think she lived - don't remember - it wasn't a
|Thisone also falls into the category of films we haven't seen or reviewed yet. And, unfortunately, you don't remember it.
DAWN OF THE DEAD [new one] (Ving Rhames
lives. Of course it is implied in the closing credits that they
all died, but he survived the film)
regards to what a movie "implies".
In X2, it is implied that one of the major characters is dead. There is also the
subtle implication that the character might not be dead. The
same kind of situation happens in DEEP
RISING. Are the characters at the end going to die, are
dead, or merely threatened? The audience doesn't know so I
don't count it as deaths. We never gave DAWNOF THE DEAD  an UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT. While the movie shows
everything going to hell, and our heroes certainly seem to
be in great danger, we don't know if they actually survive
their ordeal. They could have made it back to the boat and
tried another island.
But I also have a theory as to why it didn't happen in this movie.
It all has to do with, what you accurately describe as, "implied".
about the over 30 years of fandom built around George Romero's
DEAD movies. Director Paul W.S. Anderson pulled an UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT in his film RESIDENT EVIL, after months of telling fans he was making a tribute/spin-off
of Romero's DEAD films (at one point
George Romero was even attached to the project and wrote a
complete script for it). The movie tanked at the theaters
and tanked BADLY! Audiences hated it and on the message
boards, more than a few pointed out how Romero would never
have killed off every single minority in one of his films.
Anderson though (who didn't get the
cliché with his films, EVENT
HORIZON or ALIEN
vs. PREDATOR) was trying to set himself apart from
Romero - for whatever his reasons (and in time, Anderson might become another of those kinds of directors
where you just never know: unpredictable. That said, Anderson,
like Romero, makes very few Hollywood movies).
So I can understand, in the Hollywood money mindset, that refusing
to kill off every minority character was a decision made specifically
because the audience they were going after, George Romero's
audience, didn't play that game. In the few movies where he
did, all the major characters died. And I've got no problem
with that either. In fact, I kind of like the idea of DotD
2004 which leaves you hanging over whether or not the movie
ends with a NIGHT OF THE
LIVING DEAD ending or a DAWN
OF THE DEAD ending: it was a very cool plot device!
11. EVENT HORIZON (I
think Lawrence Fishburne lives, also don't remember)
EVENT HORIZON is still another film that is on our exceptions
list for two reasons.
1. We never gave it an UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT.
2. It's not a Hollywood movie.
Laurence Fishburne's character of Captain Miller is dragged into that
dimension of hell where all humans are brutally slaughtered
by Dr. William Weir/or the life form that possesses him. It
is made clear in the movie that if you go there you die. Miller
But Richard T. Jones character of Rescue Tech Cooper, survives
along with one other crewmember. This is why the movie bucks
the trend, why we never gave it an UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT, and why it doesn't really apply anyway.
One more thing, why in the world are you bothering to list movies - which you claim don't get the URCA - when you admit you don't even remember? Don't you find that odd?
12. BATTLEFIELD EARTH (Forrest
Whitaker lives, even though he is an enemy psyclo or whatever...)
This is precisely why I had to explain, earlier, the difference between
an actor and the character and a character and a costume.
I was worried during the writing of that piece that I would
be perceived as talking down to you. But it had to be said
because of mistakes you made in reference to Star Wars and
EARTH. In this case, in both costume and character, Forrest
Whitaker neither represents or is costumed as a black man.
He is an alien from another world. His skin isn't even black,
Do you recall any human characters (not
just stand-ins or faces in a crowd - that LOGAN'S RUN stuff
doesn't apply here) that were black and made it to
the end? Do you recall us giving it an UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ
ALERT? No? Then nothing you've wrote so far adds to the merits
of your debate, does it? You are merely repeating what I've
already said. But it was my point, not yours.
13. Finally, ALIEN vs.
PREDATOR (The chick not only lives
- she is the sole survivor! She also brakes the Alien Saga minority
death curse [although, I think Dominique Pinon in the fourth movie
could be considered a French minority :-)] )
AVP is another movie we never referenced in the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT. So after the 13 movies you
list, 5 of them don't apply to the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT because they don't have minority
characters in them (BATTLEFIELD
EARTH). Or they either aren't Horror Thrillers (Star
Wars, Catwoman) or they aren't made in or by a Hollywood
studio (OPEN WATER, EVENT HORIZON).
regards to the other 4 that buck the trend, you seem to have
culled them from the list I already created at the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT, I'm wondering if you honestly
followed my invitation or if you simply went through my "Buck
the Trend List" and repeated what I'd already said.
