Bell Hooks

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Let me first start out by saying I do not agree with all of the opinions that Bell Hooks states in her documentary. I think she herself is a bit racist and thinks that black people are represented well enough on the media and when they are they are not represented well. I think there are movies such as Ali with Will Smith that portray black people in a very good way. Although Hooks does teach us a lot of ways to look at films critically. She teaches us the ideas on how films do use racial profiling to get a response out of the audience watching. She also teaches us a bit on what themes we can look for in movies such as domestic violence, as in the OJ Simpson trial, and feminism power, as with Madonna's career. As much as I disagree with a lot of Bell Hook's ideas and theories, she does have a few good ones that make sense to me such as her story on Spike Lee's movie. It was a culturally moving movie that made a decent profit but it didn't make enough to be profound. Hooks uses a lot of racial profiling to explain movies and the extent that they impact culture. She also uses gender, like when it comes to the movie Kids. She explains that people remember the men and the raping scene, where as the women kind of go unnoticed. When Hooks talks about being enlightened witnesses when we watch representations it means that we the media around us and we are critically vigilant about the world we live in. This is the media that we are able to remove ourselves and understand the representation that media is creating for us. We understand how we are being represented and do not argue with how movies or television or books say we are. We just accept it. Overall, Bell Hooks documentary proved to be insightful and was interesting to watch.

6 Comments

totally agree with you that Bell herself may hold certain biases of her own. Whether that is a reflection of her own personal experiences or education I cannot say. I also think I felt she came across as pretentious at times as most scholarly people seem to. In truth I was kind of put off by her intellectual jargon simply because I could not relate or had no prior knowledge of it. I like your interpretation of what it means to be enlightened witnesses as well. I think the ability to remove ourselves objectively is an important quality in that it allows us to look at a film, event, etc. and see the details that can sometimes tell us so much.
Nice blog =)

I guess I am a little confused by what you mean when saying that bell hooks is herself a little racist. I did not run across this when watching the documentary and am just wondering how she came off this way. But I do see that her language was scholarly, but I also think that many times the use of intellectual jargon is necessary only because without it the precise meaning of what is being said is not always possible. I do however agree that an accurate definiton of being enlightened witnesses is to remove your personal stake in the matter and "understand the representation that media is creating for us". As a whole I agree with what you're saying.

Although hooks may in fact hold biases of her own, I do not think that she is being racist-or that racism is even the root of the topic being discussed here. What hooks is talking about goes far beyond racism in our society. I don't think she's necessarily providing a critique on the way that people of color are being represented in film, she's urging consumers of mass media to understand the ramifications and implications of how people are represented in our society. So to say that she is racist is a devaluation of the point that she is trying to make. Society is much more complicated than that, and I believe that hooks' argument is essentially that we must look at society beyond these types of black and white terms.

I made a similar comment on another post, and the issue of "scholarly jargon" ties in with what I said before.

I would agree that bell hooks sounded pretentious and used words that don't fit in to the average persons vocabulary. But I agree with arse0042 that the reason why scholars come up with these words is because they are invented to describe a specific situation. Our duty is to learn these words and incorporate them in to our own vocabulary so that they know longer sound like jargon and so that they make sense to us.

Her point on being literate comes in to play here. Being educated and literate is CRUCIAL to understanding your world around you. I would rather listen to bell hooks sound a little pretentious, but at least know what she's talking about, than a random person's personal, uneducated opinion filled with generalizations and assumptions based on a few things they've experienced in life.

I too am confused to the racism comment. I would agree with mill5609 to a certain extent that, in fact the imagery and the choice actions of individuals of prominently white producers have decided to produce are at the root of what should be critiqued. Hooks response to this and her individual expansions on the matter was rather a commentary that these actions have profound effects on us as a society whether we choose to notice them or not.

Though I don't think Hooks is necessarily being racist, I do think that some of her work is not easily accessed by some people, and this is where her issue of literacy comes in to play. Even for some people who can read and write, they don't have the opportunity to learn about what it is to critically view film, and don't even have the chance for a college education like we do. So maybe this is what you were referring to when you stated that Hooks was being racist? It is difficult for her theories to be far reaching, but maybe that makes it all the more important for us to discuss these issues in our day to day lives.

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This page contains a single entry by karyx006 published on January 22, 2012 4:59 PM.

bell hooks & Active Engagement in Cultural Ideology was the previous entry in this blog.

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