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the Cause and Effect

bell hooks not only encourages society to watch films critically, but to take our analysis and insight gained and use it to recognize our daily encounters with “"white supremacist capitalist patriarchy." bell hooks stresses that the images of women on screen—whether they be degrading, violent, or stereotypical—are more than just an image to be immediately consumed, and thereafter forgotten. Rather, she urges all of society to recognize the many causes and consequent effects of these depictions.

For example, I have always strongly disapproved of the modern day rap video. The “subservient sex slave? female idolizing the “male rap god? as he runs off lyrics, which demean women and establish them as an object that belongs to him and serves only to achieve whatever sexual or violent fantasy he creates. The cause for this always seemed self-evident: male superiority. Yet, this image, as disturbing as it is in and of itself, requires so much more interpretation if we are to fully comprehend our societal tendencies in popular culture. bell hooks points to the white CEOs and presidents of the record label companies which produce and control this; in addition, one must consider the young suburban, white male population that demands and subsequently supports this type of industry. As well as the music video producers, who almost force-feed viewers the image that the “light? African American female is preferable. So by looking at the larger social constructs as bell’s insists, one recognizes that in a rap video it is not just a the portrayal of patriarchy, but also the power of capitalism and deeply engrained racist ideals that lead the numerous negative effects (such as increased violence against black women).

The effects of “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy? can also be seen in the popular roles given to women in film: the femme fatale or the objectified sexual object to name a few. I could go on and on listing examples of women being literally “framed? in these roles as seen through the “male gaze? of the male protagonist. Yet, the problem isn’t that this exists, but that we are unaware neither of its existence nor of its effects upon us. For example, women feel the need to become these characters, which supposedly are a reflection of what women in society ought to be. Men subconsciously come to expect these impossible standards of women in real life. Creating two forms of impossible expectation. Another example, is the frequent casting of black men in the roles of violent villains—even when a script does not specify the race of the character, the director knows a black villain will sell best. We cannot continue to see movies as merely entertainment when it is so evident that the repeated representations of women and people of color in such demeaning roles is having significant effect upon society.

As my eyes were opened to the repercussions caused by these portrayals in current and past film and society, I immediately wanted to know what has been or can be done to erase this. I was deeply interested in bell hooks response. She believes it is through books, not movies, that we will begin to repair the situation. To achieve freedom and justice in our society we need more “mass literacy.? In her view, it is only with critical thinking and literacy that we will achieve a true transformation. This surprised me at first, but it makes absolute sense the more I ponder it. Movies are so dictated by the white men of Hollywood and the social pressure to provide what sells, that true avant-guard films will never provide the permanent solution to the unfortunate status quo. It is only through the readings of intuitive and informed thinkers like bell hooks that society will begin to first acknowledge and then erase the terribly flawed perceptions and attitudes it currently holds of all races and genders.

Comments

I can't agree more with your paragraph on the modern rap video. All of your points are valid and summarize hook's views precisely. The fact that white CEOs produce black culture to the majority of white teenage male consumers, while still pumping out the idea that light-skinned, straight-haired, black women are preferable the dark-skinned, natural-haired black woman. I particularly like your comment on the "force-feeding" of images.