Music and movies final paper

Submitted By jmeir210
Words: 1609
Pages: 7

Joshua Kornegay
Music and Films Final paper

“African Americans have had a long and rather complex history in the American motion picture industry. Early depictions of African American men and women were confined to demeaning stereotypical images of people of color. During the first decades of the 20th century, many films depicted a nostalgic and idealized vision of life in the antebellum South. Memories of the Civil War were still fresh, and these films served as a means for creating some measure of reconciliation between the North and South by glorifying the image of the Old South and its “Lost Cause.” African American characters, in keeping with the dominant stereotypes, were portrayed as incompetent, child-like, hyper-sexualized, and criminal.”(http://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/africanamericansinfilm) A few films made their way to the forefront of my attention when discussing how Africans Americans were portrayed; as in the Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind. As I focused on how African Americans where portrayed in these films, I notice that all of the same stereotypes and discrimination was the same, of course being slightly different from other films depending on the time period of the movie. Adding in the music to these films enhances the emotion and drama between the characters and plots of the films, changing different time periods of the film, the music changes as well. I will be focusing on the culture of the films, the stereotypes, and media impact on our present day culture that the movies influenced. First, Birth of a Nation stood out for a few reasons. One being that this film was not the only film to use “blackface” to portray African Americans, but it caused so much uproar that it is still ongoing to students of films and movie lovers. “Even the roles for African Americans that might be seen as more positive--such as loyal servants, mammies, and butlers--reinforced a belief that the proper social position for Blacks was that of a servant who was unswervingly devoted to his/her White masters and to upholding the current social order.”
(http://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/africanamericansinfilm) Yet, all of the African Americans were in the back ground of the first part of the film which was set before and during the Civil War, the movie itself seemed to take a turn and focus on black people during the reconstruction phase of the South afterwards. The director depicts blacks as villains that take over the South and treat the land as if it were a playground for them to do as the pleased. Using carpetbaggers to help them assume control over the government, they use their powers to instill laws that allow interracial marriages and have whites to salute black soldiers. In certain parts of the film I notice cases of pure white girls being threatened by black men, which results in one suicide of a younger white woman who would have rather died than to have been married to a black man. “Although this portrayal of black people may seem over-the-top now, it would not have struck contemporary white audiences as at all unusual; as far as they were concerned, the circus that is the Reconstruction South in Birth of a Nation is exactly what they'd expect if black people had their way. As such, one can assume that Griffith agreed with this general sentiment—otherwise, why would it be such a major part of the film?” (http://patch.com) In fact, the depiction of blacks in this film is so heavily hated that today in the news another article was published on how the movie still raises racial tension, giving the facts on how it affected the culture and gave off false stereotypes that drove some situations in the U.S. In a situation like this we can see that an old film like this is still making waves upon the forever accumulating discuss about race and how blacks were portray not only in films but the media as well, the media also played a very big part in some of the stereotypes we deal with on a…