In Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s Monster Culture (Seven Theses), one of his central theses states that one component of a monster is its depiction of that which is different (7). Meaning that we classify those who are different, whether it be culturally, racially, or economically, as monstrous. Sadly, in contemporary movies that display monsters, this still holds true. For example, historically Native Americans have been the victims of an ongoing slanderous campaign. There are no shortage of movies, particularly old western movies, in which directors paint Native Americans as dangerous, almost subhuman, lacking humanity, whose only characteristic is their affinity for being exceptional warriors. As seen in the movie The Last of the Mohicans (1992), the Huron tribe reflected the bloodthirsty and greedy stereotype. Although there is a good characterization of Native Americans, in the case of Chief Chingachgook and Uncas, I highly suspect it is because they hold close ties with “Hawkeye,” who they adopted into their tribe. Uncoincidentally, he is the hero and main character, and to no one’s surprise, a white man. Despite the fact that Magua, the principal “monster,” collaborates with the French, his ties to white men are superficial, and therefore a separate entity of wrongdoing. He is irredeemable of humanity because his interests do not directly benefit whiteness in any way. In contrast, Uncas and Chief Chingachgook’s actions directly helped the British and Hawkeye. The movie reflects general cultural attitudes in which anyone who does not fit the standards of masculinity and whiteness becomes warped and dehumanized on and off the screen.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Culture (Seven Theses). 1996. University of Minnesota Press.
Mann, Michael, director. The Last of the Mohicans (1992). 20th Century Fox, 1992.