Film Review of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle


So I finally got around to seeing Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle recently, on DVD. I know, that probably makes me the last person on earth, or at least in this hemisphere. While conducting a post-viewing Google on a rather pointless question (being Hindi-challenged, I wondered exactly what Kumar and the shopkeeper were saying in Hindi when he asked for directions—anyone?), I stumbled across a rather pointed review of the film by Shama Rangwala in the June 2006 issue of Scope, an online journal of film studies. Like many reviews of the movie, it refers to how this flick from the stoner/road trip genre manages to challenge racial stereotypes. But it doesn’t stop there, offering up an analysis of Harold and Kumar’s racial and class identities, and in the process providing one answer to the question—Why did Harold and Kumar go to White Castle?

The desire for White Castle stems from a television advertisement that explicitly hails Harold and Kumar. They want “the perfect food,” and as if in response to their request, the advertisement starts: “Don’t you like food that’s tasty and delicious? Then what are you waiting for? Head over to White Castle. It’s what you crave.” Kumar points to his chest, responds “I do” to the advertisement voiceover’s questions and allows himself to be interpellated into the position of consumer. He wants to be like everyone else—the white mainstream—addressed by this advertisement without having to think about his racial position. Thus the decision to go to White Castle is not an original one; while Kumar attempts to resist interpellations into the racial position of Indian doctor, he embraces the interpellation into the position of a (raceless) middle-class consumer. In this light, we can read the journey to White Castle as a struggle for the erasure of race in cultural identification.
December 5, 2006
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