Movies are more than a form of entrainment. They are pieces of art that express social and political problems within the culture. The Black male character and culture has not always been a predominant figure in films like they are today. The display of the African American culture in film has progressed through the years. It has progressed by the change of racism displayed on screen, the character roles, and the emergence black figures and society in motion pictures. (How racism is depicted in the films- Black face-we would see it again) With movies such as Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Shaft, Do The Right Thing, and Madea’s Family Reunion. People see the transformation of black cinema throughout the years. Films of the 60s, 70s, and 80s have significant differences from contemporary productions as the standards of culture shift in the decades. Before the audience can note the rise of black figures and standards in film. They must have recognition of the history of black cinema before its transition into the mainstream. Displays of black character roles and black culture from earlier films like Birth of a Nation (1915) and Gone with the Wild (1939) have a different representation on the view of black society and how racism was addressed in those times. In these earlier films blacks were not given main roles in cinema. Blacks Americans were typically given minimal roles and “true” to race roles such as servants, slaves, butlers and etc. African Americans did not have a
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All of this proves that Hollywood is not doing a good job in making up for the blatantly racist films of the twentieth century. Hollywood needs to do more to reverse the stereotypes of early film because such stereotypes are still seen today along with their respective repercussions.
There are hardly any films involving African-Americans that accurately represent black culture and it is something that has rarely been accomplished in the mainstream film industry. In the 30s, black film had an extraordinary presence as they were shown to large segregated audiences. However, by the 80’s black film was seen as simply comic relief with no true depictions of real life. In 1986, She’s Gotta Have It was introduced by director, editor and actor Spike Lee who wanted real people with real lives in his work. The film offers a new perspective on sexuality and the double standard that is applied to men and women. This portrayal allowed audiences to visualize African-Americans as any other race when it comes to loving one another and
While the 1970’s and 80’s marked a decline in movies featuring black actors and a lack of black directors, the mid 1980’s through the 1990’s invited a new generation of filmmakers and rappers, engaging with the “New Jack” image, transforming the Ghettos of yesteryears into the hood of today. A major director that emerged during this time was Spike Lee. According to Paula Massood’s book titled, Black City Cinema, African American Urban Experiences in Film, “…Lee not only transformed African American city spaces and black filmmaking practices, he also changed American filmmaking as a whole.” Lee is perhaps one of the most influential film makers of the time, likely of all time. He thrusted black Brooklyn into light, shifting away from the popularity of Harlem. By putting complex characters into an urban space that is not only defined by poverty, drugs, and crime, it suggests the community is more than the black city it once was, it is instead a complex cityscape. Despite them being addressed to an African American audience, Lee’s film attract a mixed audience. Spike lee’s Do the Right Thing painted a different image of the African American community, “The construction of the African American city as community differs from more mainstream examples of the represents black city spaces from the rime period, such as Colors…, which presented its African American and Mexican American communities through the eyes of white LAPD officers.”
Firstly, a brief background of Early Black cinema is important to note. In 1915 The Plantation Genre (form of genre) came about with the release of Birth of a Nation an overtly anti-black film, which included three main mythic stereotypes. These included the “unlawful slave” who represented black slaves as unpredictable, cunning and violent; this representation was used as reasoning for whites sustaining control. The “subordinate slave” stereotype, which represented blacks as dependable, loving and accepting of their position; this allowed white audiences to displace any guilt about slavery. Additionally, there’s also what is known as the “clown entertainer” which included characteristics of innate humor and the
Using the language of the moving image, which includes cinematography, editing, sound, music and mise-en-scene, this essay will investigate the ideology of Racism in film. OxfordDictionaries.com describes racism as “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” When we, the audience think of racism in film, we traditionally think of movies for adults and often overlook the sinister aspect of racism in children’s films. I have chosen to contrast a recent R-rated film with a G-rated Disney movie from the 1990s. Disney films, even up until the 1990s have persistently reinforced the image of blacks or latino and asian races as being below whites. The
In order to fully ascertain the gravity of negative archetypes, it is important to explore a common one. Donald Bogle is a film historian and lecturer at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Bogle has authored a book entitled Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks, in which he outlines a few of cinemas most infamous black architypes. The one most salient this this essay is that of brutal black buck. Bogle divides the brutal black buck into two subcategories: “black bucks” and “black brutes.”
