Race, Exoticism, Ethnography

Monstrosity, in the scope of race, ethnography and exoticism, can be identified by the othering of peoples and cultures in order to make them appear subhuman. King Kong is a prime example of depicting a race as a source of monstrosity, as it presents two levels of horror that relate to race: the first one being the natives on Skull Island, and the second being Kong himself. To the white protagonists, King Kong is depicted as even more foreign than the human other, resulting in not only a trespassing on the idea of a physical safety, but also a disruption of the cognitive norm for Americans. Similarly, in Vathek, Beckford presents two kinds of mingling foreignness within the location of the Orient. Vathek himself represents the Orient with which Beckford is attempting to familiarize his readers, while the Giaour is foreign even to the cast of characters in the novel. This layering of otherness results in an inability to know the boundaries of what is foreign. Both of these works include an attempt to document a foreign environment, but each encounter an element that cannot be fully understood. This leaves the characters and the audience with an anxiety that is rooted in the knowledge that there will always be an undiscovered other, an “unknown.” This fear of the unknown, the abjection associated with exoticism and foreignness, and the spectacle of the ethnographic monstrosity are the key themes that we explored and scrutinized within our collection of monsters, investigating as well the layering of fear in association with this ethnographic exoticism, this spectral ‘otherness,‘ for which we construct barriers of ignorance for our own protection. Our monsters originated from the dark depths of this implicit cultural alterity, and they emerged in the form of Godzillas and merciless Native Americans, as murderous urban legends and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to wreak havoc and incite fear in the cultures of the world.

All our monsters can be found under the tag “Race, Exoticism, Ethnography.”

A clickable list of our monsters is also below:

The Asag



Jack Torrance in The Shining

Jafar in Aladdin

Kaiju – Japanese Culture & Fandom

Monster From Green Hell

Monster of House of Leaves

The Mummy

Native Americans

No-Face in Spirited Away

Scar in Lion King

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Works Cited

Austin Spence, The Mummy (1932)

Cowie, Suzie, and Tom Johnson. The Mummy in Fact, Fiction and Film. Jefferson: McFarland, 2002. Print.

Said, Edward. Orientalism. London: Penguin Books Limited, 2003. Print.

Scurry, Samuel. “Orientalism in American Cinema: Providing a Historical and Geographical Context for Post-Colonial Theory.” MA Thesis. Clemson University, 2010. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.

Smith, Stuart. “Unwrapping the Mummy: Hollywood Fantasies, Egyptian Realities.” Box Office Archaeology: Refining Hollywood’s Portrayals of the Past. Ed. Julie Schablitsky. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, 2007. 16-33. Print.

Striner, Richard. Supernatural Romance in Film : Tales of Love, Death and the Afterlife. Jefferson: McFarland, 2011. Print.

Blondell Glover, Monster from Green Hell (1957)

Benshoff, Harry M. “Blaxploitation Horror Films: Generic Reappropriation or Reinscription?” Cinema Journal 39.2 (2000): 31-50. Print.

Burnham, Philip. “The Ethnographic Zoo.” Transition 60 (1993): 184-91.

Koven, Mikel J. “”Have I Got a Monster for You!”: Some Thoughts on the Golem, The X-Files and the Jewish Horror Movie.” Folklore 111.2 (2000): 217-30. Print.

Monster from Green Hell. Dir Kenneth G. Crane. 1957. Film. 18 November 2013

Rony, Fatimah T. “King Kong and the Monster in Ethnographic Cinema.” Rpt. in Teratology. 157-91. Print. 18 November 2013

Elizabeth Ames, Jafar (Aladdin)

Aladdin. Dir. Ron Clements & John Musker. Walt Disney Home Video, 1992. Film.

Blauvelt, Christian. “Reel Bad Arabs.” Jump Cut. 50 (2008): n. page. Print.

Shaheen, Jack. “Aladdin Animated Racism.” Cinéaste. 20.1 (1993): 49. Print.

