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Unity through story-telling

Unity through story-telling

Issues related to race and beliefs can effectively maximise unity via creative narratives – and film is a powerful contemporary alternative. By Samantha Gan Phui Yee (BMCC2014111)

The existence of films has shaped various norms in society especially in the current era where major motion pictures are impactful to daily life; which makes watching films a popular culture particularly in the Hollywood scene. Although watching films are widely accepted by public, it is undeniable that there are complex consequences that can instil into minds through representation of media.

Being an important medium, films are usually narrated based on racial or cultural experiences which questions the credibility on how true the film is in reality. Thus, it is essential to discover the conventions of racial films and how these films reflect social realities, particularly on behaviour towards different cultural backgrounds.

Firstly, it is crucial to explore and understand the term “multiculturalism”. With the increasing population of mixed races and migration, the majority race in the country will experience a greater amount of people from other races being permanent residences or citizens. Henslin (2009) explains that “The minority groups are able to maintain their separate identities, yet participate freely in the country’s social institutions,” of which it will be regarded as an ideal community coming from unique backgrounds. Currently, the ideology of convergence is undeniably emerging. Therefore, convergence in cultural understanding is steadily becoming crucial in multiple ways of life context.

There are various films directed emphasising on cultivating cultural roots over the years but The Hundred Foot Journey (2014) proves this by converging two opposing values through cooking. The film features an Indian family moving abroad to Europe in establishing their restaurant as the main character, Hassan Karram is highly regarded as a good cook. Opening the restaurant located directly opposite a prime French cuisine, there were a few disagreements between the two owners. After several incidents of arguments, Hassan starts to learn about French cuisine and converges it with Indian cookeries. It is then both parties unite and agreed to each other’s culture which boosts the popularity of both restaurants. In the end, it is not about being the better cook but what mattered most was the outcome of their creative combinations.

Consequently, this applies to social realities in Malaysia as well. It is possible to live in a multicultural community peacefully without any forms of insecurities and prejudice. One way to foster unity ties would be through films such as The Hundred Foot Journey, particularly when Malaysia can be considered as the ‘food hotspot’ for both locals and tourists.

Moving along these lines in time to come, it is likely that the term minority will cease to exist in society. Although clear negative racial representations in film can destruct multicultural ideologies, at times it can be deduced as a matter of joke and inoffensive. Park et al. (2006) reinforces that audience interaction with racial stereotypes does not signify agreement or disagreement to racial ideologies. In such ways, films with good and bad racial represented objectively can merge and form another genre of narrative categorizing as multicultural.

If a picture can paint a thousand words, films are definitely capable to connote so much more in justifying social realities. As a result, one of the most effective way to enforce multicultural ties would be through films.


Henslin, J.M. (2009) ‘Race and Ethnicity’. Essentials of Sociology A Down To Earth Approach. 8th Ed. New York: Pearson.

Park, J.H., Gabbadon, N., & Chernin, A. (2006) Naturalizing Racial Differences Through Comedy: Asian, Black, and White Views on Racial Stereotypes in Rush Hour 2. [Online] P 157-177. Available

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