Ethnic Notions: Film Response

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Ethnic Notions: Film Response
The 1987 film documentary Ethnic Notions directed by Marlon Riggs, identifies the evolution of African American cultural depictions through ethnic stereotypes and caricatures in American culture. I feel Ethnic Notions exposes the roots of false generalization from the beginning and presents a series of classifications for racial depictions that still are noticeable in today's society. These racial depictions identified with in this film begin in the mid 1800's and continue thought to the 1960's. I now after viewing Ethnic notions agree that there are generalizations and depictions that are exaggerated in American popular culture and entertainment.

Ethnic Notions properly documents racial stereotypes though out this film using cultural evidence and supporting opinions of members with in this field of study. In addition Ethnic Notions uproots many popular depictions and presents them clearly using firm supporting evidence. Evidence such as American films, poems, books, songs, forms of dance, and depictive objects are used to show and present these descriptions to the viewer. Ethnic notions Touches upon the beliefs that these ethnic stereotypes and caricatures subliminally taint American popular culture with a dark raciest shadow. Also Ethnic Notions suggest theses distinctions indirectly support segregation, wile acting as a form of cultural entertainment. The main focus in Ethic Notion is clear through out the film, ethnic stereotypes are present with in popular American Culture.

From the civil war era to the late 1960's Ethnic Notions traces African American depictions and illustrates the connection between these depictions and popular culture. Ethnic notions portrayed six major ethnic depictions, the Mammy, the Sambo, the Zip Coon, the Uncle, and the Black Rambo.

Portrayed as a simple, docile, laughing black man, the Sambo is viewed to be one of the first stereotypical depictions. Most noticed in the late 1820's, inspired by a African slave dance form called the Jim Crow, the Sambo hit American pop culture in the form of minstrel performers. Minstrel performers where as the film described, a group of white Caucasians that would perform with black face paint and mock African Americans. This form of entertainment grew popular and provided one of the strongest depiction of the Sambo. Right next to the Sambo was the Zip Coon, a dandy, and a buffoon, a Zip Coon would attempt to imitate whites. But with poor grammar and with little to no intelligents the Zip Coon's attempts proved to be a nothing more then a racist mockery. Therefor creating a generalization of Stupidity with in the African American population and creating a notion of Racial inequality. Also with the Sambo and Zip Coon was the Mammy. The mammy is described and viewed as a jolly, obese, African American women, the strongest Mammy depiction was first evident in the film Judge Priest in 1934. The Uncle figure was depicted in similar nature as the Mammy but in male form and a depiction called the Pickaninny provided a generalization of silly and worthless African American Child.

All of these happy and silly depictions skewed America's view of slavery and presented a happy vision, a vision where one would believe that African Americans enjoyed being enslaved. Then as time went on slavery was abolished and civil rights moved forward. The popular depictions of African Americans then moved away from the unintelligent, yet happy and joyful African Americans to the depiction of the unintelligent violent African American. This depiction is classified by Ethnic notions as the Black Rambo. This is the African American that engages in acts of violence and sometimes portrayed as uncivilized or animalistic. These depictions are evident still today.

Although there are other depictions these are six a best defined with in the film as the major stereotypes. I agree with a majority of the views projected in ethnic notions, I agree...
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