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bell hooks

When we watched “Cultural Criticism and Transformation� in class, I was prepared for a film that highlighted the things that were wrong in popular culture and the things that need change. What I wasn’t prepared for was how well bell hooks was at articulating the things I have often only vaguely felt about these issues. Hooks’ film doesn’t simply make a few points about the flaws in today’s media culture; it challenges the audience to become more aware of the issues that pass in front of our eyes everyday on screen. She challenges us to become “enlightened witnesses� or people who not only see but also question and analyze what it is that we are taking in. Hooks’ point about “color coding� was really interesting because she spoke about the different levels of acceptance based on the lightness of skin, i.e. a woman of color with darker skin is less likely to play in a leading role. I found this especially interesting because when I look back to many of the films I have seen, there are very few exceptions to this rule.

I find it very interesting to think about the way that I view a film and then to think about how bell hooks might view the same film. The reason I find it interesting is that I imagine that hooks thinks about all parts of the film, not just what is being represented on screen. She takes into consideration the director, the cameraman, the crew, the producers, everything. Her analysis isn’t just about what message is being portrayed; it is also about how that message is coming to the audience. In this way, I admire her analytical prowess and seek to emulate it in my own critical analysis of films. I hope to take from this film a sense of skepticism about the messages in the films I watch in the future and become more of an “enlightened witness� as hooks would say.

Comments

Bell Hook's documentary had the same affect on me pertaining to the way I view film. What I overlook as a simple casting choice in a film, may in fact have a much deeper meaning. Film is in many ways a mirror of our own lives, so the underlining messages in film are in fact the realities of our every day life. If we watch and critique film accurately it can really be a wake up call to what is going on in the world around us.

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