TREADING THE LINE BETWEEN INDUSTRY REACTIONISM AND AUTHENTICITY

Kayla Tubera

Comm 137 Spr 2016

Within the film industry, black women filmmakers are forced to be cautious of the boundaries of creating art in response to industry reactionism versus contesting outside influences to dictate their art.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition, reactionism or being reactionary is, “relating to, marked by, or favoring reaction; especially: ultraconservative in politics” (merriam-webster.com).  To thoroughly explain this definition, reactionism is a type of political viewpoint in which a group of people is rejecting progress.  The popularized structure of Hollywood films is valued over new media or anything outside of what that structure is, which is a resemblance of what reactionism is.  This is an obstacle that must be overcome by filmmakers, especially for black women filmmakers when trying to portray the black experience through their own depictions.  When this is done, criticisms of their works are addressed and are done so because of the depiction of politics that derive from prototypes.  Because of these depictions, black women filmmakers are put into a vulnerable position of receiving harsh criticisms for simply trying to illustrate truth and identity of the self or the self amongst the black experience.  The criticisms black women filmmakers receive from film industry leaders and critics resemble reactionism perfectly as these leaders become fearful of change the structure they created that makes the works and identities of these women invisible at the same time.

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An example of this is Ava DuVernay’s approach to directing and screenwriting Selma.  As DuVernay had the opportunity to direct the film, she took it upon herself to not depict the reality of Dr. Martin Luther King of this historical time period, however she made the film more subjective to African Americans.  She did this by portraying how she thinks he may have felt and designing the film with more perspective to the black experience.  Ava DuVernay is known as an independent filmmaker.  By having this label, DuVernay has been able to navigate through the reactionism of the film industry with her own authentic experiences and honest quality of art portrayed in her films.  When working with Selma, DuVernay was able to navigate away from the effects of reactionists views of critics.  DuVernay had the advantage of depicting the Selma in the light of the black experience that was honest to herself and own experiences that she endured.  She never compromised the quality of the film and disregarded the constraints of Hollywood pressures.  As an independent filmmaker, she was the best choice for directing Selma since she was able to wear several hats and not become overwhelmed to feel constrained to these roles.  DuVernay depicted President Lyndon B. Johnson from a black perspective, which she received criticism for.  

Criticisms of the film made by David Edelstein suggest that DuVernay’s portrayal of Johnson display historical inaccuracies.  In comparison to DuVernay’s portrayal of Johnson shaped in the lens of the black perspective, Edelstein suggests that although he was in fact manipulative, DuVernay failed in a sense to show that he was an avid supporter of African American’s voting rights, “…but he was a persistent and masterly behind-the-scenes manipulator.  He fought passionately for voting rights without any push from King” (Edelstein).  He continues his criticism, ”Selma” is still a great move.  The LBJ-King scenes are taught, each giant staking out his claim” (Edelstein).  

However, she disregarded such criticisms in order to focus more on the important roles of other characters that illuminated the black experience.  By continuing to make the film within the lens of her own experiences and aligning those experiences to the black experience, she focused on people in the film that surrounded Dr. Martin Luther King in order to give agency and visibility to their roles in support of him.  Ava focuses on individual members of the Southern Leadership Christian Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.  On a logistic level, DuVernay created an emotional arc through the representation of these characters by creating a context for most of these individuals.  She created a story of the people and their emotional journeys in order to let the audience feel struggle for personal dignity through a narrative of surviving the South at that time.

In further discussing DuVernay’s framework for Selma, online article written by Laura Berger analyzes an interview with the filmmaker on ‘60 Minutes’ as she describes her intentions opening doors for more black women filmmakers and not creating a white savior film.  In making Selma, DuVernay explains how she did not intend to make a white savior film.  She wanted to explore the interests and visibility for people of color.  She explains in the interview, “We do not have to have someone sweeping in on a white horse or someone saving the day or assisting us in our own narrative” (Berger).  Further into the article, Berger quotes DuVernay explaining how she is capable of opening doors for more filmmakers to illustrate their authenticities through film but she can’t be the only one doing so on her own.  She explains, “Because I can open a door, but if there’s no one coming through it or if the door is allowed to close right after me, it doesn’t mean much” (Berger).  Berger further explains the meaning behind Duvernay’s analogy by saying how she is capable of creating more opportunities for other filmmakers, particularly filmmakers of color, to create changed narratives as she did with Selma, it’s just a matter of who is willing to follow those same courageous footsteps.  

