Thoughts on Tania Modleski's "Cinema and the Dark Continent: Race and Gender in Popular Film"

Topics: Black people, Miscegenation, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 1 (284 words) Published: April 28, 2005
Tania Modleski's "Cinema and the Dark Continent: Race
and Gender in Popular Film," discusses how popular film
perpetuates stereotypes of black women. Some controlling
images of black women include: the mammy, the jezebel, and
the sapphire. While Modelski doesn't analyze the sapphire
stereotype, she does use Whoppi Goldberg's past film roles as examples of the nurturing and maternal mammy and the over-
sexualized jezebel. While I could clearly see Modelski's
comparison of Goldberg's roles and black women's stereotypes, I could not as easily accept her theories on "Gorillas in the Mist" and "King Kong."
Modelski says the gorillas in "Gorillas in the Mist"
and "King Kong" represent issues surrounding the stereotype of a violently sex-crazed black man and of miscegenation. I don't feel when bringing Dian Fossey's life to the film the screenwriters intended to allude to a sexual relationship

between Fossey and Digit. While I can see how sexual
overtones can be inferred from over-analyzation, I just don't find it highly probable. It is more probable to see an
analogous relationship between King Kong and the stereotype of the black male rapist.
When looking at the films deeper than their face
value it is easy to say they reflect white fears and
stereotypes of black men and women. I would be interested to hear Modeleski's views on the recent "sista" films
like "Waiting to Exhale" and "How Stella Got her Groove back, films marketed towards black women; these films also depict the sapphire or black woman who is sarcastic and
emasculating. I think she would not find these so-
called "for women, by women" films beneficial towards the
ending stereotypes.
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