Towbin, Mia Adessa, Shelley A. Haddock, Toni Schindler Zimmerman, Lori K. Lund, and Litsa Renee Tanner. “Images of Gender, Race, Age, and Sexual Orientation in Disney Feature-Length Animated Films.” Journal of Feminist Family Therapy. 15.4 (2004): 19-44. Print.

White, Timothy R., and J. Emmett Winn. “Islam, Animation, and Money: The Reception of Disney’s Aladdin in Southeast Asia.” Trans. Array Themes and Issues in Asian Cartooning: Cute, Cheap, Mad, and Sexy. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1999. 68-76. Print.

Emily Saus, House of Leaves

Bemong, Nele. “Exploration # 6: The Uncanny in Mark Z. Danielewski’s “House of Leaves” Image&Narrative. N.p., Jan. 2003. Web. 20 Nov. 2013. <http://www.imageandnarrative.be/inarchive/uncanny/nelebemong.htm&gt;.

Danielewski, Mark Z. House of Leaves. London: Pantheon, 2000. Print.

Mackenthun, Gesa. “Haunted Real Estate: The Occlusion of Colonial Dispossession and Signatures of Cultural Survival in U.S. Horror Fiction.” American Studies 43.1 (1998): 93-108. JSTOR. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. Eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford UP, 1999: 833-44.

Hami Park, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Cobb, Nora O. “Behind the Inscrutable Half-Shell: Images of Mutant Japanese and Ninja Turtles.” The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS) 16.4 (1990): 87-98. JSTOR. Web. 08 Nov. 2013.

Falkof, Nicky. “Heroes With A Half Life: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles And American Repression Of Radiophobia After Chernobyl.” Journal Of Popular Culture 46.5 (2013): 931-949. EBSCO MegaFILE. Web. 22 Nov. 2013.

Grosz, Elizabeth, ed. “Intolerable Ambiguity: Freaks As/at the Limit.” Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body. New York: New York UP, 1996. 55-66. Print.

Kinder, Marsha. Playing with Power in Movies, Television, and Video Games: From Muppet Babies to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Berkeley: University of California, 1991. Print.

Lewis, George H. “From Common Dullness To Fleeting Wonder: The Manipulation Of Cultural Meaning In The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Saga.” Journal Of Popular Culture 25.2 (1991): 31-43. EBSCO MegaFILE. Web. 22 Nov. 2013.

Janae Brooks, Candyman

Balasopoulos, Antonis.“The Demon of (Racial) History: Reading Candyman.” Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism 5 (1999): 25-47. Print.

Briefel, Aviva, and Sianne Ngai ‘”How Much Did You Pay for This Place?” Fear, Entitlement, and Urban Space in Bernard Rose’s Candyman‘, The Horror Film Reader, 2000. Print.

Kuhn, Andrea. ‘”What’s the Matter, Trevor? Scared of Someting?” Representing the Monstrous Feminine in Candyman‘, Erfurt Electronic Studies in English, 2000. Web.

Sollors, Weiner. Neither Black Nor White Yet Both: Thematic Explorations of Interracial Literature. First Harvard University Press, 1996. Print

Madison Mornhinweg, The Shining and Native American Genocide

Blakemore, Bill. “The Family of Man”. The San Francisco Chronicle Syndicate, July 29, 1987.

Mackenthun, Gesa. “Haunted Real Estate: The Occlusion of Colonial Dispossession and Signatures of Cultural Survival in U.S. Horror Fiction”. Amerikastudien / American Studies, Vol. 43, No. 1, Media and Cultural Memory (1998), pp. 93-108. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41157353

Room 237. Dir. Rodney Ascher. IFC Films, 2012. Netflix.

