A Postcolonial Approach
1 because they make insignificant contributions to society; Hispanics are, in actuality, already perceived as an outside threat to the security of the United States.36 This reification of Hispanics is all the more troubling because Hollywood films are even used as didactic tools and a source of knowledge in educational settings. Without question, the learning about Hispanics takes place both at the multiplex and in public schools. According to Jeremy Stoddard and Alan Marcus, commercial films are widely used to teach historical events to American students. They suggest that teaching American history through these films is a dangerous practice since the stories in Hollywood films are made to accommodate ethnocentric cultural beliefs and social hierarchies.37 Moreover, this idea of the natural division of society is a common perception not only in public schools, but also in institutions of higher education. In a college study about primitivism, students were asked to describe their understanding of the term “primitive.” The responses were rather uniform and the students saw the primitive as hardly comparable to human. Students wrote that the primitive had a life attuned to basic instincts unaffected by time and history. The primitive, the students noted, lacked culture, intelligence and development; moreover, the primitive was seen as a dull, naïve and amoral savage. The conclusion of this study indicated a far more serious predicament expected in a typical academic exercise. These ideas of the primitive are, in effect, popular free-floating historical signifiers that are routinely applied to actual ethnic minorities.38...
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