Halloween, The Foundation of Minority Paranoia
Hands smacking the table, “Paranormal Activity” is the scariest movie since “The Exorcist “(1973); it’s the classic of the millennium, a renaissance of horror at the movie theater. My roommates and I believe PA to be the avatar (of fear) so much so, that we have made a tradition around Halloween and PA. We spend the week of the new release watching the previous chapters, along with other scary classics. Tonight the third installment of the series opens in showplaces across the nation and I’m concerned about whether I can enjoy the movie as a person of color. After watching PA2 on Tuesday, I noticed some problematic dynamics between the predominantly white cast and their Latin@ nanny, Martine. In America, you can’t even experience a good thriller without being reminded that you are still over determined by whiteness.
Off the top, the fact that Martine only speaks Spanish throughout the movie is not a coincidence; to be real, it helps to empower her difference, a difference reminiscent of a colonized view of the world. Behind such a view there are two distinct subjects that are incapable of having the same characteristics. Therefore, Martine’s singular, Spanish-speaking character provides the perfect base to layer stereotypes and implications. She’s that superstitious, voodoo powder-spreading, yet simple-minded lady that could corrupt your precious white kids. Indeed the belief in superstition foils the ideal hero—the “rational” white male—who can recognize the complexity of the world’s phenomena, instead of being gullible enough to fall for mysticism.
Spanish, then, symbolically comes to represent the language of the spirits, to be in relation with something (demons and ghost) that threatens a mediocre life of rationality—nice house, fancy cars and diamonds. Even though Martine is called upon to repossess Kristi, her advice about a séance doesn’t cease the paranormal activity but redirects it. We are presented with the reflexive remorse of white imperialism: more should’ve been done to deprive people of color of their spirituality. I wonder if the third movie will revisit this remorse…