Producing “Ideal Natives” via Tourism, Hollywood, and Historical Writings
Throughout most of the twentieth century, Hawaii's tourism industry has over-promoted Hawaii as a safe place for visitors to experience paradise. Unfortunately, they accomplished this by emphasizing docile and sexualized Native bodies. Most commonly, the tourism industry used sexualized images of Hawaiian women to sell the islands while the Hawaiian man was simultaneously rendered nearly invisible. When they were shown in tourist and Hollywood productions, Hawaiian and other Polynesian men were often portrayed as submissive, content, nonresistant Natives. This chapter traces the development of the submissive and compliant Hawaiian male label to show that these emasculating portrayals not only defined the imagined boundaries of Hawaiian and Polynesian manhood prior to the 1970s, but also served to justify and validate colonialism—or more specifically, justify the overthrow of Hawaii's sovereign kingdom and seize Native land in a so-called decolonizing era. Redefining Hawaiian male identities also undermined the sociopolitical significance and very existence of Native Hawaiian men, as they were rendered insignificant characters in productions about Hawaii. Twentieth-century Hawaiian surfers often battled these externally imposed definitions of Native men with direct and visible resistance. They rejected passivity and replaced presumed submission with obvious assertion.
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