Racial Masks and Stereotypes in Imitation of Life and Bamboozled

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-09-29 15:36Z by Steven

Racial Masks and Stereotypes in Imitation of Life and Bamboozled

Caméra Stylo: The Cinema Studies Undergraduate Student Journal
University of Toronto
Volume 13 (2013)
pages 62-74

Nicole Wong

Visible signs of difference mark the racialized body only in com-bination with nonvisible social preconceptions and expectations. A racial stereotype is the link, the image, which ties the visible with the nonvisible imagined meanings and values specific to the culture in which they are produced and shared. The process of racial stereotyping therefore requires three components: the marked body, the collective society of meaning and image-makers, and the racial mask through which the latter views and defines the former. My concern in this article is how American1 popular culture and mass media entertainment has become the foremost platform for racial meaning production, perpetuating false racial stereotypes, yet at the same time attempting to expose its own role as image-maker.

As forms of popular mass media entertainment, Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life (1959) and Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2000) depict such an exposition of the racial stereotyping process, but with significant differences that come with forty years’ distance. These two films function as tragic allegories of the racial stereotype production process as popular entertainment, wherein central characters mask their marked bodies, their self-identity and essential personhood. Racial stereotypes literally are enacted on stage to entertain an audience, a downsized representation both American media makers and receivers. Through the optic of Sander Gilman’s conceptions of the Other and the Self, I will explore the motives behind, and subsequent futility of, attempts to mask racial self-identities with media-defined projected identities that ultimately turn performers into the slaves of spectators. I will also position the ideologies of both films as reflections of the racial performer/audience relationship of their respective time periods…

Read the entire article here.

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Leave Them Wanting More: Douglas Sirk and Imitation of Life

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-09-29 02:56Z by Steven

Leave Them Wanting More: Douglas Sirk and Imitation of Life

Steyn Online

Rick McGinnis, Rick’s Flicks

When Douglas Sirk left Hollywood he was at the zenith of his career, twenty years after he’d arrived there as a refugee from Nazi Germany, unsure if he’d ever make another movie. He had just made his most successful picture, based on what was probably the most controversial topic in America at the time. Maybe he understood that it’s always best to leave when you’re at the top, or maybe he was just tired.

Imitation of Life was an update of a 1934 film starring Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers – a drama about miscegenation and racism and the colour caste system that was no less controversial when producer Ross Hunter decided to remake it – as a musical. Thankfully, by the time Sirk started filming, it was a melodrama again, and one starring Lana Turner, just after her daughter Cheryl Crane had been on trial for running a kitchen knife through Turner’s boyfriend, a mobbed-up gigolo thug named Johnny Stompanato.

Based on a novel by Fanny Hurst, the original film directed by John M. Stahl had Colbert’s Bea create a culinary empire based on a pancake recipe passed down through the family of Delilah (Beavers), her African-American maid. Both women prosper, but Bea’s happiness is threatened when her daughter falls in love with the man she wants to marry. James M. Cain’s 1941 novel Mildred Pierce – later made into a movie with Joan Crawford and a miniseries starring Kate Winslet – is basically a hardboiled rewrite of Hurst’s story, excising the crucial secondary plot involving Delilah and her daughter, a young woman striving to pass for white

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Adele Logan Alexander

Posted in Biography, History, Interviews, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2021-09-29 02:07Z by Steven

Adele Logan Alexander

Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose, Host

Adele Logan Alexander discusses the history of identity, race, and class in the United States through her own family story, as she does in her book “Homelands and Waterways: The American Journey of the Bond Family, 1846-1926.”

Watch the entire interview (00:17:52) here.

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WTF!? A Few Stories I Don’t Know What To Do With

Posted in Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2021-09-29 01:34Z by Steven

WTF!? A Few Stories I Don’t Know What To Do With

Black Power Media

Jared A. Ball, Ph.D., Professor of Africana and Communications
Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD

From 00:21:44 through 00:34:01 in the video, Dr. Ball discusses his views on multiraciality within popular culture and how it connects with blackness in the United States.

Watch the clip here.

