The Grammar of Race

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I read The Whites of Their Eyes by Stuart Hall today and I was intrigued by his concept of the "grammar of race." In the article he says that the resonance of nineteenth century English literature inspired the appearance of certain base-images of races in some of the movies of the early to mid 20th century. He gives three examples of base-images, (1) the slave-figure which is devoted to his/her master but is yet untrustworthy, (2) the native who appears to have a dual nature in literature either being noble and kind or savage and barbaric, and (3) is the clown/entertainer.

The "native" base-image struck a chord with me when I read his description. I realized that these base-images resonating from 19th century literature are still be depicted as recently as the early 1990s. The film, The Last of the Mohicans (1992) shows the same dual nature of the Native American that was represented in literature in the 19th century. The Last of the Mohicans film is, of course, based on the novel of the same name, which was published in 1826. While the story has a compelling message, the two base-images of natives are represented.

I think this means that media today need to be examined for possible inferential racism especially if it is based on old media where this kind of racism comes from. This kind of ideology is not something that should be revived in new media unless it is being exposed as a negative one.

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This page contains a single entry by trim0036 published on October 11, 2012 5:00 PM.

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