Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



Racial stereotypes in American films have reflected our society’s dominant ideologies and have influenced our belief systems since the film industry began. As social constructs shift and cultural norms change, so do the representations present in cinematic productions. This study is looking closely at the African American Civil Rights movement in the United States and how, and if, it correlates with changing representations and stereotypes of African Americans in film from the late 1960s to today. I begin by recognizing traditional representations of African Americans and identifying their use in two films in particular, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) and its contemporary remake, Guess Who (2005). To compare the representations and stereotypes present in these two films, I employ a combination of content analysis and ideological criticism. My data shows that traditional representations are either removed or are racially reversed and attributed to the adverse racial group in an attempt to dismiss their use and offer new concepts and visions of racial equality.