nmadison.A3.140 - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Openshaw...

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1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Openshaw WRIT 140 20 October 2011 Political Issue of Race “Every black person is the story’s protagonist” (Johnson). A contradiction of this statement is presented when a racist black man named Abel Turner is the antagonist in the film Lakeview Terrace. The director Neil LaBute, displays the conflicts that arise from racism in the film when an interracial couple moves into the neighborhood. Turner’s harassment of the couple and disapproval of their relationship eventually escalates into violence, which unfortunately results in his death. While the film intends to communicate to an audience of elite conservative whites, it shows racism as a societal problem spanning all the way from a liberal to a conservative spectrum. The ambiguity of the overall message arises when the director employs a twist by having a black, rather than a white person, represent the conservative perspective. Conservatives view liberal’s proposed solution to racism as reverse discrimination, which causes political policies such as affirmative action to inspire controversy. Although people used to perceive racism as whites discriminating against blacks, LaBute’s film and many other writers show how racism has changed and that people of different races can hold the same intolerant view. Understanding racism is crucial in terms of modern society’s concern over political matters. While intended for a culturally conservative white audience, the political message of Lakeview Terrace moves beyond superficiality; a deeper reading reveals a contradiction by reversing the expected political perspectives held by blacks and whites to address how the conflict of racism remains unresolved in modern society.
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2 With evidence that racial equality exists in society today, racial attitudes have transformed from the traditional view that whites discriminate against blacks to that of acceptance of blacks. Some whites recognize this acceptance through interracial marriage such as with the couple in the film, Lisa and Chris Mattson, who are represented as a very happy, stable family. The film uses this couple to address an audience of white cultural elites who tend to see interracial marriage as morally uplifting. These conservatives view blacks as inferior to whites and therefore recognize interracial marriage as downward mobility. Chris Mattson moral character is tested by the disapproval he endures as a white man by “constantly taking shit from black guys about [their interracial] relationship”. He is portrayed as extremely accepting of blacks through his marriage to a black woman, which shows an overall demise of cultural prejudices. In addition, rather than depicting the stereotypical poor, single black woman, Lisa is from a wealthy family and exemplifies how African Americans have become financially equal to whites. Many neighbors express the rising social status of blacks in society when the couple hosts a welcoming party. One of their friends says, “your dating the big time, you hit an African
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nmadison.A3.140 - 1 Madison Nina Madison Professor Openshaw...

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