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.
If a movie of this sort had such an emotional impact on me, it is no wonder people embraced these ideas back then. The use of new and popular media methods in those days was more than adequate in transferring the black inferiority ideas to the general public. Beginning at the early 19th century with the happy, dancing, toothless, drunken Negro with big, bold and white lips to the image of the mid 21st century African-American, the media has always used these images to convey inferiority. These images implied inherent traits in the black community. This whole community was represented in the new media as one who can not be collateralized and integrated in to society without being happily enslaved. Most of these images had great commercial values that made it all the more impossible for the rest of the nation not to embrace the African American stereotypes.
The history of African Americans in early Hollywood films originated with blacks representing preconceived stereotypes. D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, stirred many controversial issues within the black community. The fact that Griffith used white actors in blackface to portray black people showed how little he knew about African Americans. Bosley Crowther’s article “The Birth of Birth of a Nation” emphasizes that the film was a “highly pro-South drama of the American Civil War and the Period of Reconstruction, and it glorified the role of the Ku Klux Klan” (76). While viewing this film, one would assert that the Ku Klux Klan members are heroic forces that rescue white women from sexually abusive black men. Griffith
According to Tukachinsky, Mastro, and Yarchi, prior to 1930, the role of Blacks on screen were seen involving mostly in criminality and idleness (540). That role still persists until the present, with Blacks usually have to withstand to “longstanding and unfavorable media stereotypes including sexually provocative females and aggressive male thugs” (Tukachinsky 540). 1970’s movies such as The Mack, Black Caesar and Coffy have reinforced this stereotypic image of the black community. The
Over the course of approximately one-hundred years there has been a discernible metamorphosis within the realm of African-American cinema. African-Americans have overcome the heavy weight of oppression in forms such as of politics, citizenship and most importantly equal human rights. One of the most evident forms that were withheld from African-Americans came in the structure of the performing arts; specifically film. The common population did not allow blacks to drink from the same water fountain let alone share the same television waves or stage. But over time the strength of the expectant black actors and actresses overwhelmed the majority force to stop blacks from appearing on film. For the longest time the performing arts were
Between 1970 and 1980 there was a cultural film explosion, there were over 200 films released by major and independent studios that hyped major black characters and themes. Prior to the Blaxploitation era black actors had been relinquished to playing small parts that usually presented stereotyped images of the black race with roles such as waitresses or shoeshine boys. This however all changed when in 1971 when the first successful black film "Sweetback's Baadasss Song" showed a black man coming out on top over the white establishment. The term blaxploitation both helped and destroyed the genre. While many blaxploitation films were box office successes, they also fueled the public's perception of blacks as cold-hearted heroes, gangsters,
Blaxploitation movies in American society were at an all time high in the 1970’s. They gained popularity during and after the civil rights movement due to the influence African Americans were having on society. The movie Coffy, directed by Jack Hill and release in 1973, is a great example of how Blaxploitation movies reinforced the stereotypes that already exist about black men and women. Young African American filmmakers, made lots of these types of movies in order to appeal to the young African American crowd. In the article “Baadasss Gangstas: The Parallel Influences, Characteristics and Criticisms of the Blaxploitation Cinema and Gangsta Rap”, by Dustin Engels, it says, “African American artists began using their mediums to appeal directly to black audiences in an attempt to spawn cultural movements that would display and bring to the forefront the cultural, social and economic struggles of the African American experience.” The African American that was originally making these films had a positive purpose and wanted to spread social consciousness in the best way they could.
Films have the power to both influence and reflect society. The stereotypes prevalent throughout American culture are reflected in most films. While the United States is becoming an increasingly diverse country, this diversity is not portrayed within American cinema. Minority figures often occupy
Hollywood and the media continues to promote social stereotypes as the white male is portrayed as upper-middle-class professional who is family-oriented while African Americans are depicted as thugs, funny, maids, best friends, and servants. The media sacrifices objective depiction of races to gain better ratings and earnings. Further, in most movies, blacks are depicted as foolish, lazy, submissive, violent, animal-like, and irresponsible. The 1915 film The Birth of a Nation was one of the first films to feature a strong stereotype by portraying blacks as subhuman.