So, Predator. It’s a fun movie, thanks to the silly, over-the-top machoismo of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his action-movie cohorts. But the film’s racial subtext is startling.
Think about it: the eponymous villain is a technologically advanced extraterrestrial creature, sure, but also a jungle-loving savage with dreadlocks, prominent facial features, vicious and inarticulate howls, a penchant for necklaces of skulls and other bling, and labeled a predator, racialized just like so many other big black males, including the 7’2” black actor (Kevin Peter Hall) who was cast into the role. To beat this menace to society, the big white male lead, a German strongman nicknamed “Dutch” (most Aryan of nationalities), goes blackface by smearing himself with mud that conceals his body heat. The real black guys on Dutch’s team who defy the villain die quickly (so do the other whites), and apparently the Latino guerillas and villagers have failed for years to take down the predator. You gotta be an Anglo-American dude with a German accent and roided-up muscles in order to take down a Predator so blatantly modeled on the racialized nightmares of white men.