March 2011 Archives

Evolution of Film and Race

In the two articles for this week, they both discuss the controversy of film and race. The first article, "Screening out the Past", tells all about the early film industry and how it came to be. It then goes on in detail about D.W. Griffiths involvement with film and also the messages he was displaying. The camera was able to catch important trends and changes in society. "The camera was a God-given means for communicating regardless of language, background, or class, everyone could comprehend the universal language of silent pictures. Film not only transcended ethnic or language divisions, but also was superior to books, paintings, or the stage."(pp. 72). With this being able to happen, Griffith came out with the very controversial film, "The Birth of a Nation". This film showed the everyday interactions among blacks and whites, and specifically downplayed blacks rights and being in society. Michelle Wallace's article, "The Good Lynching and Birth of a Nation: Discourses and Aesthetics of Jim Crow", Wallace breaks down Griffith's film, claiming it be the start and reasoning for white supremacy in the US. Because Griffith portrays blacks as such horrible beings, the public opinion of them also was negative. Because film was such a powerful way to express what was happening in society it was also able to form beliefs that would have never been expressed before. Because Griffith displayed such racist and graphic film to the public, there were many changes in race, class, and gender . He displayed what he thought society should be like and also formed a movement of white supremacy. If Griffith had not formed these films, and had Wallace not broken down the film in which she had, do you feel that society's view on race, class and gender would be different? Also, because film is able to capture the realities of society, can we learn from films "teachings" and form better analysis and understanding on events happening at that time? (example: after The Birth of a Nation, we can see actions of the NAACP against the film and how it impacted race issues)

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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