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Kids and Leaving Las Vegas

Bell hooks’ film "Cultural Criticism and Transformation" teaches us how to watch films critically in a number of ways. She employs the strategy of thinking critically about representation on film and avoiding the temptation to think that a film is just entertainment or art and doesn't mean anything. In the film "Kids� she critiques the scene where the kids beat the black man to death and notes that Larry Clark intentionally used a dark-skinned man in order to play on the antipathy of the audiences. She also looks at what types of people produce the images we see in film. For example, only privileged, wealthy people are able to produce a major Hollywood film and their personal and political ideas, both latent and manifest, are projected through the film. Bell hooks encourages viewers to watch films while consciously thinking about how ideas of patriarchy, conscious manipulation, white supremacy and capitalism play into the image that we see.

She offers thorough analysis of films by identifying instances of scopophilia and watching the films with an oppositional gaze. Her film has helped me to consider that filmmakers often use manipulations and stereotypical shortcuts to help tell the story they want. Bell hooks uses "Leaving Las Vegas" as an example of a film representing the backlash of the feminist movements. I don't agree with her critique of "Leaving Las Vegas". I feel like it supports the ideas of radical feminism more than rejects them. Sera, the prostitute, drives the narrative and is a sympathetic character. It sends a clear anti-patriarchic message, especially the gang-bang scene. When I watch films in the future, I will try to identify what images are products of white supremacist, capitalistic patriarchy and what images are simply just part of the story.

Comments

I've never seen leaving las vegas, but the fact that you even had a critique of bell hooks, I think, was a good thing. Again, I'm not sure who's argument is better, but it was refreshing to see that someone was thinking for themselves rather than simply letting hooks' point of view stand in as their own.

I agree with Isabelle. It was nice to read some criticism of hooks. I have to admit that I struggle with her philosophy quite a bit. There is no doubt that she is an extremely intelligent person. We can't deny the fact that patriarchy and racism are significant problems and we must be conscious of how pop culture feeds into them. Then again, I tend to believe that great movies don't always have to be subversive or counter-culture.

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