Cultural Criticism

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In the film Cultural Criticisms and Transformation, Bell Hooks creates a critical analysis of pop culture and its current(relatively) understanding. Looking at topics of race, gender, and class, Hooks brings up the discussion of the White supremacist capitalist patriarchy. This term is used to describe how looking through a specific lens, specifically gender or race, may not allow for a full view of the impact of entertainment. From the use of specific actors/actresses, to the dialogue in the film, Hooks explains that all parts of a film have a meaning. The discussion of rap brought up why there is such a tunnel view of popular rap. The influence of money aids decision making, thus the people writing the checks are controlling the representations of the artists. In analyzing pop culture and films, Hooks uses the point of view of the viewer to parse out the real meanings of the media. Looking through the eyes of the viewer, in most cases she discussed a white consumer; she explained the importance of the representations of Madonna. Remembering that money has a large influence, if not total, on the producers and artists; money controlled what Madonna produced as a product. Her product, to be sold to America, was to conform to the norm of hyper sexuality. Hooks discussed the Enlightened Witness, when talking about how people receive a representation, and how they react to it. An enlightened witness is one who can be critically vigilant about what they are told, and can use their critical reading and writing skills to further an understanding and intellectual response to it. Bringing this idea to Queer Cinema will open doors to an intellectual conversation of what profound messages can be within the media. The idea of the enlightened witness is one synonymous with open-mindedness and academia, and when brought to Queer Cinema, will only cause the conversations to be more academic and insightful.

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I also found it interesting that hooks suggested the term "White supremacist capitalist patriarchy" to discuss the implications of popular culture rather than "racist" or "sexist". I specifically think of the segment on OJ Simpson's trial where hooks examines how the media turned the trial into a matter of race. It was poignant to see women from a shelter for abused women cheering on the "Not Guilty" verdict of the trial despite the abusive nature of the alleged crime. Examining this trial in a more critical light might involve delving into issues of race as well and gender, wealth, and power.

Relating to this Queer Cinema course, it is necessary to examine the media (particularly films) in a way which allows us to think about who is making the film, what their motive is (is it to make a box office moneymaker? Is it to document injustice?) and how the film affects public perception of "queerness". Perhaps hooks' phrase should be changed to "White supremacist, capitalist, STRAIGHT patriarchy" as we look at who has power in the media.

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This page contains a single entry by Max published on January 23, 2012 4:37 AM.

Cultural Criticism and Transformation was the previous entry in this blog.

bell hooks' lesson on being an enlightened witness is the next entry in this blog.

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