Gender Portrayal Of The Mammy And The Mulatto Child

1712 WordsMay 21, 20177 Pages
It’s evident that black performers in Hollywood cinema are customarily depicted as unpleasant based on the clichéd roles they play, for example: the mammy, the promiscuous character, or the angry black woman. Within this paper, I will incorporate Bell Hooks idea of “The Oppositional Gaze”, and Marina Heung ideas discussed in the article "What 's the Matter with Sara Jane?” Daughters and Mothers in Douglas Sirk 's "Imitation of Life”. The film of focus is Imitation of Life (1959) by Douglas Sirk, the film will be analyzed, but I will scrutinize representation of black female characters within this film; in attempt to verify if this portrayal of the mammy and the mulatto child is a positive reference for black females in cinema (because they…show more content…
Attempts to stop black people from gazing produced a desire to look, which resulted in an oppositional gaze. Hooks alluded to this stance when she stated, “Mainstream cinema has historically forced aware black female spectators not to look, and much feminist film criticism disallows the possibility of a theoretical dialogue that might include black women’s voices” (Hooks, pg.125), the “gaze” has a form of opposition for black female in regards to film. The film Imitations to Life (1959), explores the life of a widow Lora Meredith along with her hopes of becoming a Broadway actress. She meets Annie Johnson after she lost her daughter (Susie) at the beach, Johnson is a black single mother who also has a daughter called Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane inherited her father 's fair complexion, and utilizes her European heritage and features to pass for white. Because of Annie 's Kindness, Lora provisionally invites Annie and her daughter to stay with her, but Annie convinces Lora to allow her stay and take care of the household. Eventually, Lora becomes a star, but Lora 's focus on her profession inhibits her from spending time with her daughter. Sarah Jane is struggling with her African-American identity and wants to pass for white because of its privileges in American society in the pre-civil rights era. Sarah Jane completely dismisses her black

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