Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee is a controversial film maker known for is powerful films such as She’s Gotta Have It, School Daze, Malcolm X, and 25th Hour. Spike Lee isn’t afraid to talk about the real issues that goes on in the everyday lives of African Americans. Lee has shown a willingness to tackle prickly issues of relevance to the black community- and has savored every ounce of controversy his films invariably produce (biography). Major themes in his movies have a lot to do with police brutality on African Americans, racism, and Spike Lee wasn’t going to define black life in terms of crime and poverty. He wanted to raise awareness or at least let it be known what’s really going on in the black community’s.
The rise of Blaxploitation films such as Coffy revived the social problem films of the 1940s, but instead introduced new representations of race and gender as well as the drug crisis of the 1970s. Despite the progressiveness of Blaxploitation films in relation to previous films such as Birth of a Nation–where black characters were exploited through flat, racial stereotypes for the enjoyment of white audiences–they also thrived on the exploitation of evolved black stereotypes of the 1970s; Bogle’s “black buck,”1 characterized by violence and insatiable sexual desire evolved into the 1970s “pimp daddy,” thriving through hustling women, selling drugs, and sending hits when necessary. The representation of black women in films followed a
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek” Barack Obama. The question is always asked does the media reflect the reality of society, or does society try and imitate the reality shown by the media? There are a number of stereotypes associated with African Americans in our society such as African American men are athletes, rappers, criminals, deviant, streetwise, uneducated, and unemployed just to name a few. African Americans in the media have changed through the years. The history of African Americans on TV or minorities in general is hampered by the racial conflicts and segregation that are embedded in American society. Historically, black actors have been grouped stereotypically and assigned to comedy. This has often been traced to the genre of black minstrelsy that was popular in the early 20th century.
Redefining Black Film by Mark A. Reid is the book I’ve selected for the mid-term reading report. This book is an eye opener learning experience as well as a beginning guide to understanding African American film, filmmaking, actor/actress and directors. Mark A. Reid discussed the challenges and obstacles African Americans faced during the turn of the century up and through the civil rights movement of the Sixties including the focus on feminism in black cultural production . Redefining Black Film fits in the history of filmmaking as it relates to the ground breaking movements of African Americans in film as well as production process. The acceptance by white society of African Americans in film was a major part of this book as African American
The growing momentum of the Civil Rights Movement brought more changes in Hollywood around the 1950s black were beginning to gain more screen time. The 1970s was the Blaxploitation era this films were originally made specifically for an urban black audience, starring black actors in key
In today’s movies after all the integration and quest to level out the superiority, the social dominance of the white folks is still present in the film industry. For example, in the movie The Bodyguard, Whitney Huston and Kevin Costner live together in perfect harmony, despite their racial differences. In todays movies when they want to show tension between the races the Africans Americans are generally grouped with criminal behavior while on the
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
For centuries African American women have been underrepresented and misrepresented by the media (Carpenter, 2012). Stereotypical representations have negatively affected the way society sees and relates to black women, as well as their own self perceptions and identities (Brown, White-Johnson, and Griffin-Fennell, 2013). The media is responsible for bias and stereotyping in its portrayal of underrepresented groups in society. The dissection of these stereotypes, statistical analysis of black representation in film, and modern depictions in cinema and television will help to prove the harm misrepresentations are capable of.
During the 20th Century, it can be noted that minorities have made significant strides in securing their dreams and reaching equality in America. The advances such as the right to own land and the right to vote has defined America to be the “land of opportunity”. Despite the political advances obtained, minorities still suffer from the racist beliefs that have also been ingrained into American society. Although it has been long since these bigoted practices have been upheld by the law, it could be argued that supremacist ideologies and derogatory stereotypes are still seen in the entertainment industry. Historically, the portrayal of minorities, especially African Americans, has been less ideal.
Movies in the 70’s were stereotypically about black people fighting crime or doing the crime. A
In early African American Cinema, filmmakers had a mission to move away from white perspectives on what it meant to be black (Stewart 225). Oftentimes, we would see black actors being portrayed in scenes as the antagonist committing crimes, as in the case of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. Soon after Griffith released the film, filmmaker Oscar Micheaux forever changed American Independent Cinema with his “response” film Within Our Gates, which helped start the advent of race films (NAACP 1). Some of the most notable race films were: The Homesteader, Body and Soul, and The Blood of Jesus. Such films were produced for all-black audiences that featured black casts. But that did not necessarily mean that they were directed and written by
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.
Most film portrayals I have seen, most famously “Birth of a Nation,” show African Americans as lustful, lazy, violent, and unintelligent. In fact, in D. W. Griffith’s entirely racist “Birth of a Nation,” African Americans in the film, played by actors in blackface, continuously disrupt the “peaceful” nostalgic way of life of the south after the war. Eventually, filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux, W. E. B. Dubois, Herb Jeffries, and Lorenzo Tucker sought to put an end to the racist films by making “race films” where African Americans acted in, wrote, shot and directed their own films. However, this wasn’t enough. Some race films reverted back to racist films, where African Americans were making fun of themselves, just to turn a profit.
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,
From the very beginning of the early stages in American cinema, African Americans had a presence on the silver screen. The twentieth century created a new era of cinema that consisted of films produced for and targeted to an all-Black audience. “Race films” which existed in the United States for over thirty years (1913-1948), were films produced by African Americans that focused on Black themes and highlighted the talents of African American directors, producers, scriptwriters, and actors.