Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywood's Construction of Afro-American Culture

By Vincent F. Rocchio | Go to book overview

6
A World Apart
(from the World of Privilege)

Chapters 4 and 5 (on Driving Miss Daisy and Mississippi Burning) demonstrate that a film's being "against" racism does not prevent its signifying practice from participating in the process of racism. Rather, a film's incorporating and upholding the very structures and forms through which racism is conducted can counteract whatever antiracist message a specific signifying act might convey. Thus, both Driving Miss Daisy and Mississippi Burning end up reinforcing privilege by appropriating its structure and by articulating discourses of justification or legitimization. Each film looks at privilege from the position of privilege and thereby excludes the disenfranchised (in this case AfroAmerican culture).

The process of appropriating the structure of privilege within the text can also be described as using the language of the dominant. Language of the dominant refers to a specific culture's established and preferred system for representing reality. Here, language represents more than just words, expressing instead the whole range of signifying practices, styles, and forms by which dominant cultures represent themselves as a means of maintaining their positions of dominance, prominence, and/or influence through discourses of naturalization, justification, and legitimization. The manner in which both Driving Miss Daisy and Mississippi Burning speak through the language of the dominant and end up participating in the process of racism despite their opposition to it raises an important theoretical issue. Is it possible to speak from the place of privilege about privilege without maintaining privilege, or does using the language of the dominant in and of itself support the process of racism?

-117-

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Reel Racism: Confronting Hollywood's Construction of Afro-American Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Part One - Of Racism and Representation 1
  • 1 - Introduction: Revisiting Racism and Cinema 3
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - The Birth of 1 (racist) Notion(al) Cinema 29
  • Notes 53
  • Part Two - Cinema and the Maintenance of Privilege 55
  • 3 - The Gods Must Be Crazy (privileged, but Crazy) 57
  • Notes 73
  • 4 - Driving Miss Alisy (because She's White and I'M Not!) 75
  • Notes 93
  • 5 - Mississippi (and History) Burning 95
  • Notes 113
  • Part Three - Confronting Racism and Representation 115
  • 6 - A World Apart (from the World of Privilege) 117
  • Notes 135
  • 7 - School Daze and the Politics of Appropriation 137
  • Notes 151
  • 8 - Do the Right Thing: Style as Confrontation 153
  • Notes 172
  • 9 - Daughters of the Dust and the Figurative as Mode of Resistance 173
  • Notes 189
  • 10 - The Great White Man of Lamberene and the Limits of Representation 191
  • Notes 210
  • Epiloque: Racism, - Representation, and the Role of Theory 211
  • Notes 216
  • Bibliography 219
  • Index 223
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