African American Women and Sexuality in the Cinema by Norma Manatu

By Norma Manatu

The illustration of African American ladies is a crucial factor within the total learn of the way girls are portrayed in movie, and has acquired severe awareness in recent times. frequently, "women of colour, " relatively African American girls, were on the margins of stories of womens on-screen depictions--or excluded altogether. This paintings focuses solely at the sexual objectification of African American girls in movie from the Eighties to the early 2000s. Critics of the detrimental sexual imagery have lengthy speculated that keep an eye on by means of African American filmmakers might swap how African American ladies are depicted. This paintings examines 16 motion pictures made by means of men either white and black to work out how the imagery could swap with the race of the filmmaker. 4 dimensions are given precise consciousness: the range of the womens roles and relationships with males, the sexual attitudes of the African American lady characters, their attitudes in the direction of males, and their nonverbal and verbal sexual behaviors. This paintings additionally examines the position tradition has performed in perpetuating the pictures, how movie affects audience notion of African American girls and their sexuality, and the way the imagery polarizes ladies through functioning as a regulator in their sexual behaviors in line with cultural definitions of the female.

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Extra info for African American Women and Sexuality in the Cinema

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The roles assigned to black women in film, she argues, “…represent the ambiguity between and the narrowness of … two categories … that of the bitch and that of the ‘ho’ ” (1992, p. 96). Cultural Ideology of the “Other” Though black women now appear in film in greater numbers and with greater frequency, such appearances are excessively limited to portrayals of the amoral Jezebel, superwoman (Collins, 1990), prostitute, and bitch. Films such as New Jack City, She’s Gotta Have It, The Bodyguard, and others are blatant examples of the permanence of the sexual imagery of black women.

And this 36 African American Women and Sexuality in the Cinema reinforcement has residual effects even when the stereotypes have begun to change” (p. 263). Thus, despite the diverse make-up of the American population, for example, film still captures and holds the imagination of cultural members at large because film is a “logical extension and recombination of existing elements in the folk-popular culture continuum” ( Jowett & Linton, 1980, p. 70). Moreover, because film is a “mass cultur[al] product … designed to please the average taste of an undifferentiated audience…” (p.

Bogle (1989) asserts that being closest both in color and features to the white beauty ideal, the tragic mulatto generally had a chance at lead roles. Dark- 1. Introduction and Overview 23 skinned actresses, however, were “considered for no [filmic] role but that of a mammy or an Aunt Jemima,” a practice which continued well into the 1960s (p. 15). Then, with the movie boom of the 1970s (Leab, 1975), especially Melvin Van Peebles’ defiant and successful film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971) which portrayed black women as overtly “sexual” (Bowser, 1981), the film medium appears to have recognized the economic potential in portraying black female characters as excessively oversexed.

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