Bell Hooks and Cultural Criticism

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Bell Hooks' film teaches us to watch films critically by bring to our attention things that we may not have even considered previously. Through example, she was able to teach us what sorts of things we need to be watching for and why they may be viewed as problematic representations of culture. Hooks put extraordinary emphasis on race in this documentary which is extremely helpful to me. As a member of a privileged race, I have never before been in a place to really think analyze the racialization of roles in film.
In order to analyze films or popular culture, one must be able to remove it from the realm of entertainment. She goes on to explain that she is able to really enjoy watching a film because of the entertainment factor, but then is able to simultaneously dislike the film because of the problems of representation within it.
Hooks spends much of the documentary discussing the concept of being an "enlightened witness." In order to be an enlightened witness, one must do more than simply watch the material. One must also understand the manner in which they respond to the material (consciously or otherwise). Understanding the reactions or internalizations that are a result of pop culture is just as important as analyzing the representations within the culture itself.
An enlightened witness creates a better space for discussion than a simple spectator does. Without these witnesses, our discussion would be limited to solely analyzing the film itself in an objective manner. The enlightened witness brings to the table a subjectivity that is very valuable in a discussion experience. By analyzing the film itself as well as our individual responses to it, we are able to create a much more active and useful discussion than if we were solely discussing it as spectators.

2 Comments

I agree with your line " An enlightened witness creates a better space for discussion than a simple spectator does". This couldn't be more of the truth. However, today it is far more easier to just enjoy and laugh at representations in popular culture, but why? I do believe that we must be critical of the things we enter into our minds because if we fail to do so , we slowly turn into that in which we took in.
I can also enjoy a film while watching it but can gain a dislike for the storyline depending on what it is trying to convey. We must not ignore the obvious and we must cast our own judgements on the creators, directors, companies, hollywood and ask them what message are the trying to convey and what good would it do to the audience. We must always be critical not just on popular culture but on ourselves as well. Bell Hooks did a great job explaining the critical thinking aspect every viewer needs to embody, and I totally agree.

I like that you pointed out how Bell Hooks states that she can enjoy a film for the entertainment and dislike it at the same time because of its representation problems. I feel like many times when people think of stereotypes within media, they feel that they must either stop liking their favorite movie or show in order to feel they are being socially conscious, or just deny that any problems in representation exist in that piece of media, and that's not the case. I think that if people were more aware of the fact that it is possible to both analyze and critique media productions, and simultaneously enjoy them for what they are, then perhaps there would be less mainstream denial of the way that Hollywood perpetuates many stereotypes in its productions.

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This page contains a single entry by Kelsey P. published on January 23, 2012 9:56 AM.

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