Jana Evans Braziel, Assistant Professor
229B Mc Micken Hall
Department of English and Comparative Literature
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0069
Office # (513) 556-0834
Fax # (513) 556-5960
Questions and Notes for the Film La Haine
La Haine (screenplay & direction by Matthieu Kassovitz)
Issues of citizenship, immigration, migration and foreigness are often imbued with the socio-cultural constructions of good and evil by a particular society. Societies often scapegoat immigrants for a number of societal ills unrelated to the migrant populations in a specific geographical areas, issues such as unemployment and economic recession. Also, differences (of language, race, religion) between the migrant populations and the mainstream citizens exacerbate cultural misunderstanding.
Thomas Holt argues that racism is created and circulated in everyday social activities and that through these micro-political interactions, racist ideas and practices are naturalized, made self-evident, and thus seemingly beyond audible challenge. It is at this level that race is reproduced long after its original historical stimulus . . . has faded [T.C. Holt, Marking: Race, Race-making and the Writing of History, American Historical Review 100, 1 (February 1995) 1-20; qtd. by McMaster].
McMaster explains that this common sense racism attributes specific negative qualities to different racialized categories (Arabs, Blacks, Chinese) (210); for the Arab, as perceived by the French, McMaster asserts that the stereotype defines him/her as dangerous, sexually promiscuous and dirty.
In what ways does Kassovitzs characterization of the Arab, the Jew, and the African in his film La Haine (Hate) resist racist stereotypes? How, if at all, does it repeat racist stereotypes? Explain.
Why does he cast the three protagonists as an Arab, a Jew, and an African? How does this emphasize the cultural, political and social conflicts surrounding a nation and its immigrants?
How are racial stereotypes configured in the film? How are good and evil portrayed in the film? Who is good? Who is evil? How are these categories culturally determined?
How are these three main characters juxtaposed to the institutional force of the French police?
How are they juxtaposed to the white teens who are members of a Neo-Nazi gang? How does the film highlight the cultural differences in the ways that French teen gangs are treated and non-French gangs?
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