Essay on The Representation Of African American Media
The representation of Africa and African people in popular American media has been a major concern in academic disciplines and the subject of numerous books and essays. Many scholars and activists have written about this issue seeking to introduce new knowledges and methodologies into the debate while taking into account the overwhelming evidence of the colonial influence on these representations. The debates and arguments are not restricted to Hollywood films (although Hollywood has a long history of producing films set in, and about Africa) but they are also great bodies of work encompassing the representations of Africa and its history in literature, journalism and television. As a result, this literature review aims to identify and examine relevant studies that have been conducted in the field of representations of Africa in Hollywood cinema.
1 Analysing racial representations in films: Methodological issues
According to Stam and Spence (1983), early filmic studies addressing racism and colonialism (e.g. Daniel Leab’s From Sambo to Superspade and Thomas’ Cripps’ Slow Fade to Black) tended to use the same methodologies focusing on certain dimensions of films such as ‘social portrayal, plot and character’ (1983:3). From the outset of their article, the authors present an interesting argument exposing the methodological flaws of those studies. Indeed, the latter were so concerned with misrepresentations, narrative credibility, negative stereotypes and…