Racial Representation In The Film Hairspray

1249 Words5 Pages
Eliza Wright and Morgana Yellen
Prof. Salois
14 November 2017
Hairspray: Racial Representation in Production and Contemporary Contexts
Abstract: This essay seeks to explore how the 2002 Broadway production of the musical Hairspray depicts and produces inclusivity in American life in both modern and contemporaneous periods. The point of view set up in the show emulates the concept of a “white savior complex” in its efforts to showcase the perils of black people in the entertainment industry in the 1960s, along with minimizing the responsibility of white people in the systematic societal racial structure. Despite these shortcomings in historical accuracy in its overly-optimistic portrayal of segregation, Hairspray gave explicit, designated opportunities to black actors to be highly featured in a Broadway production. And unlike other shows during its time, it ultimately brought up conversations of segregation and racism in the entertainment industry in a time where these issues were seldomly addressed.

Background - Brief summary of musical, Historical context
Thesis - While Hairspray may portray the Civil Rights Movement in a simplified and somewhat glorified way, it ultimately provides modern day actors of color an opportunity to be casted in theatre, a white-dominated field.
Simplification and Glorification
“White-saviour complex”
The black characters remain silently docile in the background until Tracy, a white character, becomes the

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