Keanu Reeves and the White-washing of Hollywood

I Am Hapa

Recently, I was reading Hernan Vera and Andrew M. Gordon’s Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness. The book is excellent and I highly recommend it. With one caveat: Keanu Reeves isn’t White.

I say this because in chapter 3, “The Beautiful White American: Sincere Fictions of the Savior”, Vera and Gordon examine the White savior complex that is so frequently found in American films. Movies like Indiana Jones, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the Matrix are a few of the films that they critique, and for the most part, rightfully so. The movies do focus on a white male protagonist who swoops in to save the helpless people of color from the clutches of other whites or in some cases, the aliens. This trope is beyond problematic, but in the attempts to identify the issues, the authors incorrectly label Reeves as a White man. He is actually hapa–of native Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, and English…

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