Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Heroes in hard times, and Framing Blackness

After reading both of the assigned readings I was a little disappointed, to say the least. "Heroes in Hard Time" was a struggle. The author seems to be trying to prove his merit by citing as many examples as possible and showing his all-encompassing knowledge of the hundreds of films he has seen. He constanlty throws statistics at the reader in order to show how few "heroes" are non-white , or how few "bad guys" are non-white females, or how few sidekicks are white males, etc, etc. The first chapters seemed very repetitive, with certain scenes refrenced many times. The last chapter was different and slightly more..... interesting (maybe?). The shock value was definitely high, as the discussion turned to homoeroticism and sodomy. Apparently cop movies are a way of displacing or gratifying homoerotic desires. Seems like a bit of a stretch to me, and I was initially put off by the graphic nature of some of the descriptions and interpretations. The author never quite convinced me, despite his in depth summary of various movies (ad nauseum). Not a fun read for me.

Framing Blackness was much easier to get through; I found the style, examples and diction much more reader friendly. The tone was the off putting part. The author seems to be constantly attacking hollywood and white viewers, for their desire to keep non whites out of the film making industry and out of movies, or he is constanlty defending the African American film makers and population. I run the risk of sounding politically incorrect, but i feel that the author was finding hidden meanings that were not meant to be found, simply because he is an African American. He is essentially trying to critique racist americans by critiquing racist american films. I never viewed 'Gremlins' as an attack on chinese immigrants, or thought "Star Wars" and "Home Alone" had anything to do with racism. It may be that i don't have the same eye for allegory that this author does, but i still feel the claims he make are hard to substantiate. I found the chapters on blaxploitation very informative and interesting. Some of the movie titles and premises sound quite absurd.... "Sweet Sweetback's Badass ride"? Not sure that's on my list of movies to rent.... I guess i enjoyed the book as a whole, but found some of the opinions hard to swallow. Maybe it's the racist white American in me..... I doubt it


Blogger Gordon said...

Yeah, if you couldn't tell from my post on "Heroes..." the author never convinced me either. In fact I think that a lot of his quotes are out of place.

Also, I just thought about this, but his use of the word "sidekick" is interesting. He expects anyone that the hero is with to be just as good as the hero, be it a stripper (as seen in Under Seige) a cop (pick your movie of choice) or anything else.

Thats 2 negative reviews of "Hard Times..." did anyone actually like this book?

My thoughts on Framing Blackness is that any writer that tries to convince me that Star Wars is racist is on crack. Some parts were interesting, but I definately agree with Tibbs, a lot of the examples were reaches, at best.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Vladigogo said...

Just a quick comment on "Sweetback"--we have it in the library (it is taught in another class)--and last year there was a movie made by van Peebles son about his father and the making of the film. Evidently--and I have not seen it--the film about the film is quite well done.

And while I haven't seen "Sweetback" the narrative as described the author is similar to some of the best known African-American novels of the 20th century.

9:33 AM  
Blogger elle are kay said...

Alright, so I have to agree and say that "Heroes in Hard Times" is a pretty hard book to get through. To me, all is consists of so far is the author pointing out examples of certain situations having to do with social status, race, gender, etc. within the genre and then telling what movie it is from. Although the examples presented might mean something, it seems as though it is more important for the author to cite as many as possible instead of really diving in to one specific topic. Maybe it's supposed to be like that... either way, it's taken some real concentration to get through.

"Framing Blackness" is a much more interesting read. Instead of simply pulling examples from lots of different movies, I like how the author encompasses ideas behind the movie and how it impacted society. I'll post more when I'm finished, but so far "Framing Blackness" is more informative and interesting to read.

4:20 PM  

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