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Understanding LovePhilosophy, Film, and Fiction$
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Susan Wolf and Christopher Grau

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384512.001.0001

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False Racial Symmetries in Far From Heaven and Elsewhere

False Racial Symmetries in Far From Heaven and Elsewhere

(p.37) 2 False Racial Symmetries in Far From Heaven and Elsewhere
Understanding Love

Lawrence Blum

Oxford University Press

A familiar trope in many Hollywood films dealing with race is a symmetry between white and black with respect to some aspect of racism—both blacks and whites are shown to be prejudiced, or discriminatory, or using stereotypes of the other. Generally, this symmetry is false or misleading, as illustrated in Far From Heaven, a 2002 film set in the 1950’s. An upper middle class housewife begins a romantically-charged friendship with her black gardener. Her social set disapproves of this relationship, and the film nicely portrays the racism of these well-bred Northerners. But it also shows the black community similarly disapproving, and ultimately running the gardener out of town by throwing stones through his window. This alleged racial symmetry—both blacks and whites viciously oppose a black-white romance—is entirely false to the period in which the film is set. Other films exhibiting or not exhibiting false symmetries in relation to interracial relationships are also discussed.

Keywords:   Far from Heaven, interracial relationships, racism, racial symmetry

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