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Bell Hooks - The Enlightened Witness

In "Cultural Criticism and Transformation", Bell Hooks taught about being an enlightened witness. This lesson proved basic yet essential when watching films critically. This same idea applies to music, as well as culture and every day life. She also mentioned the importance of critical thinking and literacy in order to develop the enlightened eye. Reading about our history as well as current events is a strategy Hooks spoke about. She combines these ideas with the knowledge of key terminology providing a strong base for critically analyzing popular culture and films. Hooks talked about the institutional construct that is made up of capitalism, patriarchy, and the white supremacist. She also focused on the portrayal of women in movies showing clips from Leaving Las Vegas, Kids and others. While viewing these clips, she points out the framing of women, slow motion, and close-ups that are often used to reinforce the "to-be-looked-at-ness" of females in film. In the reading, "Intro: Woman as not Born but Becomes Woman", McCabe writes about the female types in film consisting of the glamour goddess, femme fatale,

and the self-sacrificing mother (pg 4). These titles coincided with Hooks' identification of the female in film. Hooks made clear the importance of including skin color in the critical eye of the enlightened witness. She disagrees with the idea that green (money) is the only color that counts anymore. It is important to ask why the character in the film or the dancer in the music video is the color they are. These tools that Bell Hooks provided are ones that I will use throughout the semester and for years to come. I think that her idea of an enlightened witness is very important and I will strive to improve my critical eye through the strategies she provided. I will not only use them for film class but also in every day life in order to better understand our culture and how the female is portrayed within it.

Katherine Jonas


Well written blog! I liked how you used the readings here and to reinforce your points. I don't know that hooks refers explicitly to the female types in film, but she certainly would agree that they exist. I think she chose a more important issue to focus on when she opted not to point out the obvious and over criticized flaws like females playing standard roles like the femme fatale or self-sacrificing mother.