Monday, June 24, 2013

I hope I did this right... Witch Doctors Then and Now

Mystical Black Characters Play Complex Cinematic Role by Rita Kempley claims that this the super-duper mythical negroes are stereotyping the black community of the world by giving example of movie stars such as Queen Latifah in her role in Bringing Down The House as a "less than dignified and racially demeaning performance" where Queen Latifah helps a white guy get his groove back, proving that "they materiales, only to rescue the better drawn white character." Rita Kempley states (page 313 paragraph 7) Some times media used a pawn such as Whoopi Goldberg as the psychic in Ghosts to help move the story along, a connection from the living to the death side through her.
"Whoever is king of the jungle is only going to listen to someone perceived as an equal" Rita Kempley says in (page 314, paragraph 3) In KSM,  where Umbopa plays the role of this stereotype, helping the white men to achieve their goals. When he states that he is an equal Quatermain just laughs.With his snake tattoo that symbolizes his role as rightful king, then and only then Quatermain gives Umbopa the respect he deserves. Lets look at Harry Potter where he is a white magical being with a lightening bolt scar and lets see how the country reacts Just like Bringing Down The House both movies made a buck load of money. Perhaps it’s not the role of the magical black person but the real of the magic itself we are drawn into.
Critics get paid to write reviews of movies, it is necessary for them to voice their opinions to give us a little bit more of an understanding of the movie we want to see.  So shifting blame on the critics is just trying to cover up for the fact that society is drawn into that magical role. The culture of which KSM is drawing us into much like of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls is where Jim Carrey goes into an African jungle in search of a missing bat (need I say more, I think we all know what happens in this movie and back to KSM) a group of men travel the unknown in Africa where they end up in Kukuanaland,  where they watch the great dance and witch hunt ritual.
Quatermain and the gang are invited to watch the great dance where hundreds of men will die for they have any type of evil in their blood. The magical elder women dancer has a sense of smell that picks up a sense of those who deserve to die. The name of this women went by Isanusis (The Witch Doctresses)  (page 102 - 105).  This scene goes well with Mystical Black Characters Play Complex Cinematic Role by Rita Kempley, that American society has stereotyped the role of a portrayed as “super-duper magical negro.” But this is supposed to be culture of the tribe at the time, so this image of super-duper spiritual black person should be looked at as respectable. The men in KSM feared this spiritual being but yet in todays world we do not fear this, we are entertained by this figure and at the same time, we are insulted when it should bethat we respect the role.  
KSM is fulled with this magical black symbolism, from women witch doctors, to Twala the King or Umbopa who helps the white men through their journey. The way Hollywood interprets these stereotypes as profitable but also degrading to some levels. Such as Rita Kempleys example of Queen Latifah's role in Bringing Down The House by stating that Aaron McGruder the creator of The Boondocks comics claims that “ Almighty Council of Blackness has unanimously voted to revoke your Queen’s status” (page 313, paragraph 4). Aaron McGruder is angry that Latifah would do such a role. A role like this does not do anything good in the eye of the public it is just making this stereotype worst, digging the hole deeper instead of working to change it. I agree with Aaron McGruder. I’ve played the fool for so long just because it made life easier but somewhere along the lines the lie became the truth.
Some movies such as Scary Movie bases it’s premise on such jokes and in this case I find, it is acceptable because you know its a joke not to be taken seriously, besides these movies takes cheap shots at everyone it’s only polite to laugh. Movies that should be taken seriously with this type of stereotype such as The Green Mile with Michael Clark Duncan (R.I.P) may not be a joking movie but it is still respectable at least I think it, I enjoyed the movie. I didn’t even think of it in this light now that I’ve read Rita Kempleys article I see this movie a little differently. It comes down to separating the serious movies such as The Green Mile or the not so serious movies such as Undercover Brother in order to judge the value and whether a movie tells a good story. Ace Ventura is a great movie, "Bringing Down The House" is a funny movie and The Green Mile is an extraordinary movie. They are all creative and artistic in their own ways, shaping this magical character as long as it is done respectfully. 
The values that KSM brings the white men into a new land where the other values of this land reflecs other values, such as tradition instead of science. Such as the chain armor Qautermain and Captian recieved from the communty people symbolis this. They say that this type of armor is handed down from thier family. Values that Qautermain can relate to for it is his son that drives him on this journey. Perhaps this experience will show him a few other traditions it can help him grow as a person.


  1. really?! 6 views and noone wants to tell me how far off I am?! me no gusta!

    1. You're actually not that far off. You just jump around a lot! Try the simple organization we discussed in class: summarize, answer the question, and relate to KSM with smooth transitions in between. Than add in your own thoughts and examples (which are great by the way!).

      Also, I like your use of Gagool and her witch doctors as a kind of counterargument to Kempley's point. However, don't they still function as "magical negroes" in the way she describes?

    2. THANK YOU!! I'm going with this for the paper! :D

  2. Half the movies you mentioned, I haven't even seen. Now I feel like I'm living under a rock, but I completely agree with what you said about the film critics.

  3. Really? o.O These are the movies (ecept for Ave Ventura and Scary Movie) Rita Kempley speeks of in the article "Mystical Black Characters Play Complex Cinematic Role." It could also be because I'm a dork like that xD

  4. Just like you I never looked at the movies in the way rita Kempley stated, always looked at the entertainment value, but after reading her article, it makes me step back and analyze these movies. Also I feel the white men played the role of the "help" in assisting Ignosi (Umbopa) to his rightful position as king, not just him helping them to get the diamonds.