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Gran Torino’s Boys and Men with Guns: Hmong Perspectives

Author(s): Louisa Schein | Va-Megn Thoj

Journal: Hmong Studies Journal
ISSN 1091-1774

Volume: 10;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: Hmong | Asian American Studies | Race Relations | Film Analysis

This article discusses the Clint Eastwood film Gran Torino in the context of American popular mis-representations of Hmong and from the perspectives of the film‘s Hmong actors and viewers. The analysis begins from the images of Hmong as ―perpetual warrior, ferocious killers ill-fit for American society, and docile fresh-off-the-boat foreigners needing help and protection by white saviors. The bulk of the article presents an interpretation of the recent box office hit Gran Torino radically different from contemporary mainstream response which has centered on Eastwood‘s character and viewed the film mainly as a vision of multicultural inclusion and understanding. This alternate ―ethnotextual approach, reflecting the conversations of a Hmong studies anthropologist and a Hmong filmmaker/activist, includes the perspectives of Hmong involved in creating the film and considers critical response to the final product within the Hmong community. Despite a script that called on them to portray violent gangbanger and hapless Hmong immigrant stereotypes, Hmong actors encourage us to value their creativity in shaping the film through enacting certain roles, no matter how conventionalized, and to expose the film as a white man‘s fantasy.

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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