Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood, 2008) draws attention to the cultural differences between people living in a working class neighborhood in Michigan. An ideology of multiculturalism is promoted as Walt, a heterosexual white man, moves past his prejudices and forms a relationship with his Hmong neighbors. It promotes this ideology, however, without challenging hegemonic white masculinity and has an underlying theme of natural white superiority, as Walt takes on the role of a white savior for this cultural Other..
When Walt Kowalski sees the Lors, a Hmong family moving in next door, he says, “what the hell did these Chinks have to move into this neighborhood for?” This comment echoes the beliefs of extreme right wing new nationalism “defined
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It also suggests that until people stop regarding cultural differences as a negative thing and begin to see it as one of society’s strengths, there will continue to be conflict. In addition to racial differences, gender differences are a major issue in Gran Torino. In the film, the majority of the lead characters are male, with the exception of Sue. The women who are in the film are mostly portrayed as weak and following typical gender roles, such as when the Hmong women are serving Walt food at the barbeque or shown bringing food to his house. The only purpose Youa serves in the film is becoming Thao’s girlfriend, which is to help him become more manly. Sue stands out from the other women as being strong, outspoken, and independent. When she is harassed by the group of African American males, she stands up for herself and calls out one of the guys as “another asshole who has a fetish for Asian girls”. However, Walt still needs to step in and protect her when she is not strong enough to physically fight them off. She also needs to be rescued by Walt after she is attacked and raped by Spider and his gang. The fact that Sue, despite her fearlessness, must rely on a man to protect her promotes the idea of women’s inferiority to men. This conception is reinforced through Thao, who is