Tallarita, Andrea. “Beyond Genocide: Stanley Kubrick’s Revisitation of Pagan Myth in ‘The Shining’”. Pop Matters, April 4, 2013. Web. November 20, 2013. http://www.popmatters.com/feature/169539-beyond-genocide-stanley-kubricks-revisitation-of-pagan-myth-in-the-s/

Mardiatu Mustapha, The Asag

Black, Jeremy A., Anthony Green, and Tessa Rickards. Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary. Austin: University of Texas, 1992. Print.

Cohn, Norman. Cosmos, Chaos, and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993. Print.

Kramer, Samuel Noah. The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character.[Chicago]: University of Chicago, 1963. Print.

“The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.” The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013

Wakeman, Mary K. God’s Battle with the Monster. A Study in Biblical Imagery.Leiden: Brill, 1973. Print.

Olivia Chang, Scar (Lion King)

Wong, Vicky. “Deconstructing Disney’s The Lion King” Kinema Journal University of Waterloo. Web. 18 Nov, 2013.

Roth, Matt. “The Lion King, A Short History of Disney Fascism” Jump Cut a Review of Contemporary Media (1996) pp 15-20

Doane, Ashley W. “While Identity and Race Relations In the 1990s” Perspectives on Current Social Problems Pp. 151-159 (1997)

The Lion King. Dir. Roger Allers & Rob Minkoff. Walt Disney Home Video, 1994. Film.

Paola Ruano, Spirited Away

Douglas, Mary. Purity and Danger; an Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. New York: Praeger, 1966. Print.

Macwilliams, Mark Wheeler. “History and Nostalgia in Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.” Japanese Visual Culture: Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008. 256-73. Print.

Napier, Susan J. “Matter Out of Place: Carnival, Containment, and Cultural Recovery in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.” The Journal of Japanese Studies 32.2 (2006): 287-310. Print.

Spirited Away. By Hayao Miyazaki. Studio Ghibli, 2001. DVD.

Paul Cotler, Native Americans

Bright, Brenda Jo. “Ethnographic Film and the Popular Imagination.” American Quarterly Vol. 50 (1998): 183-191. Web.

Deloria Jr., Vine. “Custer Died For Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto.” Ethnographic Fieldwork: an Anthropological Reader. Ed. Antonius C.G.M. Robben and Jeffrey A. Sluka. 2nd ed. West Essex, United Kingdom and Malden, Massachusetts: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012. Web.

Dimond, Vernon Scott. “Eloquent Representatives”: A study of the Native American Figure in the early landscape of Thomas Cole, 1825-1830. January 1, 1998. ProquestWeb. 20 Nov. 2013.

Rony, Fatimah Tobing. The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle. Durham and   London: Duke University Press, 1996.

The Searchers. Dir. John Ford. Warner Bros., 1956. Film.

Raamiah Bethea, Godzilla

Godzilla. Dir. Roland Emmerich. Perf. Mathew Broderick and Jean Reno. 1998

Lees, J. D., Marc Cerasini, and Alice Alfonsi. The Official Godzilla Compendium. New York: Random House, 1998. Print.

Noriega, Chon. “Godzilla and the Japanese Nightmare: When “Them!” Is U.S.” Cinema Journal 27.1 (1987): 63-77. JSTOR. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Siegel, Mark. “Foreigner as Alien in Japanese Science Fantasy.” Science Fiction Studies 12 (1985): 252-63. Jstor. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.Raamiah Bethea

Kira Rentas, Kaiju

Allison, Anne. “The Japan Fad in Global Youth Culture and Millennial Capitalism.” Mechademia Vol.1 (2006): 10-21. Print.

Levina, Marina, and Diem-My T. Bui, eds. Monster Culture in the 21st Century: A Reader. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013. Print.

Napier, Susan. “The World of Anime Fandom in America.” Mechademia Vol.1 (2006): 46-63. Print.

 Pacific Rim. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. Perf. Idris Elba, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, and Charlie Day. Warner Bros, 2013. Film.

Vartanian, Ivan. Killer Kaiju Monsters: Strange Beasts of Japanese Film. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.


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