Race is a socially built notion whose implication has developed intensely with time and differs across various cultures globally. Cultural subgroups are depicted as the mainstream in the movie Rush Hour by Brett Ratner, and each subgroup forms a group that competes with each other. Rush Hour movie features one of the Hollywood’s most renowned executive celebrities Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker. The film realized its commercial achievement and turned out to be the seventh top earning movie in the history of the year 1998. This paper provides a critical overview of the movie, shortly discusses its plot, giving an analysis and interpretation, and analyzes the representation of the Asians by its authors. In addition, the essay makes an attempt to offer a new understanding of race-built humor.
The plot of the movie concentrates on the abduction of the daughter of the Chinese Consul that calls for Jackie Chan, dubbed Inspector Lee. He intends to seek help in the probe since it is believed that the secretive Crime Lord Juntao is responsible for the abduction. Mr. Lee finds himself united with Detective James Carter of the Los Angeles Police Department, and they slowly learn to collaborate and reunify the family along with determining the distinctiveness of Juntao. Rush Hour ruins the common Hollywood’s cultural pyramid, by concentrating on Asian-American and African-American subcultures. The movie collapses the borders existing between races. In addition, some racial philosophies are being incorporated into the discourse and actions of the characters. It verifies that the witticisms sway the audience to portray their individual racial philosophies.
The film’s intended audience is youngsters and adults who have an understanding in regard to diversified racial groups. In addition, it should be pointed out that without these racial aspects being portrayed, the movie would not be able to harvest amusement but rather crime since stereotyping particular civilizations is one of the most common issues that describe contemporary discrimination (Croteau, William and Milan 196). Also, it regularly goes unseen since customary racism contains much more open prejudice, although small scenes like in Rush Hour still have their influence. By intuitively noticing and accommodating these stereotypes of African Americans and Asians, viewers may be swayed to accept the related stereotypes. The depiction of African Americans as violent and self-protective typifies how stereotyping can be employed to influence the viewers’ feelings on certain races through exemplification.
Ono and Pham (5) declare that Rush Hour received high box-office proceeds and is regarded as one of the best-earning martial arts movies in history. Even though it is a comedy martial arts movie, it challenges characteristic Hollywood movies by featuring two different subgroups. Although these subgroups have been conventionally presented as subordinate or rogue, Jackie Chan and Tucker form the main characters in the movie. By objecting to the popular perception that the primary role unfolds someone from the overriding white culture, the film suggests the cross-racial connection between an Asian and an African American. Nonetheless, Chan and Tucker both exemplify the typecast of their specific race as Jackie Chan is revealed as a serious Asian man, although very skilled in Kung Fu. On the other hand, Tucker is seen as a tall African American, who behaves immature and appears very unwary.
By an ordinary watcher, the movie is perceived as a hilarious humor. However, if taken under a deeper consideration, the comical depictions of race may influence the viewers to reflexively accept or believe that the stereotypes represented by the main characters are factual. The movie demonstrates that race in humor simplifies and influences people to admit racially delineated features. In addition, the peculiar humor based on racial stereotypes insinuates that a previous understanding of typecasts is necessary for the witticisms make the anticipated reaction of laughter.
According to Ty and Donald (11), the historical background of the films like the Rush Hour series merges yellow Kung Fu and black jokes together. Rush Hour comprises witticisms that consist of the common prevalent views of Asians and blacks in American broadcasting that would make the yellow yellower and black blacker. Nevertheless, the strange pair is capable of merging with each other, forming a racial mixture. Rush Hour centers on the association between the Asian and African American film superstars thus stating the probability of cross-cultural identification.
As stated by Ono and Vincent (43), Rush Hour uproots the common perceptions of a buddy-cop movie and dares the rules of Hollywood movie and basic character typecast through the exclusion of the white male character in its action and depiction of race associations. By incorporating Jackie Chan along with Chris Tucker, the movie appeals to the broader audience and different viewers globally (Ty and Donald 12). Although presenting an unusual duet, the plot is based on the generally used buddy-cop scenarios. It always consists of someone in control and another as merely the follower (Ono and Vincent 43). But despite being a comedy-based movie, Rush Hour assists the audience to realize the idea of racial power in uniting its different representatives under a common goal.
Moreover, it also motivates the viewer to scrutinize movies for comedic relief in addition to social and cultural interpretation. Rush Hour presents a dream of cross-cultural identification and the notion of mixed identities for there is a union of culture as illustrated by music and plot of the film. The cross-cultural bond creates the film’s supposed objective of acceptance of cultural differences, and race-centered comedy suggests possible altering of the racial pyramid and the interrogation of racial acceptance. In a wider overview of the issue, Ono and Vincent (3) add that critics and scholars who work with texts by American and Canadian authors of Asian origins struggle to articulate the particularities of the identities of the writers being studied. Thus, there is the need to apply postmodern theories of the subject of globalization and diaspora in understanding those who have experienced displacement and dislocation. Conceptual implications of racial stereotyping should be taken under consideration, as well. Even though subgroups appear to be starring in more typical movies, a particular racial pyramid is still evident. An emphasis on the groups of whites, blacks, and Asians in an attempt to examine indirect reactions and responses to the movie’s implied stereotypes provides a wider understanding of the issue of racial stereotyping. Subgroups remain key elements used to represent negative stereotypes. However, the paradox that emerges is that these stereotypical depictions have commercial practicality. Rush Hour demonstrates this inconsistency between racism in humor and commercial success.
In conclusion, the particular humor in Rush Hour movie permits its audience to make an interpretation of cultural witticisms as inoffensive. Furthermore, it becomes clear that the comedic depictions of racial characters encourage viewers to see the little truths in racial stereotyping instead of disputing these misrepresentations. It does provoke the audience to reflect on the issue since, as a rule, when watching a humor, critical analysis is absent. It also makes the audience believe that racial differences are natural and not racially created. Rush Hour aims at teenagers and adults since they can implement the reality to racial myths and find pleasure in the ironic depictions of race.