The Depiction of African-American males in Film and Advertising
Film is a source of media that has the ability to communicate visually; this form of communication however is flawed in its representation of African-American males. It is in understanding and deciphering the visual symbols and devices used in film or any visual medium that one can view knowledgeably, without dependence on misleading ideology represented for a consumer audience. It is in this way that one can determine what an authentic or fair representation entails. Like most things being produced there is often an audience in mind. A product rarely exists without a consumer, and unfortunately film tends to be produced for a lured paying audience by using shock value or deceptive visual clichés that promote stereotypes and misunderstanding. Sex, the idea of black mysticism, violence, and buffoonery seem to be just a few of the favored and repeated representations of African-Americans. Several years have passed since the blatantly racist and stereotypical minstrel shows of the 1940s, but the same ideas that they emulated are still seen today in a more deceptive and concealed fashion. In researching these similarities it will be possible to bring to peoples attention the visual ideas associated with such images and their affect on society.The problem is not always that these representations exist in film, but rather that there is not a breadth of representations available depicting African-Americans in various settings and lifestyles today or in the past. To show anyone in a limited view often encourages stereotypes or ideas to be misconstrued.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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