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bell hooks


In “Cultural Criticism and Transformation,? bell hooks demonstrates how important is to think critically about the media we are taking in. This means being an enlightened witness, by vigilantly paying attention to what we’re being told and how we’re responding to it. She points out how powerful pop culture is in its ability to affect people and also how useful it is in helping us grasp concepts of feminist criticism. I thought the film did a great job of giving example after example of the things you notice when you take the time to think critically. I think we often take for granted what hooks calls motivated representation, and that there are “conscious manipulations taking place? in the media we consume. We like to assume the best of filmmakers and don’t always realize that they ultimately have the power to shape our thinking in this way. A good example of this was when hooks talked about constructed narrative in Hoop Dreams. I think it’s really important to realize that even in a documentary, things can be manipulated to send the

message that is desired. I already knew this was true for MTV “reality? shows, but considering that even high quality films can do this was something I hadn’t really thought about before. I have never seen KIDS, but it really struck me how it was constructed for the viewer to identify with the misogynistic white males. This was a good example of Mulvey’s “2nd look,? where the audience member identifies with the male onscreen. It’s particularly disturbing when you take the rape scene into account. It scares me to think that this may have been intentionally portrayed in a way that eroticized the act.

I also found the segment on rap music very thought-provoking. In the years since high school I have gone from completely ignoring the messages in rap music and dancing along to it anyway, to paying attention to the words and being disgusted. hooks makes an excellent point when she says that the rappers are responding to the larger culture, and what sells. My only issue with this is that making this distinction risks removing the responsibility from rappers. I think that changing the culture has to start from the ground up. Rappers producing less exploitative lyrics would be a step in the right direction, whereas waiting for mainstream culture to change first is a lot less productive and doesn’t necessarily get us anywhere.

Comments

I completely agree with what you said about motivated representation. I, too, oftentimes give directors the benefit of the doubt, and trust that they will accurately depict life events on film. It's a harsh realization to see that even a documentary, which seems so raw and true-to-life can be manipulated to send a very explicit and calculated message.

I agree with your statement about taking for granted motivated representation. I am guilty of this and was also shocked by the reality of what we are deceived into thinking are "professional" documentaries; "true" accounts. I was also shocked and disgusted when she showed clips of the movie Kids. Our population is truly gullible and must keep in mind Hooks' idea of the enlightened witness. This idea does not fail in unveiling a new and shocking perspective!

I agree with you when you say "I think that changing the culture has to start from the ground up. Rappers producing less exploitative lyrics would be a step in the right direction" I too believe that it is immoral for rappers to put these kinds of ideas and images out for the next generation to idealize, just so that they are able to increase the fortune which they already have. It is songs and media such as these which has made our society and culture the way it has become and these are the areas in which the change needs to start.

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