My invitation still stands.
challenge my critics to go out and see 5 Hollywood Horror/Thriller movies:
any five, their choice. All I ask is that the movie have
minorities in the cast (not some quick walk on or someone in the background of a crowd scene)."
I would have been more impressed with your argument if you had
listed just 5 movies, not on my exceptions list, that you
had watched after my invitation - not just remembered. Purposefully
going through a preselected list of movies you already know
don't apply to the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT isn't honest - its cheating. It also
adds nothing to your argument.
It's no different than researchers using only that material which
supports their theory and ignoring everything else.
Many of those movies on the "Buck the trends" list you
see were reported as being the only one out of 5 movies that
my readers saw that actually didn't follow the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT. They present a counterpoint
to my argument, and I list them - because it is the honest
thing to do. A theory must be able to withstand all honest
criticism and so far in my research, my theory - which is
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT- is supported by facts. As I say, the list continues to grow,
and not just by the addition of older movies.
Also, you note that Yaphet Kotto died several times in films and in the
same time that Nightmare on Elm Street buck the trend, but I think
it is worth noting that Kotto survived and was instrumental in defeating
Freddy Krueger in Freddy's Dead. He also did not die in any sequels.
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT has never been about how often an individual actor dies in his
or her movie career or how many movies that actor has been in.
You say that Kotto
"...did not die in any sequels."
What sequels are you referring to? He wasn't in any of the subsequent ALIEN or A
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies. So how could he play a character that
died in them if he wasn't even in them?
Another thing worth noting is that not only Matrix movies buck the trend,
it is a trilogy populated by minority MAJORITY! The white folks
are very few there and most of the good guys are either black or
Asian. Bad guys are all white, aren't they? Plus the lead white
couple die in the end. How about that?!
about it? As I noted long before you on the page you
read before you wrote your rebuttal, both THE MATRIX movies and the Warchowski Bros. buck the trend. Yet again, I don't understand how you are attempting to argue against me
by using my own exceptions that I raised prior to your email.
It's like me saying
"Our store mainly sells vegetables but we also carry fruits
like apples and berries."
and you contradicting me by saying,
"That's NOT true! In addition to vegetables you also carry
fruits like apples and berries!"
Couple of more thoughts. You mention that there are 55 movies and counting
with the Unfair Racial Cliché Alert, however you list at
least 33 films by name on the same page (plus
series) that buck the trend. Man, that's more then half. I know you will probably dismiss most of my list, but
I spent less then a day thinking about it, so I think the score
could even go to 50/50! Also, even in the movies you list, imagine
the white body count...
Damn, that's a lot of corpses!
spent less than a day thinking about it? You largely culled
from my own list. Then added a number of movies that don't
even apply or that you don't remember. You are trying to support your argument with movies you don't remember! Repeating the exceptions that I've already listed
doesn't add to the number of exceptions that I've already
Actually, by my own admission, there are 23. And that number
includes comedies which aren't meant to horrify (and
exempts those which only have white folk like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN
and HAUNTED HONEYMOON). My list also leaves out the
ton of Horror Thriller movies that pretend as though non-whites
don't even exist! It also leaves out all the Horror/Thriller
movies that treat only whites as heroic while all non-whites
are evil, stupid, or laughable at best (SKY
CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW*).
At any rate, you are subtracting figures from figures - cherry
picking - instead of from the sum total. Out of 78 movies
reviewed, 55 of them carry the UNFAIR RACIAL CLICHÉ
ALERT. That's a substantial majority.
as you can see, in regards to perceived racism in Horror Thriller
movies, I took a very thin slice of perspective - I only counted
death tolls - and still came away with a majority of movies
that follow a Racial Cliché. Imagine how many Horror/
Thriller movies I could list if I included those made in the
last 25 years that only had white people. Or treated minorities
like background furniture? Or treated minorities as worthless
humans incapable of acts of heroism (except
to die in the act of nobly saving some white folk)?
So while I could be fooling myself, I'd like to think that I'm
cutting an awful lot of slack here. That said, even
going by your list - which you largely took from mine - the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT overwhelms the exceptions by more than two thirds. I thank you for the new information regarding the as-yet-to-be-seen PANIC
ROOM and URBAN LEGENDS: The Final Cut (even though you don't remember). Yet that's two movies
out of 13 that you bring to the table as new or accurate information.
And even then you're not quite sure yourself. Quite shy of the 5 movie challenge.
The white body count is immaterial if there are only white survivors.
Again, the point is that, no matter how many people get killed,
the white people survive. They can beat the odds. If there
are only white survivors at the end, then, even if white people
died by a ratio of 10 to every one minority (PHANTOMS), ALL the minorities are still dead (RELIC).
