Fast and Furious About Race
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Talk about a “race” issue. It turns out Furious 7 — the seventh installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise (whew!) — boasts a massively non-white audience.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, 75 percent of the audience for the fuel-drenched film’s opening weekend was comprised of non-white folk. This despite the main star being the late, and white, Paul Walker (who in 2013 died in a tragically ironic car accident):

Hispanics, the most frequent moviegoers in the U.S., made up the majority of ticket buyers (37 percent), followed by Caucasians (25 percent), African-Americans (24 percent), Asians (10 percent) and other (4 percent).

Beyond Furious, readers of the Variety variety have noted an interesting thing about horror films: Hispanic audiences love them. The Paranormal Activity franchise and its freaky found footage-style filmmaking has been so popular among this portion of Americans that the most recent installment, dubbed “The Marked Ones,” was produced precisely with a bi-cultural audience in mind.

Eric Diaz of marketing agency Nativa described the result as a “very diverse Hispanic group watching in terrified delight.”

These films are of course considered tacky fodder for a largely apolitical audience. They don’t contain the gravitas and Social Importance of say, 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, or The Butler.

But then according to, again, the Hollywood Reporter, every one of those films had a whiter audience than Furious. Indeed it was “about 43 percent for 12 Years a Slave and 55 percent for The Butler.” Furthermore, “some of the top-performing theaters for both films are in white suburbs.”

White suburbs. Odd that films deemed crucial to overcoming America’s racial divides would attract a largely white audience. At least a lot whiter than Transformers: Age of Extinction, which put more black, brown, and probably Belarusian butts in seats than Django Unchained ever could.

And it’s not like the CEO of Starbucks has made any public pronouncements about the importance of warrior robots, or anything.

But I‘m just doing the requisite snark thing. The fact remains that the amount of sanctity officially heaped on to the notion of race in movie matters is unwarranted.

Still, note the either implied or explicitly expressed idea in these barrage of articles about melanin and moviegoers that it “pays off” to have a multiracial cast:

“Someone that I admire quite a lot recently said this is a franchise [Furious] that really looks like America, and there are characters that everyone can relate to,” Universal’s president of domestic distribution told the Hollywood Reporter.

That’s a lovely sentiment, but it’s clear from the stats that multiracial audiences don’t require a multiracial cast. This is something largely assumed by an (incidentally) white press. The first Paranormal Activity was just as popular with Hispanic audiences as the last one. And this trend will continue into the next film, even if it takes place on a space station (which could happen). Diaz of Nativa gets it:

Throughout the movie it did not feel as though I should be watching this because it is a Latino movie. It was simply a good, scary movie, and that, at the end of the day is what Latinos want to see when they head to the theatre.

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