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Hollywood and the Great DepressionAmerican Film, Politics and Society in the 1930s$
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Iwan Morgan and Philip John Davies

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699926

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.001.0001

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Shirley Temple and Hollywood’s Colonialist Ideology

Shirley Temple and Hollywood’s Colonialist Ideology

Chapter:
(p.105) Chapter 5 Shirley Temple and Hollywood’s Colonialist Ideology
Source:
Hollywood and the Great Depression
Author(s):

Ina Rae Hark

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699926.003.0006

This chapter shows how the ‘Shirley Temple formula,’ namely how a little girl suffering uncertainty and hardship triumphs through her loving heart and indomitability, was applied to and subverted within limits the ‘settler genre’ of movies she made for twentieth Century Fox in the 1930s: Wee Willie Winkie, Susannah of the Mounties, The Little Princess, The Littlest Rebel, and The Little Colonel. In these movies Temple’s character can appear non-white when it suits her or is more fun, but never when it means suffering the consequences of racism. In essence, therefore, the little Shirley’s embrace of native cultures in her colonial films diverges somewhat from the unquestioning acceptance of colonialism in the Hollywood industry of the 1930s. At the same time, the privilege of her whiteness affords an escape hatch when needed and an implied superiority to the cultures of colour that renders her disruption negligible.

Keywords:   Shirley Temple, Hollywood ideology, Colonialist genre, Racism, Whiteness

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