McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Whitney Griffin

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Major and Classification

Cinema Critical Studies

Faculty Mentor

  • Ellen Seiter, Ph.D.

Department

  • School of Cinematic Arts

McNair Project

The People's Champion: Positioning the Multiracial Actor in the Action Genre

Film stars embody contemporary ideals of racial, ethnic and gender identity. The star image of multiracial actor Dwayne Johnson and his performances in Hollywood action films demonstrates Hollywood's attempt to reach the growing demographic of mixed race youth in the United States, where 42 % of youth in the 2000 Census identified as two or more races. Johnson's star image represents the versatility of multiracial actors who exhibit some of the traits of the stereotypical African-American male, a hyper-masculine, physically dominant image that could be threatening to hegemonic culture but tempered by a more humorous presentation of character, and less rigid gender definition. All of these traits are exemplified in the action genre. This star study of Johnson utilizes data from interviews, published biographies, director's commentary, and other media surrounding his success to analyze how racial identity is negotiated on screen and in publicity.