Monday, November 21, 2011

Cooper Again.

Ok, writing my last post has given me an idea, and I think it's kind of interesting. In the previous post, I talked about at the very end up representation in Cinema. Cooper in her article says there aren't enough black poets.Well, there are black directors. I was looking for something to watch in on demand the other day, and there is commercial thing that was playing. It showed me movies that were available to me. This particular commercial highlighted the genre "Black Cinema". I remember being kind of taken aback by the name. I guess I knew the genre exist, but not by a specific name.

Anyway, just based off the commercials I saw. All the characters in "black cinema" are African American. They are directed by African American directors, and they deal with themes supposedly important to the black community. Cooper might be really excited to see such a thing exist if she were still alive, but I question whether her argument holds up. She seems to think that Blacks would represent themselves more accurately if they were the ones painting themselves. I argue that this is not the case in Black Cinema.

It is important here to note that there is this idea that comes up time and again in our society. That there are things that are "black", things that are "white", thinks that are "gay" , "straight" etc etc.

I have limited experience with Black Cinema, but look at a few examples that I do know

Especially the Undercover Brother trailer. Am I the only one who things maybe they perpetuate stereotypes? Build a caricature?

I think that this is how black people tend to represent themselves in cinema, and it kind of worries me. Not because I think that there is anything wrong with the characters, but because it sort of pigeon holes the black individual. It sends this message "this is what it's like to be black, if you aren't this, you're white."

I don't think this is necessarily what Cooper would have wanted, I think she'd kind of be disappointed, but I really want to know what you guys think about this one. I hope you find it as interesting as I do!


  1. I actually still have more to say about this I jumped the gun on posting it. Compare how Blacks are represented in "black cinema" with how they are represented in a genre that isn't necessarily white. Half baked is a movie Directed by a white lady, and co written by a white guy.

    How much of a difference is there between that, and what was shown in the other trailer?

    It brings into question the real reason the representation of African Americans is skewed. Is it because Whites are writing about what they don't understand? or is there something else?

  2. I think that Butler's "Gender Trouble" might be of help here, as she addresses the very quandary of representation that you write about in this post. Butler writes, "The very subject of women is no longer understood in stable or abiding terms" (2). Basically, "women" as the subject of "feminism" doesn't work so well, because there isn't agreement on what the category of "women" means. Women as a subject are shaped by juridical politics and language, and also, "women" is not an elective category (3).

    This might shed some light on the issue you raise of Black film perpetuating stereotypes. I am not familiar with Black cinema, so this is certainly conjecture on my part. What if, like women as the subject of feminism, African Americans as the subject of Black cinema isn't a faithful representation, because the group being represented may or may not be an elective category, where subjects can choose to be represented by the medium? This issue of common identity is challenged here. In general, a person cannot chose his or her race or gender, so creating a group that supposedly is based on common identity of race or gender is problematic.

  3. I think, at least, in terms of Undercover Brother (great movie), there is a deconstruction of stereotypes because it is a parody of "blaxploitation" films. In the movie, many stereotypes are illuminated. There's white people LOVING mayonnaise, black people hating it and instead liking hot sauce, which conveniently is sprayed from a watch that Undercover Brother wears. They have a token white guy, Neil Patrick Harris, who was hired because of affirmative action, conspiracy brother, Dave Chapelle, who is leery of everyone and many others. The movie does well to show certain stereotypes but does so in an exaggerated manner to highlight the ridiculousness of it for comedic effect. As for Half Baked, another GREAT movie btw, the main characters are trying to raise money to bail their friend out of jail. They resort to selling marijuana but aren't very effective overall because they are stoned throughout the movie. The clip that you showed again is making fun of the way rappers act in videos. I mean, who honestly pours joints on themselves? I don't think in any way either of the filmmakers are being serious about the representation. Instead, their goal is to show how stupid some of these stereotypes are, to really shove them in our face and say "See? Isn't this a little much?" But I could be totally off base.

  4. Shows courage I wouldn't have had.

    I tend to think films like "Soul Plane" minimize African American culture by typecasting and perpetuating stereotypes. At the same time, with the background from a book called "Rereading America," which talks about how societies organize themselves around concepts of time, the clip was a good reminder of the different perspectives.

    Eddy Murphy's imitation of a white person came to mind as I was reading your post-- it wasn't until I heard his parody that I realized how up tight a person might seem.

    What Mariah Carey said once upon a time (about the time there was a flare-up at golf tournaments because Tiger Woods listed himself as "caublanasian" on entry forms) anyway, Mariah said someting to the effect of "I don't know what I am, but I'm not white," because of how white kids treated her at school.

    Not sure how to applaud you for your post without sounding uppity...Nice job, though.


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