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Ignorance, Racism, and the Hollywood Gaze



In March 2023, an academic essay by Senior Fellow Noam Schimmel titled “Distorted Representations of Rwandan Tutsis in American Popular Culture: Ignorance, Racism, and the Hollywood Gaze” was published in Peace Review, a Journal of Social Justice.

This essay examines early musical, dance, and film representations of Rwandan Tutsis in American popular culture. It illustrates how these representations distort Rwandan and Tutsi heritage, history, and culture and reflect a range of prejudiced, discriminatory, and racist attitudes toward Africans in general and Tutsis in particular in the United States and the West more generally.

What is more, the essay examines how Tutsis and Rwandans continue to be misrepresented in American popular culture today in movies such as ‘Hotel Rwanda,’ which distorts the history of the genocide and how the Tutsis experienced it.