Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Sociology (Applied), PhD
Gast, Melanie Jones
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
Brooms, Derrick R.
Smith-Jones, Siobhan E.
controlling image; film; intersectionality; Obama; racism; white savior
This dissertation analyzes how black characters across twenty movies released in the years 2006-2018 inspire, coach, “save,” or “rescue” other characters. Studies on “savior” characters in film tend to focus on white savior characters who seek to “save” people of color from harm. When comparing black characters and white saviors, I find that black characters use three specific strategies—revolution, vigilantism, and altruism —to help other characters. The characters who use the revolution and vigilantism strategies seem to be what I call “black saviors” who work to fight against institutional and systemic racism to save the black diaspora. Altruistic characters seem the most similar to white saviors. I end by discussing my findings and their connection to past literature on race, class, gender, and colorblindness, and I discuss implications for social change.
Jordan, Eric A., "Exploring black "saviors": a content analysis of black characters and racial discourses in Obama-era films." (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3500.