Essay Example on The Birth of a Nation a film released by D W Griffith in 1915

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The Birth of a Nation a film released by D W Griffith in 1915 which reinforced the Ku Klux Klan a white supremacist group as the saviours of white women from black men who driven by sexual desire after the end of slavery in the southern United States Perhaps it is best to say that this is the most anti black film ever made however it brings a huge improvement in the art of film making and television shows In this sense the representations in mainstream media can both register and contribute to the shifting political cultural climate of race Cottle 2000 p 11 The Cosby Show US 1984 1992 is one of the most popular sitcoms that capture wide audiences in America and South Africa works as a site of resistance through the articulation of alternative representations of African Americans The show has been credited for its positive depictions of successful middle class and highly educated black family that help in enlightening race relations According to Hall 1973 by giving audience members the ability to be oppositional readers this may lead to new possibilities of challenging dominant hierarchies and ideology around African American community In fact many black and non white postcolonial audiences express their affinity with The Cosby Show because of a mutual history of racial colonial exploitation and contemporary class oppressions that derive from the past Spivak 1990 Though The Cosby Show has overcome previous racist stereotypes however there are still complexities in its politics of representations of blackness 



According to Jhally and Lewis 1992 it can be seen as either social progressive or as a defence against previous racist practices In this sense these images can be quite ambiguous as the show is simply installing new characteristics into the representation of black community however do not mirroring the realistic imaginary of typical African American family This form of representation is similar to fictions they are created to serve as substitutions standing in for what is real They are there not to tell it like it is but to invite and encourage pretense They are a fantasy a projection onto the Other that makes them less threatening Hooks 1992 p 170 Even though the representation of black Americans in The Cosby Show may be too exceptional and unrealistic but by making these depictions publicly available it allows the society to understand race issue and response to it The positive depictions of the Huxtable family also work as a progressive force where it inspires the black community to see and construct positive images on themselves and others As Downing 1988 explains the upper middle class setting of the show is not simply a matter of blanking out the ugly realities of continuing oppression but also of offering some sense of resolution to the grinding realities of racial tension and mistrust in the United States p 70 As a result The Cosby Show offers a potential to move beyond traditional racism by representing African Americans in a more positive way for the purpose of creating an impression of black social advance and thus undermine black claims on white resources and sympathies Cottle 2000 From this perspective dominant racialized representations possibly may be contested and challenged Hip Hop as Resistance As Hall 1998 describes popular culture works either as a form of containment or a strategy of resistance 



Though most of the representations and productions of popular culture are controlled by the dominant group but Foucault 2009 argues that power does not only derive from top down it exists everywhere and can be used by anyone even by those who are oppressed In this case black community often become the targets of oppression by white people However it is believe that black popular culture offers a promising space of resisting racial domination expressing hope experiences struggles and articulating oppositional identities In Stuart Hall's What is This Black in Black Popular Culture 1992 he describes the black repertoires of which black popular culture originates as including style music and the use of the body as a canvas of representation Together these repertoires construct a black aesthetic which Hall 1992 defines as the distinctive cultural repertoires out of which popular representations of diaspora Blacks are made p 290 Rap music and hip hop in particular have always been the central part of black cultures in which deliberations of race expression and alteration of racial meanings could be achieved Hip hop culture includes several foundational elements such as graffiti breakdance DJ ing and rap music According to Neal 1999 Hip Hop emerged as the one of the first black popular music form to develop largely unmediated by communal critique from the formal and informal structures of the traditional Black Public Sphere p 160 In this way hip hop or rap music not only works as a creative agent but also as a cultural expression that prioritizes black voices from the margin of urban America Rose 1994 p 2 As Duncombe 2002 explains Both the culture we enjoy and the culture in which we live provide us with ideas of how things are and how they should be frameworks through which to interpret reality and possibility They help us account for the past make sense of the present and dream of the future p 35 In this sense hip hop provides ideas to African Americans youth and inspires them to find solutions for the means of transformation as well as defying the oppression and discrimination


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