Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Can't The Character Roles Be Switched For Once?

    In "Mystical Black Characters Play Complex Cinematic Role" by Rita Kempley she states "It isn't that the actors or the roles aren't likeable, valuable or redemptive, but they are without interior lives. For the most part, they materialize only to rescue the better drawn white characters." In this article Kempley basically explains the roles black characters play in films as the "magic negro". In these types of films the "magic negro" is the black character who helps the white character become a better person. Kempley is basically saying that these films shows that helping white characters are the black characters only purpose in these films.
    Kempley takes a dim view of the "magic negro" stereotype. She cites critics who see "sinister forces in such portrayals" (par. 20). Yet she also quotes a screenwriting teacher who claims: "You can't expect writers to think like sociologists. They aren't out there trying to change the world; they are just trying to tell a good story" (par. 25). No writers aren't sociologists. This is true but if your trying to tell a good story you should also try not to be racist and make it seem as though black characters always have to help white characters on their journey. It wouldn't be bad to change the roles around once in awhile. Changing the roles simply just show that there is equality in the film making industry. Then people wouldn't have to think deep in to context. I think these images are significant in reflecting cultural attitudes simply because it makes people or the audience see these films in a different perspective. It shows them how writers really portray how black characters should be in our culture today. In a way it isn't useful to judge movies in this way because you wouldn't be able to enjoy the film as much.
    In "King Solomon's Mines" by H. Rider Haggard the mystical black character is Umbopa also known as Ignosi. He helps the three white characters which are Sir Curtis Henry, Allan Quatermain, and Captain John Good on their journey to find Sir Curtis Henry's brother. The twist is that he is the heir to the throne and needs their help to defeat the King. In film's like the ones Rita Kempley states in "Mystical Black Characters Play Complex Cinematic Role" the black characters are usually the ones to help the white characters find their path. "The black character helps the white character demonstrates that (the former) feels this incredible interest in maintaining the existing society. Since there is no cultural interchange, the character is put there to give the illusion that there is cultural crossover to satisfy that need without actually addressing the issue."(Dorfman, 314)

1 comment:

  1. You end with a quote describing the "magical negro." Are you saying that describes Umbopa or not? It's unclear.

    Aside from that, this is great!