There are no more! Only white folks survived!
I will also continue to use the word UNFAIR in the RACIAL CLICHÉ
ALERT because I have the distinct feeling that the people
making these films are not trying to intentionally make a
racist statement. They just refuse to see what they are doing.
The fact that many of these movies are made by people who
consider themselves liberal and racially tolerant only adds
to my feeling.
So, in the end, I want to tell you that it's a great idea and I will
certainly keep my eye out now for this sort of thing and let you
know if I see something for this list. Just (again),
I think you read way too much into it. There are simply less minority
characters in these films and that is why the chance of them being
offed is higher. You know, when a bunch of white dudes were killed
in Resident Evil or Alien vs. Predator no one cared or remembered
- they simply blend together. Now, throw in a Colin Salmon and cut
him into bits - and everyone is talking about the death of the best
character in the whole damn thing. That's what they aim for. Nothing
You say, "There
are simply less minority characters in these films and that
is why the chance of them being offed is higher."
Your math is impossible, play Battleship to understand why.
these movies which are written, re-written, directed, edited,
and such, that was all by the merest of random chance? When
the characters die in these movies, they die by chance? The
writer, director, producers, they all have no control over
I must tell you that, while life is a chancy thing, movies
are a determined thing, usually determined by committee.>
a racist nazi joke (told to me by a Jewish friend no less)
that goes like this:
After World War II, Adolph Hitler was in South America, licking
his wounds and plotting his return. He tells a potential investor,
"When I take over the world I will murder all of the
Jews on the planet! I will also kill one clown."
The investor, surprised, asks, "Why a clown?"
Hitler leans forward with a smile and says, "You see?
Nobody cares about the Jews."
What the joke illustrates is how you can always center people's
attention on the anomaly, not the norm. An endless field of
white snow doesn't center the attention. A single coin sized
spot of bright red blood - on all of that white - does. It's
how and why the red dot of a target or bulls-eye works. If
you looked out at an endless expanse of ocean that stretched
out to the horizon, wouldn't your attention be drawn to the
single tiny column of smoke rising from that horizon?
Story tellers , directors, and movie makers in general have known
this ever since their art forms began. If you have hundreds
of adults running for their lives, focus on the baby. The
audience will suddenly have someone to feel for. If you have
hundreds of people dying in a catastrophe, have the camera
focus on a puppy. Suddenly the audience will go from watching
special effects to caring about life. The same applies to
movies like RESIDENT EVIL (Repeat: not made by a Hollywood studio). If you have a cast of 50 white people and
only one black guy, then naturally people will notice when
the black guy gets killed. Especially if you build up his
character like they did in RESIDENT EVIL. Tons of white people get killed that were nothing
more than walk-ons, zombies, and background. The UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERTwouldn't apply to them regardless
of their race.
Colin Salmon's character of One stood out. His character was built
up. He was the strong one, the leader. He was freaking number
one and in charge. He was also the only dark skin in a cast
of very white faces and his death was also the goriest. So naturally he stands out.
Story telling 101!
I'm glad you at least appreciate the idea behind theUNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT even if you still don't understand
it. Your email has made me go back to the original page and
try to make everything even more apparent.
I don't know how big the selection of Hollywood made Horror
Thriller movies is in Bishkek, but if possible, I do hope
you'll take my challenge and try to find 5 movies that you
haven't seen and that we haven't listed. Any five. Make sure
they have minorities in at least supporting roles and see
how many of those films, randomly selected, adhere or exempt
themselves from the UNFAIR
RACIAL CLICHÉ ALERT.
Public Relations Office Director
American University - Central Asia
|After reading my review of SKY
CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW, a reader, in person,
Fan: "You make racist allegations in your review of SKY
CAPTAIN and that's not fair. It was a really cool movie and,
besides, they didn't have black people back then."
I could only stare at him in speechless disbelief. Then, catching
himself, he added.
Fan: "I mean in movies back then. They didn't have black people in movies back then."
Feo: "There were black people back then, though - right?"
Fan: "Of course."
Feo: "And SKY CAPTAIN wasn't made back then when its story takes place. It was made last year when the film makers had over 60 years of history to know better, right?"
Now, after all of this you might think that, in person, I'd be
some male Caucasian bleeding heart liberal. But in truth,
many of my liberal friends find me to be a male Caucasian
who is way too conservative and far too Republican.
A fraction of those are having a real hard time accepting
the fact that I voted for George Bush. It just doesn't jibe
with their preferred mindset of how such a person should think.
I can only ask that all of you open your freaking minds to
opinions beyond your own egos and be tolerant of views that
rattle around outside of your own skull.