Clint Eastwood's feature film Gran Torino (2008) represents an ongoing site of cultural struggle from the perspective of Hmong Americans, not only because of issues around the portrayal of Hmong culture and society, but also because of the very fraught politics of the film's production process itself. This collaborative piece stages conversations and critiques so as to be stylistically consistent with the ensemble nature of film production, bringing together the voices of a Hmong antiracist media activist, a white academic in media and Hmong studies, the Hmong lead actor from Gran Torino, and a Hmong PhD student in English. With special attention to how regimes of gender and sexuality manifest racial and ethnic hierarchy, the piece asks questions about the consequences of hypervisibility for Hmong Americans who have been chronically silenced and invisibilized, and interrogates the counterpointing of Eastwood's character, Walt, and his normative white masculinity with two dysfunctional immigrant masculinities—that of the effeminate, childlike geek and that of the hyperviolent and transgressive gangster. The piece proceeds to read Hmong cultural production and critique as racial struggle which entails a queer response that would go beyond exclusively textual readings of alternative masculinity to refigure racial engagements beyond conventional binaries of hyposexual versus hyperviolent, and beyond queer as antimasculine.
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Research Article| August 01 2012
Beyond Gran Torino's Guns: Hmong Cultural Warriors Performing Genders
positions (2012) 20 (3): 763–792.
Louisa Schein, Va-Megn Thoj, Bee Vang, Ly Chong Thong Jalao; Beyond Gran Torino's Guns: Hmong Cultural Warriors Performing Genders. positions 1 August 2012; 20 (3): 763–792. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-1593537
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