Norman Jewison 's ' The Heat Of The Night '

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Blackness in a White Cinematic Context The late 20th century brought a new form of Black representation to Cinema. During the 1980’s, Black characters in Hollywood films were put into new cinematic contexts. Unlike the Blaxploitation films of the decade, Hollywood used other “narrative and visual strategies of ‘containment’” for Black actors and characters (Guerrero 237). Hollywood films were now “giving a Black star top billing in a film in which he or she is completely isolated from other Blacks or any reference to the Black world” (Guerrero 237). In this paper, I will demonstrate through analysis of “buddy” type films, specifically Norman Jewison 's “In the Heat of the Night”, how Hollywood’s contextualization of a black character devoid this character of his “Blackness”, and ultimately places him in “a White context and narrative for the pleasure of a dominant, consumer audience” (Guerrero 237). Even though “In the Heat of the Night” was not released in the 80’s, this movie was among the first in the genre of buddy films, released in 1967. Sidney Poitier played the main character Virgil Tibbs, who is wrongly accused of murder, and upon disproving those charges, helps the Chief of Police, Bill Gillespie solve the murder. This movie comes off as progressive for its time, because Virgil Tibbs, a black man, is the main character, but in actuality, Virgil Tibbs is put into a White context. He is constructed “as the object of “the look” for the pleasure of the dominant

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