Essay on Taking a Look at African-American Cinema

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The United States has long been a country that has accepted that change is a necessity for prosperity and growth. However, each change within the nation's history was hard fought against those who resisted such change either through racism, bigotry, and blatant discrimination. African American cinema is enshrouded in history that depicts these themes of racism, struggle, and deprivation. Yet, this same cinema also shows scenes of hope, artistic spirit, intellectual greatness, and joy. Black actresses, actors, directors, producers, and writers have been fighting for recognition and respect since the great Paul Robeson. The civil rights movement of the 1950's and 60's was fueled by black cinema through films like A Raisin in the Sun.…show more content…
Often in many films that undermine African Americans, they are depicted as thief's, murders, or unintelligent. These images are used to show that African Americans are unlike their white counterparts. According to Friedman, "This formulation undermines the racially and sexually based violence toward African Americans, wiping out the memory of rape, castration, and lynching of slaves that occurred in the past" (Friedman). The development of African American films, or films that truly put African Americans in any type of positive light did not really start to occur until the 1970's or 1980's. Before then films were often negative in spirit. Paula Massood describes the Hollywood depictions of African Americans in the previous era as, "failing to recognize the sociopolitical changes in the American landscape. African American characters most often appeared within a southern setting, largely ignoring the black city space and culture that figured in the lives and the imaginations of a vast majority of African Americans" (Massood). However, in the following years the development and progression of African American films was able to be seen. First, it is important to note that black films do not necessarily need to have black directors. Arguably, one of the most comedic black films is none other than Coming to America featuring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall. Directed by the same individual that made the iconic college fraternity movie Animal
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