Overall, DuVernay is an example of not responding to reactionism within the film industry and does so with perseverance and disregard to criticisms that are not true to her works but rather true to her own portrayals of black experience.  In some instances, the pressures of these film industry leaders lead towards certain filmmakers feeling obliged to respond to reactionism.  Reacting to reactionary views is also a form of validation.  When it comes down to responding versus not responding to reactionism within the film industry, one must look at the intent of the filmmaker. When looking at the films in Siren Spirits such as White Men Are Cracking Up, the stance that director Ngozi Onwurah treads between reacting to reactionism versus not considering criticisms to dictate her work, lean more towards reacting to reactionism.  Simply looking at the title of the first film exerts a notion of a power dynamic between the race and gender of the central character, Maisie Blue and the white men she interacts with.  The suicidal white men she comes into contact with fetish and fantasize over her seductions prior to committing suicide.  The detective that follows her every move then also becomes victim to her as he too suffers from personal issues of his own just like the white men Maisie has previously seduced.  The overall content of the film is representative of contesting to white male dominance over women and women of color and also understanding the power the female body has over them in a psychological and physical state.  The film overall challenges diversity dilemmas by illustrating inversions of power of the female body and using that power to manipulate the gaze of white males.  The quality of film I would argue is also reaction to reactionism as it is formatted in a non-Hollywood fashion.

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Ngozi Onwurah’s work in the film White Men Are Cracking Up is an example of reacting to reactionism.  The stance that director Onwurah treads between reacting to reactionism versus not considering criticisms to dictate her work, lean more towards reacting to reactionism.  Simply looking at the title of the first film exerts a notion of a power dynamic between the race and gender of the central character, Maisie Blue and the white men she interacts with.  The suicidal white men she comes into contact with fetish and fantasize over her seductions prior to committing suicide.  The detective that follows her every move then also becomes victim to her as he too suffers from personal issues of his own just like the white men Maisie has previously seduced.  The overall content of the film is representative of contesting to white male dominance over women and women of color and also understanding the power the female body has over them in a psychological and physical state.  The film overall challenges diversity dilemmas by illustrating inversions of power of the female body and using that power to manipulate the gaze of white males to women of color.  The quality of film I would also argue is reaction to reactionism as it is formatted in a non-Hollywood fashion.  The grainy VHS quality is a way to emphasize that the film does not conform to Hollywood film standards.

 

Works Cited

Berger, Laura. “Watch: Ava DuVernay’s ‘60 Minutes’ Interview on Opening Doors and White Savior Films.” IndieWire. Web. 8 June 2016.

 

Edelstein, David. “The ‘Selma’ Criticism For How It Portrays Lyndon B. Johnson: Is It Fair?” KPBS RADIO. NPR. 9 Jan. 2015. Radio. Transcript.
Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 08 June 2016.

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HISTORY VS. HERSTORY

Kayla Tubera

Comm 137 Sp 2016

The depictions of history versus herstory in film are still depicted and surrounded by the histories of men.  The reality of our lives are impacted by societal impositions.  However, when talking about Belle, black feminists give women a voice by taking ownership of a role in society, just as Belle became/was depicted as a universal story that was acknowledged and important to any female filmmaker.  When depicting herstories in film, just as the filmmakers for Belle did, it is to represent how our stories as women are cross cultural and also show how we do not default to male validation and have solidarity.  

Looking at an interview with Asante, the filmmaker emphasizes how she didn’t want to create a film that was simply set as a love story however an intersection of politics, history and art history, “…by looking at the painting I got the opportunity to tell a story that combines politics, art, and history.  Never mind the sort of, kind of, love story.”  She continues on by saying, “So, for me, looking at the history of the painting compelled me to want to give Dido a voice” (“Interview with BELLE director Amma Asante”).  

When talking about history specifically, you can imagine it in comparison to reading books.  For instance, when reading, one can only look at the framework of one person which then brings the “death of an author”.  Just like reading accounts of history/herstory is indeed the same concept because people tend to understand things into their own perspectives which can erase or misconstrue truths of history as well as accounts of that particular person’s account of their own histories.  The overarching question from that small discussion made me think what is actually true when there could be undercurrents that are not talked about?  

