bell hooks' "Cultural Criticism and Transformation"

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In "Cultural Criticism and Transformation", bell hooks is very eloquent when describing the interlocking politics of gender and race, and the way that those things are complicated through affects of popular media, especially films and music. By presenting her coined comprehensive ideology of "White supremacist capitalist patriarchy", she is giving us a very wide and valuable lens with which to critique both movies and other aspects of society. By explaining that everything in society is produced and consumed through that lens, she is urging us to see through that lens as well: to understand and critically think about what we are consuming and the ways those views impact society. When hooks explains her idea of the "enlightened witness", she's talking about seeing everything through a critical lens and then responding to the message. Instead of passively accepting the message that popular media is telling us, we have to question it and how we are responding to it. This holds especially true for thinking about marginalized communities, who are often not given the space to speak for themselves in society. If the people with the most power (read: money) are consuming movies about marginalized communities (which are usually being mutated through a White lens in the first place) and are drawing certain ideas and assumptions from those representations- that is inherently dangerous. Because those people are only seeing and thinking about those communities through that lens of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, instead of taking the initiative to gather their own education and hone their ideas through actually speaking and working with that marginalized community. Her example of this phenomenon was showcased when she was talking about the production and consumption of rap music in America. When it comes to being an enlightened witness and watching queer movies, there is always a realm of things to think about critically. The first and foremost is, obviously, the way we understand "queer" in society and if queerness is happening in some way through or in the film. There is also the necessity of looking at race, class, gender, sex, and sexuality (among many other things) and the way those identities intersect both with each other, with the way we understand "queer" in society, and the way those things are being presented as "queer" through or in the film in question.

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I thought this was really interesting. I really liked how you pointed out who the movies are being made by the ones with the most power, as well as being viewed by the same crowed, it could be dangerous because they aren't the ones being misrepresented in these films. It's not the minorities who need to be taught about their own culture, it's those who aren't expressed to diversity and have only seen people of other race or sexual orientation in movies that need to know that what they're watching on the screen can't be taken and applied to all people of that minority group. I also like how you touched on the idea of looking at other media such as music because movies aren't the sole reason for stereotypes.

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This page contains a single entry by tayl0598 published on January 22, 2012 5:45 PM.

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