AfricanAmerican Representation In The Media Essay Research

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African-American Representation In The Media Essay, Research Paper In Jacqueline Bobo’s article, The Color Purple : Black Women as Cultural Readers, she discusses the way in which black women create meaning out of the mainstream text of the film The Color Purple. In Leslie B. Innis and Joe R. Feagin’s article, The Cosby Show : The View From the Black Middle Class, they are examining black middle-class responses to the portrayal of black family life on The Cosby Show. In their respective articles, Bobo, and Innis and Feagin are investigating the representation of race, particularly African American race, in the mass media. The chief concerns of their investigations lie in how African Americans deal with the way these representations portray them individually and their

social group as a whole. In this paper I will compare the issues in each study, analyze the larger sociopolitical implications of the media representations and apply a similar framework of concerns to my own reception analysis project. In Bobo’s article, the chief concerns of the author are “the savage and brutal depiction of black men in the film”, “black family instability”, and the way that black women embrace the film and use their own reconstructed meaning of it to “empower themselves and their social group,” (90,92). Film as a medium starts out with many potential limitations and problems when it comes to representing a whole race of people. No two people are exactly alike no matter what race they come from so there is no way one film can represent all

peoples. Unfortunately, many people believe that a certain depiction of black people characterizes all black people, which is certainly not the case. This is very dangerous because this perpetuates stereotyping and discrimination. The viewing public pays for movies and therefore movie directors have to tailor their product so that the majority of viewers will enjoy, and agree with the ideas behind the film. The majority almost always means white America so even African American based movies are made for white audiences. Because of this, the representations of blacks in the medium of film are almost always white ideas of who black people are, not who they really are. The film The Color Purple has been the center of controversy since it was made in 1985. Many people feel the film

is a terrible portrayal of black family life and that it is stereotypical in its depiction of black men as evil and brutal tyrants who imprison and mentally and verbally abuse woman. Consequently, most men despise the film and can not believe that so many women love it. The main purpose of Bobo’s article was to find out why black women loved it so much and what they saw as good about the film. What Bobo found out was that though many women loved it, they also saw that there were things inherently wrong with the way black males were portrayed. However, because black females were mostly portrayed in a positive light, the black female respondents felt that the film was good in that respect. According to Bobo, “Black women have demonstrated that they found something useful and

positive in the film,” (101). The women enjoyed seeing a woman rise up against abuse and take control of her life. They identified with the search for power and their own identity. The Color Purple presented a new type of feminism to black women who were used to seeing black female characters depicted as slaves, maids or mammies. Bobo found that though black women were aware “of the oppression and harm that comes from a negative media history . . .[they] are also aware that their specific experience, as black people, as women in a rigid class/caste state, has never been adequately dealt with in mainstream media,” (102). This was the main reason why the women liked the film so much. They were able to take their own past experiences and use those as a basis for their