Race, Ethnicity and Background

One of the best displays of the untraditional family in popular culture is the Fast and Furious movie series. For many, when asked to picture family Fast and Furious wouldn’t come to mind. There is no parental unit but rather a crew of friends who have bonded together under the title of family. In the fast family, there are only two people in the family that are biologically related, Dominic and Mia Toretto. The rest of the family is formed through their interactions between the Toretto’s. For instance, the original crew consisted of the Toretto’s Dominic and Mia and their childhood friends Letty, Jesse, and Vince.

When people tend to think about family they tend to think of a group of people which share a family resemblance, religion, and backgrounds. The Fast and Furious movies put a twist on family by sharing a multitude of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds that create the fast family. Mary Beltran identifies, that the actors in The Fast and The Furious movies are from varying races, “Vin Diesel (Italian, African-American, Afro-Dominican Heritage), Jordana Brewster (Brazilian/European American Heritage), Michelle Rodriguez (Dominican and Puerto Rican), Paul Walker (European American Heritage)”. (7) While some of these races may not be distinct in the movie there are a multitude of other characters varying in heritage like Brian’s friend Roman who is clearly African American, Tego and Rico who are Jamacian and Han who is Japanese.

Ethnicity is another clear distinction in The Fast and The Furious movies. For a crew of career hijackers, you wouldn’t expect religion to be of value to the Toretto family. However, there are many symbols of religion throughout the movies. In the first movie, The Fast and The Furious, religion is first shown at the family barbeque when Jesse takes the first bite and Dom tells him he must say grace. After Dom initiates, everyone seems to follow suit and bows their head in prayer, which comes as a surprise to undercover cop Brian O’Connor. From this scene, Mary Beltran presumes that the Toretto’s are Catholic also because of the cross that Dominic wears in the first couple movies and is a key symbol through the rest of the series. At the end of Fast and Furious (2009) Brian has a cross like Dom’s hanging up in his review mirror signaling his new cultural flexibility and moral code now that he is finally trusted as part of the family. (7)

Lastly, all members of the fast family come from a variety of differing backgrounds with the similarity that most of them had criminal records before they met one another. Brian grew up in Barstow, California without a father, and started getting into trouble with his friend Roman, but eventually joined the LAPD. Dom and Mia were brought up in a low-income neighborhood with a caring father who passed away and left them with a body shop. Dom got involved in illegal street races and once served a sentence at Lompoc prison. This realization emphasizes the societal change where race, ethnicity and background are not as important as shared values when it comes to family.