Video Review: Tracie Spencer “This House”

A man wears a fish mask over his head as he performs a ritual on the sand. At night, fire burns on the beach. Two bales of hay roll across the a colorful frame of a home. By the door, Tracie Spencer sits backwards on a chair and gestures with her hands. A second man pulls his little girl in a wheelbarrow on the sand.

An African-American man performs a dances in front of a single door on the crystal white sand. Spencer stands in the door frame in a t-shirt and jeans. The door opens to the ocean as she enters. A third man in a headdress performs a ritual. An Asian man leaps in the air. By the wheelbarrow, a woman drains the water from a rag and wipes her husband’s face.

The man wearing the fish mask passes another man dancing. In silhouette, a man bangs his drum while a horse runs on the shore. A young man stares down at the ground while his wife hangs laundry. A Native American woman rubs an infant’s back. A Native American man holds a baby.

In the evening, several Native Americans perform a ritual as they circle around a bonfire. The door closes.

Rating: 3/5

A Native American family lives in a suburb. Their neighbors seem surprised to see them in jeans or t-shirts. One asked if they owned a casino and the father replied that he worked as a mechanic. Their family is important to them and they take care of one another. Their rituals are sacred to them. To see the rituals appropriated in the media shames them.

An Asian man struggles during a math test. However, his peers ask him for tutoring. He explains that he’s failing and they gasp. His a second-generation American, lives on hamburgers and likes comedies. He has never taken a karate class in his life and works after school in a department store to save up for college.

A person’s culture doesn’t define them. However, cultural stereotypes exist in media and people can’t escape them. The person is thought of as the enemy or blamed for another race’s failing. They are usually thought of as “the other” and realize that once they apply for college or go in for a job interview, they are being judged against stereotypes they don’t have any control over.

Director: N/A Year: 1990

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