In her article “Politically Incorrect: Gran Torino and Racial Façades” from Deliberations, student Laurel Burk uses the example of the movie Gran Torino to illustrate her point about politically correct language in the modern world. She calls on the work of scholar John L. Jackson Jr. to analyze the main character played by Clint Eastwood in this movie. She uses his idea of “de cardio racism,” which is the idea that racism is not outwardly reflected in a person’s action but instead is buried in deep in their personality. Clint Eastwood’s character, Walt Kowalski, addresses this idea perfectly throughout the movie. In the beginning, Walt appears to be a terribly racist old man who constantly berates his Hmong neighbors with racial slurs. However, as the film progresses, the viewer slowly sees a relationship grow between Walt and his Asian neighbors that eventually leads to Walt sacrificing his life for them. The film’s conclusion shows how an outwardly racist man can in reality harbor a completely non-racist nature. Burk in the end connects this idea to her main point throughout the paper: that politically correct race terms and an expected outlook on race both lead to incorrect impression about people’s personal attitudes on race.

Throughout her work, Burk utilizes the analysis of a single sample and the use of an anecdote to emphasize her point to the audience. In analyzing a single sample, Burk is able to develop a strong piece of evidence to support her claim. The downside is that by going into a single example in extreme depth, she limits her argument since she can only prove it in a single case. In this paper, her design works well, but in relation to papers in Aquatic Invasive species, it may not prove to be the best strategy. Specifically, in my MWP1 the use of a highly developed example would have weaken my argument overall because I thus would not have been able to prove that my point applies to a widespread of species. Nevertheless her use of a single example works well to illustrate her point about a person’s racial outlook as opposed to how they really feel.

In her introduction and conclusion, Burk references a non-specific example of a white student feeling overwhelmed with the pressure of being perceived as a racist. By using this anecdote, she is able to pull the reader in emotionally to her point. The reader can feel the pressure on the student to say the right thing and can sympathize with how it ultimately detracts from discussion. The use of such a anecdote in scientific writing, such as is much of the writing for Aquatic Invasive Species, is often discouraged, but can help in certain writing genres. In MWP1, however, the use of such a tool would have detracted from the scientific purpose of the paper by mixing in personal feelings. Still, Burk shows that this can work beautifully depending on the genre of writing.

Overall, the different styles used by Burk compared to my MWP1 highlight the difference in genres of our writing. While she writes to show a general audience her point about an issue everyone can relate to, I write about to a more specific audience about an issue that pertains to scientists. This difference has led to a diverging in the way we both go about proving our points, and because of this, we utilize different writing strategies to illustrate our points.

One Response to “Gran Torino and Racism”

  1.   Hannah Naughton Says:

    I loved the movie Gran Torino; Therefore I read this article and agree with the points made. I think it would be so interesting to write a paper on something like this (or like the Religious Satire paper) where descriptive/opinion based writing is more necessary. also think that the MWP1 is more scholarly and directed towards a specific audience rather than the general public. However, scientific writing can also include the authors opinion, but this is formulated more as the thesis surrounding a study.