Burden of Representation in Film

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------------------------------------------------- ------------------------------------------------- Representation is defined as a likeness or image of something, a definition that implies a visual component to this act. In terms of minority groups, such as women, people of color, all non-normative sexualities, the issue of representation is one that many film theorists and filmmaker’s struggle to contend with. Both the scarcity and the importance of minority representations yield what many have called " the burden of representation". Since there are so few who have the means and access to the "apparatus of representation", they are often burdened with the responsibility of "speaking" for their whole group. Furthermore, as Kobena Mercer…show more content…
While hooks believes that black women cannot identify with Sapphire as a black women when "visibly constructed, [she] was so ugly", she finds from her conversation with black women that they actually claimed Sapphire as a "symbol of that angry part of themselves white folks and black men could not even begin to understand" (97). The contrasting perspectives amongst minorities lead to further division among subaltern and makes it increasingly difficult to include the historically marginalized in mainstream culture. Mercer, however, sees this diversity as a means to combat the burden of expression, rather than an impasse in the issue of representation. In his essay, he analyzes Marlon Riggs' Tongues Untied, and the effects of the dialogic voicing that is used in the film. In Tongues United, Riggs speaks from the specificity of his own experience as a black gay male, and simultaneously illustrates the degree to which black cinema attempts to present one heterosexual voice for the entire black race. By forgoing the master codes of documentary in favor of a personal non-representative story, Mercer asserts that Riggs successfully challenges the “heterosexual presumption that so often characterizes the documentary realist aesthetic in black cinema”. Mercer further notes that by following this dialogic strategy, Riggs is able to presents a story that does not simplify or attempt
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