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Minorities in Films

Essay by   •  February 12, 2018  •  Essay  •  1,059 Words (5 Pages)  •  728 Views

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        I often find myself thinking about how racism was pre-civil war era, and then I quickly remind myself that we might as well re –living the past from all the tension surrounding the topic. Since the inauguration of our very fist African American president, it’s as if we re-opened the wound, the racist wound that haunts all minorities. Fights for basic human treatment and rights are almost absurd to think about but it is almost an everyday issue for all who are minorities. Media and films are often the window for many to really get a view of how race and ethnicity affect our world. For many individuals who are considered a minority, it doesn’t always necessarily mean that we are mistreated or feel suppressed. That is, until we realize that the only Latinas on film we look up to are those who play the cleaning ladies at some rich white woman’s house. This is what I grew up idolizing. Thinking that maybe, if I work hard enough I don’t have to be some white lady’s cleaning lady, or maybe I do want to because they offer security, and even sometimes an opportunity to a better life because they always have the “right connections”. This is exactly how woman of color are being portrayed in films since the beginning of time, even today that we are the most ethically advanced society of history. It doesn’t only pertain to Latinx but all minorities and races and ethnicities around the world. The fact that we are so underrepresented yet still so fetish-ly sought by many, is a scary thought for generations to come.

        Bell Hook’s Black Looks, she examines and explains what many people of color or really just those seeking to earn respect in a rebellious way through a gaze, the oppositional gaze. This term is just that: opposing. Learning how to look directly and rebelliously into their opponent’s eyes and say “I deserve this, so what?” and encouraging black women not to accept stereotypes in film, but actively critique them. She starts off by describing the typical scenario of an innocent child staring way longer than they should, and she strategically brings race into the picture. She explains how minorities must learn to master this gaze in order to fight for what they deserve. In films, many actors and actresses have to learn how demand decent roles outside of stereotypes. But it seems as if even if they demand roles that technically belong to them for example in the video “Yellowface is a bad look, Hollywood” by Vox, they explain how even roles still end up in the hands of white actors. How is Hollywood getting away with this? Us as the viewers and consumers of the hundreds of movies that come out, we are essentially supporting these normalizations of Hollywood’s “white-washing”. Although it is not as apparent and brutal as “blackfacing” like in The Birth of a Nation (1950), the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of minorities in films is very present in today’s films.

        The main example I will refer to in this essay will be from the film Friday (1995). This film was and still is a very massively successful movie. Although this movie is categorized as a “Black Film” it has been more recently popular amongst white folks because of the normalization of marijuana smoking and the very famous phrase “bye Felicia!” In this film we can see nearly every example of the stereotypical role of both black men and females actors. We see the Jezebel being played by Nia Long who plays Debbie, as well as Kathleen Bradley who plays Mrs. Parker. Paula Jai Parker who is Ice Cube’s girlfriend in the film portrays the Sapphire in the movie. Men stereotypes are also very predominant in this film, like Smokey (Chris Tucker), Craig (Ice Cube) and Deebo (Tommy Lister) who portray the Coons of the film. Even though the director is an African American male, the stereotypes of blacks are so deep in this film it is almost paradoxical.

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