Hollywood 's Outrigger Canoes And Pacific Indigeneity : A Comparison Of South Pacific ( 1958 ) And Waterworld

1547 Words Sep 30th, 2014 7 Pages
Hollywood’s Outrigger Canoes and Pacific Indigeneity: A comparison of South Pacific (1958) and Waterworld (1995)

Throughout its existence, Hollywood has sought to draw audiences’ eyes with drama, beauty, and above all, exaggeration. Because of this, major films have frequently been subject to accusations of exoticism, and of perpetuating racial and regional stereotypes. Steve Rose of The Guardian writes, “…movies are teaching children the finer points of racial prejudice before they 've even learned to read” (Rose 2014). But is the situation truly so dire? A closer examination of Hollywood’s big hits is necessary. A comparison of two films in similar settings, one from 1958 and the other from 1995, provides a unique perspective: the ability to see how film representation of canoe culture has changed through time, and how both films’ representation of canoes and compares to canoes’ significance and role in Pacific culture. The 1950s in America were known for many things – post-war affluence, the spread of middle-class values, and social conformity, including racial conformity (Dirks 2014). Hollywood in 1958 was no exception. During this “Era of Epic Films,” and while white racist terrorism raged in the South, onscreen racial diversity was not respectable. 1958’s South Pacific depicts a US Navy-held South Pacific island during World War II. The the film focuses on Navy officer Nellie Forbush, who while stationed overseas falls in love with wealthy French planter Emile…
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