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Bell Hooks Pop Culture

Bell Hooks film Cultural Criticism and Transformation teaches us that you need to watch films as an enlightened witness. Being an enlightened witness means becoming critically vigilant about the world we live in. In the section Motivated Representation Bell Hooks talks about the movie Smoke. In the movie the theft is an African American boy yet the script never asks for an African American actor. Bell Hooks asks the director of the film Smoke why he chose to cast an African American boy and he couldn’t answer her. The director without knowing it reproduces certain kinds of racial stereotypes. We as the audience have to be conscious of racial, gender and other profiling in pop culture. Bell Hooks also mentions that film making isn’t about magical thinking, imagination or creativity, its about people consciously knowing what kinds of images make an impact. Which means they only pick an African American as the theft because they know it’ll make an impact. Key terms Hooks mentions are White Supremacy, Capitalist, and Patriarchy. They refer to an institutional structure, not individual beliefs. Bell Hooks said that if she just looks through the critical lenses of gender or race you’ll miss the bigger picture when looking at pop culture but if you use these key terms you will see the bigger picture. Bell Hooks’s film has made me think when I watch a film how is each person being portrayed and how each situation is being handled. One topic that she talked about that struck with me is when she is talking about the rape scene in the film Kids. The movie Kids said that there would be a brutal rape and to be advised when watching. Bell Hooks points out that if you were not able to see the rape and you were only able to hear what was happening you would think that it was just two people making love not a brutal rape. I would of never thought that before she pointed it out. I mean I know that was rape when watching the movie but that was because she told us before the scene was played. If someone were just shown that clip of the rape they wouldn’t know it was rape. This fact was an eye opener for me because of how this could be so differently perceived. Bell Hooks pointed out to us that no one wanted to talk about the feminist movement; there has been a great back last against feminist being played out in movies. Back around WW II when women bad to work in the factories mass media was used to get them back into the kitchen and now mass media is trying to get women out of feminist ways of thinking and back into patriarchy way of thinking. I never thought about this happening in pop culture and knowing this has really opened up my eyes.


I like that you brought up the feminist movement and what mass media is doing to it. I forgot about that part in the film... I think it's a really scary thing that our culture is trying to take that away from us. I often hear women refer to other women as being "feminist" like it's a special title or a weird thing. It makes me wonder why they don't consider themselves feminists especially if I know that they practice feminism. I feel that our culture wants people to feel outcasted by being labeled a feminist.

I strongly agree that mass media has done much to disintegrate feminist thinking, it took 40 years to recover writings from the first wave of feminism. Many materials were put out of print and out of mind, and it's still taking us time to get back on track with the progress.

I'm glad you brought up the rape scene in the film KIDS, I have always been baffled at Larry Clark's ability to create a film with such vivid reality, for this reason, I've always been a fan. I do not necessarily agree with Bell Hooks' critique of that scene, I think that in the context of the film, the scene was perfectly placed, and entirely horrific regardless of how non-violent it appeared. I think the "tenderness" of the rape made it even more shocking and terrifying, the character Jenni had been drugged earlier that night, and this is a typical case of "date-rape" so to say, a rape where the victim knows and is friends with the person raping them. This scene takes place on campus every weekend. It's f'ing terrifying! I got drugged at Palmer's bar one night, but luckily I was with friends who could protect and take care of me. I think the film very realistically brought forward incredibly important issues.