Your assignment is to write a 3 page (double-spaced, appox. 600 words) movie review, discussing "Ethnic Notions" and "Color Adjustment" as a two-part series. The review should be informed by the surrounding assigned readings, and other relevant readings from earlier in the course. The purpose is for you to demonstrate your understanding of the rise and transformation of racist representations in popular culture since the mid-19th century. In particular, I want you to move beyond talking about "stereotypes" to talking about racist "representational systems" in which the stereotypes are embedded. This means thinking about the political, economic and social forces that give rise to these images, and the forces that have led to changes in the image systems.
You should imagine that you are writing for a journal called "Film and History," and your job is to analyze how and why the representation of African Americans in popular culture has changed over time. Generally speaking, you will be more effective is you do not try to write about too many different aspects, but rather use one or two topics as focal points for making larger general observations and analyses.
Some questions to think about as you watch the films and write your review:
What have been the main stereotypes of African Americans in popular culture?
How have those stereotypes been parts of a larger racist "representational system"?
What particular segment of the dominant culture has each stereotype benefited?
What role have political economy and class played in generating and changing these systems of image?
How have questions of gender and class complicated questions of racial representations?
What roles have changing pop genres and changing technologies played in supporting and/or undermining stereotypes?
What have been the major continuities and what the major changes in African American representation over time?
What have been the major social forces that have undermined or actively resisted these racist representational systems?
In what ways have older stereotypes survived in subtler, or altered ways into the present representational system that some have called "enlightened racism"? (Herman Gray's essay may especially help here.)
What new stereotypes and images have emerged in recent years?
What positive changes have occurred since "Color Adjustment" was completed in 1991, and what things have not improved?
What similarities and differences do you see between representations
of black people in pop culture and representations of Asian Americans? Native
Americans? Latinos? Gays and lesbians?
DUE DATE: February 4th