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Y200 Politics and Film. October 25, 2011. 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.

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Y200 politics and film

Y200 Politics and Film

October 25, 2011

The politics of difference in films
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.

Race relations in films
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?

Examples of films about african americans and race relations
Examples of Films about African-Americans and Race Relations


these films

with earlier

films that


basically racist


e.g. Step ‘n Fetchit

or Amos and Andy


  • Roots (1977)

  • The Color Purple (1985)

  • Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

  • Do the Right Thing (1989)

  • Boyz N the Hood (1991)

  • New Jack City (1991)

  • Malcolm X (1992)

  • Amistad (1997)

Films about racism
Films about Racism

  • Gentlemen’s Agreement

  • Chocolat

  • World of Suzie Wong

  • The Hurricane

  • Men of Honor

  • Jungle Fever

  • Mississippi Masala

  • American History X

  • Crash

Major african american actors actresses
Major African-American Actors/Actresses

  • Paul Robeson

  • Dorothy Dandridge

  • Sidney Poitier

  • Denzel Washington

  • Lawrence Fishburn

  • Halle Berry

  • Morgan Freeman

  • Jamie Foxx

  • Forest Whitaker

African american directors
African-American Directors

  • Spike Lee

  • Melvin Van Peebles

  • Mario Van Peebles

  • Gordon Parks

  • John Singleton

  • Robert Townsend

  • Reginald Hudlin

  • Oz Scott

Gender issues
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?

Key ideas of liberal feminism in film studies
Key Ideas of Liberal Feminism in Film 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.

Female directors
Female Directors

  • Leni Riefenstahl

  • Elaine May

  • Lina Wertmuller

  • Kathryn Bigelow

  • Diane Kurys

  • Jodie Foster

  • Barbara Streisand

  • Nora Ephron

  • Kathryn Bigelow

So far, there are no

female directors with

a record of multiple

blockbuster films --

mainly because most

female directors have

not been allowed to

direct more than a

few films.

Definition of patriarchy
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

Feminist films
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)

Happy hooker movies
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.

Female envy and role reversal films
Female Envy and Role Reversal Films

  • 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.

Selfish mother movies
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.

Families functional or dysfunctional
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?