Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

Sociology, MA

Committee Chair

Brooms, Derrick

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Marshall, Gul

Committee Member

Marshall, Gul

Committee Member

Smith, Siobhan

Author's Keywords

White Savior; Magical Negro; racial project; racism; film


This thesis analyzes how four blockbuster movies released in the years 2000-2014 represent racial projects. Racial projects encompass anything that helps people understand race. Films are racial projects because of their racist portrayal of characters. Films can be used to train audiences to view race in various ways that may contribute to problematic colorblindness. Specifically, the “White Savior” and “Magical Negro” tropes are ways through which films tell the viewers what to expect from White characters and characters of color. Viewers walk away from these films having constructed a racialized schema about White and Black characters, which further supports the notion that films are racial projects that inform people's views of certain races. Not only are films racial projects, but White Saviors are more obvious, while “Black Saviors” are far less obvious. This privileges Whiteness while subverting Blackness, perpetuating a slave-master narrative that has been common throughout America's racial history.