How Hollywood and Media Make Race in "Postracial" America
How media have bolstered and encouraged the figment of a threatened white populace
In Imperiled Whiteness: How Hollywood and Media Make Race in "Postracial" America, author Penelope Ingram argues that in the Obama-to-Trump era, a variety of media platforms, including film, television, news, and social media, turned white identity into a commodity that was packaged and disseminated to a white populace. The book emphasizes how media in its myriad forms coopted a postracial narrative, making whiteness a disenfranchised commodity and vivifying white nationalist and neo-Nazi movements on the alt-right. While fully recognizing the covert centrality of whiteness to postracial discourses, Ingram challenges existing scholarship to argue that discourses of the postracial era have enabled the rise of an overt white identity politics, a sense of solidarity among white people, including those who espouse liberal or progressive political views.
Ingram explores the convergence of entertainment, news, and social media in a digital networked environment and traces how media’s renewed attention to “mainstream whiteness” has propelled a resurgence of rabid white nationalism. Reading popular film and television franchises (The Walking Dead, The Planet of the Apes reboot, and the Star Trek reboot) through the contemporary political flashpoints of immigration reform, gun control, and Black Lives Matter protests, Ingram demonstrates how media buttressed and exploited an affective experience among white audiences—a feeling or sense of vulnerability and loss. Ingram also explores how contemporary Black filmmakers utilize speculative fiction to intercede in and disrupt this shifting racial landscape, through an examination of Jordan Peele’s films Get Out and Us, and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.
"Imperiled Whiteness is an insightful and much-needed interrogation of whiteness and white racial identity in contemporary US popular culture. It offers not simply an assertion that much of US pop culture centers on white folks, but a nuanced exploration of how whiteness itself is constructed, negotiated, and reconstructed in response to shifting cultural and political contexts."- Russell Meeuf, author of White Terror: The Horror Film from Obama to Trump