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Popular Culture:
Critical Issues, Critical Approaches

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Selected Videos on Popular Culture

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  Below is a list ofsome of the many videos on diversity and pop cultural that are available at Media Materials in the Holland Library

Advertising and the End of the World. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 1998. [VHS 18819]
Presents a compelling and accessible argument about consumerism and its impact on the earth's future. Extensively illustrated with graphics and examples from commercial imagery.

bell hooks: Cultural Criticism and Transformation. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 1997. [ VHS 17476 ]
Critic bell hook [sic] makes a compelling argument for the transformative powers of cultural criticism. She demonstrates how learning to think critically was central to her own self-transformation and how it can play a role in the quest for a sense of agency and identity. Includes footage from many films and music videos, and news coverage.

Black Is... Black Ain't. Dir. Marlon Riggs. California Newsreel, 1994. [VHS 16233]
American culture has stereotyped black Americans for centuries. Equally devastating, the late Marlon Riggs argued, have been the definitions of "blackness" African Americans impose upon one another which contain and reduce the black experience. In this film, Riggs meets a cross-section of African Americans grappling with the paradox of numerous, often contradictory definitions of blackness. He shows many who have felt uncomfortable and even silenced within the race because their complexion, class, sexuality, gender, or speech has rendered them "not black enough," or conversely, "too black." The film scrutinizes the identification of "blackness" with masculinity as well as sexism, patriarchy and homophobia in black America.

Color Adjustment. Dir. Marlon Riggs. California Newsreel, 1991. [VHS 14430]
This study of prejudice and perception traces over forty years of race relations in America through the lens of prime time TV entertainment. Black actors Esther Rolle, Diahann Carroll, Denise Nicholas, and Tim Reid and Hollywood producers Norman Lear, Steve Bochco and David Wolper reveal the behind-the-scenes story of how prime time was "integrated." Revisiting such popular hits as Amos and Andy, Beulah, The Nat King Cole Show, Julia, I Spy, Good Times and Roots, viewers see how bitter racial conflict was absorbed into the non-controversial formats of the prime time series.

Edward Said on Orientalism. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 1998. [VHS 18438]
Edward Said's book Orientalism has been influential in a diverse range of disciplines since its publication in 1978. In this interview he talks about the context in which the book was conceived, its main themes, and how its original thesis relates to the contemporary understanding of "the Orient." Includes some discussion of Orientalism in pop culture.

The Myth of the Liberal Media. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 1997. [VHS 18398] Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky discuss their comprehensive framework for understanding how the news is produced and in whose interests it works. They argue that the news media is subordinated to corporate and conservative interests and is not liberal. Pt. 1. The filters of news, Pt. 2. Domestic issues, Pt. 3. International issues.

Ethnic Notions. Dir. Marlon Riggs. California Newsreel, 1986. [VHS 14431]
Traces deeply-rooted stereotypes which have fueled anti-Black prejudice through a history of more than one hundred years of race relations in America.

The Killing Screens: Media and the Culture of Violence. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 1994. [VHS 17694]
Host, Jean Kilbourne, with George Gerbner, explores why there is so much violence on television and its effects on viewers. Addresses psychological, political, social, and developmental impacts of growing and living within a cultural environment of pervasive, ritualized violent representation. Suggests new ways of thinking about the negative effects of mass media on society, and discusses what can be done. Questions and ideas are based on the results of a 20-year ongoing study, the Cultural Indicators Project, by Dr. George Gerbner.

Killing Us Softly 3. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 2000. [VHS 19012]
Discusses the manner in which women are portrayed by advertising and the effects this has on women and their images of themselves.

Paris is Burning. Dir. Jennie Livingston. Academy Maverick, 1990. [VHS 15545]
Documentary about the young homosexual men of Harlem who originated "voguing" and turned these stylized dance competitions into glittering expressions of fierce personal pride. A story of street-wise urban survival, gay self-affirmation, and the pursuit of a desperate dream. Part of a recent trend interest in transvestites in US pop culture.

Race: the Floating Signifier. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 1996. [VHS 17294]
Stuart Hall, a renowned cultural critic and media analyst discussing how race is constructed in popular culture and culture generally. Also includes an interview with Hall by Sut Jhally.

Savage Acts. Dir. Pennee Bender, Joshua Brown and Andrea Ades Vasquez. American Social History Productions, Inc., 1995. [VHS 18863]
Using political cartoons, animations, documentary film and excerpts from diaries, examines American imperialism, expansionist policies and wars at the beginning of the 20th century. Special focus on the American annexation of the Philippine Islands and racial attitudes portrayed in the World's Fairs of 1893, 1901 and 1904.

Tough Guise: Violence, Media, And The Crisis In Masculinity. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation, 1999. [VHS 18850]
The first program to look systematically at the relationship between the images of popular culture and the social construction of masculine identities in the US in the late 20th century. In this innovative and wide-ranging analysis, Jackson Katz argues that there is a crisis in masculinity and that some of the guises offered to men as a solution (rugged individualism, violence) come loaded with attendant dangers to women, as well as other men.

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