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Y200 Politics and Film, Lecture #1 …

Y200 Politics and Film, Lecture #1
March 8, 2011

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  • 1. March 8, 2011
  • 2. The Politics of Difference in Films  Race  Gender  Sexual Preference  Religion The issue here is whether Hollywood-made or other types of films can directly confront these types of issues -- and, if so, under what conditions.
  • 3. Race Relations in Films How are the different races portrayed on film?  Roles played by actors of different races  Types of scripts selected for films about race relations (or seemingly unrelated topics)  Directors and producers of different races? How has Hollywood tried to make amends for its history of reinforcing racism?
  • 4. Examples of Films about African-Americans Roots (1977) Contrast The Color Purple (1985) these films Driving Miss Daisy (1989) with earlier films that Do the Right Thing (1989) contained Boyz N the Hood (1991) basically racist New Jack City (1991) ideas: Malcolm X (1992) e.g. Step ‘n Fetchit or Amos and Andy Amistad (1997) characters
  • 5. Films about Racism Gentlemen’s Agreement Chocolat World of Suzie Wong The Hurricane Men of Honor Jungle Fever Mississippi Masala American History X Crash
  • 6. Major African-American Actors/Actresses Paul Robeson Dorothy Dandridge Sidney Poitier Denzel Washington Lawrence Fishburn Halle Berry Morgan Freeman Jamie Foxx Forest Whitaker
  • 7. African-American Directors Spike Lee Melvin Van Peebles Mario Van Peebles Gordon Parks John Singleton Robert Townsend Reginald Hudlin Oz Scott
  • 8. Gender Issues How are women portrayed (as opposed to men)?  Types of roles played by actresses  Types of scripts selected which deal with gender-related issues How has Hollywood tried to atone for past misdeeds in this area?
  • 9. Key Ideas of Liberal Feminism inFilm Studies Symbolic annihilation through the under- representation of women in films and other popular culture media. Use of content analysis techniques to demonstrate the above. In particular, under-representation of working and professional women in TV shows and movies.
  • 10. Female Directors Leni Riefenstahl So far, there are no Elaine May female directors with Lina Wertmuller a record of multiple Kathryn Bigelow blockbuster films -- Diane Kurys mainly because most Jodie Foster female directors have Barbara Streisand not been allowed to Nora Ephron direct more than a Kathryn Bigelow few films.
  • 11. Definition of Patriarchy “…a set of social relations between men, which have a material base, and which, though hierarchical, establish or create interdependence and solidarity among men that enable them to dominate women…” Source: H. Baehr as quoted in Strinati, p. 198
  • 12. Feminist Films?  Woman of the Year (1942)  Nine to Five (1980)  The World According to Garp (1982)  Fatal Attraction (1987)  Blue Steel (1990)  Thelma and Louise (1991)  G.I. Jane (1997)
  • 13. Happy Hooker Movies Never on Sunday Klute Risky Business Private Lessons The Gift Pretty Woman One of the last bastions of patriarchy: the idea that prostitutes like their jobs and are happy individuals.
  • 14. Female Envy and Role ReversalFilms Some Like It Hot Tootsie Mrs. Doubtfire Mr. Mom The Bird Cage (La Cage aux Folles) What these films have in common is the representation of males in traditional female roles and (in some of them) males masquerading as females.
  • 15. Selfish Mother Movies Kramer vs. Kramer Ordinary People The World According to Garp One True Thing Here the main question is how films portray motherhood in an age of increased visibility of feminism.
  • 16. Families: Functional or Dysfunctional? Prevalence of divorce in U.S. society Changing gender roles Dealing with mental illness and disability inside the family Teenage rebellion Child abuse How do Hollywood films deal with these issues?

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