Vampires of Color:
A Critique of Multicultural Whiteness
This chapter explores whiteness’s purported expansion through multiculturalism after Civil Rights and the Immigration Act of 1965. By yoking the inclusivity of multiculturalism and exclusivity of whiteness, multicultural whiteness sustains white privilege without acknowledging it, granting conditional or provisional inclusion to select nonwhite groups. It becomes a performative category (“white-identified-ness”) questioned in films like Blacula (1972), Ganja and Hess (1973), Martin (1976), Fright Night (1985), The Lost Boys (1987), Near Dark (1987), Interview with the Vampire (1994), and The Addiction (1995). Classical Hollywood whiteness is transformed by greater emphasis on so-called national values—individualism, consumerism, patriotism, secularism, and willful amnesia—that sustain foundational myths of a nation of immigrants, land of opportunity, and beacon of democracy. Within the proliferation of representations of a multicultural United States, films question limitations on political representation for anyone not identifying—or being identified—with whiteness, including so-called white trash.
Blacula (USA 1972; dir. William Crain)
In AIP’s Blacula (USA 1972; dir. William Crain), figurative slavery of Satanism from Hammer’s films is reworked as actualslavery of the Middle Passage and enduringslavery of institutionalized racism in contemporary Los Angeles. Set in Transylvania during 1780, Blacula opens with African prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall), requesting Count Dracula (Charles McCauley) end Europe’s slave trade. Count Dracula refuses, enslaves Mamuwalde with an insatiable thirst for human blood, and locks him in a coffin outside of which he leaves Mamuwalde’s wife Luva (Vonetta McGee) to die. The sensational story redirects attention from US racism to eastern Europe’s so-called backwardness and fall to Communism. The film acknowledges chattel slavery as part of US history. (134)