Ethnic Notions Analysis

Pages: 5 (1082 words) Published: March 25, 2018


The film Ethnic Notions is a documentary about the developments and effects of Black stereotypes throughout U.S. history. It touches on imagery which kept African Americans oppressed in the eyes of popular culture. Ethnic Notions trace caricatures in stories, children books, animations, theatre, and other forms of popular media. Caricatures serve as a catalyst to sustaining an America that sees African Americans in an unfavorable light. The theme throughout this documentary is dehumanization of African Americans. Finally, the documentary concerns itself with the dehumanization of Americans through stereotypes and racially charged objects because these elements have contributed to a misrepresentation of African Americans.
Ethnic Notions demonstrated society’s ability to uphold demoralizing...

Ethnic Notions engaged the viewer was with different voices chiming in on different stages of U.S. History and associated cultural reactions with caricatures. The narrators connected these images to insightful commentary like the video of an animated tribal black community and the comments were “a nineteenth century cliché…Africa was the dark continent where civilization made the least progress” (Ethnic Notions). The presentation of “blacks are savages” would not have sufficed in giving a comprehensive look on the stigma that surrounded Africa without the commentary (Ethnic Notions). Caricatures went to a far extent to make an African American seem less than human with ”big mouths, big ears, oversized hands and feet, sloping foreheads and behaving in exaggerated and ridiculous fashion” (Hsiung 103). These caricatures reduced a “complex regional society that is peopled by diverse groups” into elaborately disproportional figures. Dehumanization reinforced through depictions; the narrators understand this imagery is pervasive in hurting the image of African Americans and their livelihoods (Hsiung...
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