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Erasure and Recollection: Memories of Racial Passing

Posted in Anthologies, Book/Video Reviews, Caribbean/Latin America, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Louisiana, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2021-09-29 01:09Z by Steven

Erasure and Recollection: Memories of Racial Passing

Peter Lang
September 2021
366 pages
13 fig. b/w.
Paperback ISBN:978-2-8076-1625-7
ePUB ISBN:978-2-8076-1627-1 (DOI: 10.3726/b18256)

Edited by:

Hélène Charlery, Professor of English Literature
University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France

Aurélie Guillain, Professor of American Literature
University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France

Many recent studies of racial passing have emphasized the continuing, almost haunting power of racial segregation even in the post-segregation period in the US, or in the post-apartheid period in South Africa. This “present-ness” of racial passing, the fact that it has not really become “passé,” is noticeable in the great number of testimonies which have been published in the 2000s and 2010s by descendants of individuals who passed for white in the English-speaking world. The sheer number of publications suggest a continuing interest in the kind of relation to the personal and national past which is at stake in the long-delayed revelation of cases of racial passing.

This interest in family memoirs or in fictional works re-tracing the erasure of some relative’s racial identity is by no means limited to the United States: for instance, Zoë Wicomb in South Africa or Zadie Smith in the UK both use the passing novel to unravel the complex situation of mixed-race subjects in relation to their family past and to a national past marked by a history of racial inequality.

Yet, the vast majority of critical approaches to racial passing have so far remained largely focused on the United States and its specific history of race relations. The objective of this volume is twofold: it aims at shedding light on the way texts or films show the work of individual memory and collective recollection as they grapple with a racially divided past, struggling with its legacy or playing with its stereotypes. Our second objective has been to explore the great variety in the forms taken by racial passing depending on the context, which in turn leads to differences in the ways it is remembered. Focusing on how a previously erased racial identity may resurface in the present has enabled us to extend the scope of our study to other countries than the United States, so that this volume hopes to propose some new, transnational directions in the study of racial passing.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction – Hélène Charlery and Aurélie Guillain
  • Part I: Memories of Racial Passing – Reconstructing Local and Personal Histories – From Homer Plessy to Paul Broyard
    • To Pass or Not to Pass in New Orleans – Nathalie Dessens
    • Racial Passing at New Orleans Mardi Gras; From Reconstruction to the Mid- Twentieth Century: Flight of Fancy or Masked Resistance? – Aurélie Godet
    • Passing through New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York City: The Dynamics of Racial Assignation in Walter White’s Flight (1926) – Aurélie Guillain
    • African American Women Activists and Racial Passing: Personal Journeys and Subversive Strategies (1880s– 1920s) – Élise Vallier-Mathieu
  • Part II: Memory, Consciousness and the Fantasy of Amnesia in Passing Novels
    • “What Irene Redfield Remembered”: Making It New in Nella Larsen’s Passing – M. Giulia Fabi
    • Between Fiction and Reality: Passing for Non- Jewish in Multicultural American Fiction – Ohad Reznick
    • Experiments in Passing: Racial Passing in George Schuyler’s Black No More and Arthur Miller’s Focus – Ochem G.l.a. Riesthuis
    • Passing to Disappearance: The Voice/ Body Dichotomy and the Problem of Identity in Richard Powers’s The Time of Our Singing (2004) – Anne-Catherine Bascoul
  • Part III: Memories of Racial Passing within and beyond the United States: Towards a Transnational Approach
    • “The Topsy-Turviness of Being in the Wrong Hemisphere” Transnationalizing the Racial Passing Narrative – Sinéad Moynihan
    • Passing, National Reconciliation and Adolescence in Beneath Clouds (Ivan Sen, 2002) and The Wooden Camera (Ntshaveni Wa Luruli, 2003) – Delphine David and Annael Le Poullennec
    • Transnational Gendered Subjectivity in Passing across the Black Atlantic: Nella Larsen’s Passing, Michelle Cliff ’s Free Enterprise and Zadie Smith’s Swing Time – Kerry-Jane Wallart
  • About the Authors/ Editors
  • Index
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