Sample Essay On African-American Women In Films
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The movement for racial and gender equality is steadily making an impact in the professional world, particularly in the entertainment industry. As more and more women and African-Americans rise to power in the United States (the country itself being led by such power African-American family), previous stereotypical bias against them are slowly breaking down. It is not fast enough for this race that had endured so much discrimination in the whole of history, but the changes in their image in the society is highly notable, particularly in the film industry. From the scullery maids and prostitutes they are stereotyped into (Carter and Steiner, p270), they have evolved into more powerful representations, a new stereotype: the power women Jessica and Sapphire (Campbell, et al, p.2).
In "I Love New York", though Jessica and Sapphire do not agree with each other's methods, both are epitome of strength, the educated and sophisticated kind, not just the loud and brute kind - a level up from previous stereotype. It is a stereotype, nevertheless.
On one such recent film, Zoe Kravitz, only daughter of acclaimed musician Lenny Kravitz, enjoyed a main role with on a faint hint of racial stereotyping, but in her case, it still existed. She played a supporting role in the movie Divergent (2014), in which her character was strong-willed and lacking in filter when speaking. A bit toned down, but it tangents the “superbitch” stereotype on Black-African female roles – a hint of Sapphire stereotype. Her character, Christina, comes from a faction that "always tells the truth" even when people do not like to hear it. In the ranking for physical prowess, she passes in flying colors despite her small stature.
It is a defense mechanism to exude strength at all times for a race that faced discrimination for a long time. For the members of that race, they may grow very tired of the stereotype, as they are humans as well and would want to exhibit weakness now and then. And for the American audience in general, they may have conjured up this image that Black-Americans are all tough, and may find one who is as vulnerable as they are rather uncharacteristic. It is rather unfair.
Which brings one to question, one, are they really as tough as the films depict them? And two, how often do they show vulnerability to people around them?
Carter, C. and Steiner, L. Critical Readings: Media and Gender.
Campbell, S. et al. (2008), I Love New York: Does New York Love Me?
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