When looking at Illusions, this practice of telling a message rather than a story is both challenged.  It challenges the validation and lack of women of color and generally women to work in an industry that is male dominated while denying essence/voices in those industries.  Through this short film, Dash was able to depict the “illusion” in which African Americans in the film industry were not given visibility and through this film she has done so as a way to re-write history in a sense (Felton). Relating this to the concept of the veil, what we see in films/on screen is not presented to what happens behind the scenes of such industries.  This is depicted in the film as the main character, Mignon, was able to wear a “mask” in which her lighter skin color disguises her true identity as an African American woman which allows her to “pass” in an industry consumed with institutionalized racism.  This is also portrayed with Esther, the voice over singer, in which the illusion between the audience and the screen is broken down (the fourth wall) in order for the audience to recognize a truth to a particular narrative.  In Esther’s case, it masks her identity as an African American woman as her voice replaces the voice of a white woman actress.  Illusions puts characters such as Mignon and Esther in a closet in fear of the dominant society finding out their true identities.  Overall the fictional film criticizes fictional films of Hollywood.  Upon speaking about the short film, Dash explains briefly in an interview her own mission statement for filmmaking, “…as a filmmaker I was going to redefine how we see African American women on the screen, their wants, their needs, their desires, their joys, their sorrows and all of these things that I was seeing that brought little or no relation to the people I knew and the women who raised me and I wanted to change that.” Further into her interview, Dash explains her narrative for Mignon Du Pre “…who’s this radical subversive super light skin black woman who is pretty much redefining how we see light skinned women out in the greater world…So that was my way of trying to subvert those old notions of just because you’re light skinned or can pass for white does not mean that you desire or want to or even think it’s fun to pass for white.”  (“Julie Dash – The Reelblack Interview”).

Daughters of the Dust

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One particular theme seen in Daughter of the Dust that were previously explored in Eve’s Bayou is perception and identity through the implication of slave master/slave dynamic.  Just as in Eve’s Bayou the beginning narrative by Eve provided historical implications of this same dynamic however, is brushed over to provide a universal theme that would cross over into all audiences.  Unlike in Daughter’s of the Dust, this historical implication is identified and is first seen when Eli Peazant comes to Nana Peazant for guidance as he implies that his wife had been violated and impregnated from a white man.  The dialogue between the two family members tries to bring solidarity between the dynamic of pain and seeking refuge as a family.  Elements of magical realism also lie within Nana as she reminds Eli to keep faith in their family and ancestors to help him keep in touch with his own spirit which is also seen in thematic cuts of the women in their family dancing together.  Another scene that represents magical realism is when Unborn Child calls to Nana’s prayer for help and guidance, as you see Unborn Child running on the beach and cutting to the entire Peazant family feeling her presence through the air as her unborn presence lives in both reality and in a spiritual world.

 

Works Cited:

Black Tree.TV. “Interview with BELLE director Amma Asante”. Youtube. Youtube, 4 May 2014. Web.

Felton, Wes. “Rewriting Hollywood History in Julie Dash’s Illusions.” Web log post. Senses of Cinema. Senses of Cinema, Feb. 2009. Web. 9 June 2016.

Reelblack. “Julie Dash – The Reelblack Interview.” Youtube. Youtube, 24 Feb 2014. Web.

Young Mothers

Janice Boonkrong

COMM 137

Spring 2016

          A Way of Life and Down in the Delta have quite a few comparisons between the two. In both films, the lead role is played by a young female who plays the role of a young mother. Both young mothers in love with their children, but still have many obstacles they are personally facing because they are young and are still learning about themselves. In A Way of Life, Leigh-Anne, the young mother, shows great love toward her baby girl, Rebecca. However, she still involves herself in heinous acts and selfish crimes, alongside her little brother. In Down in the Delta, Loretta, the young mother, attempts to get herself together by getting a job. She lover her children, Thomas and Tract, but she is unsuccessful as her drug addiction has taken over her life and her judgments. Both of these films also has an older figure that acts as there guidance and responsible conscious. In A Way of Life, Leigh-Anne has her grandmother, Annette, who is overbearing, but wants what is best and believes that her child will be in better hands if Rebecca were to live with her. In Down in the Delta, Loretta has her mother, Rosa-Lynn, and her cousin, Earl. Rosa-Lynn takes responsibility by sending her daughter and two children to live with Earl in the delta of Mississippi. Both of them help Loretta greatly as she slowly becomes a more responsible mother who stays away from drug abuse. Both films are see to be growing up in areas that are filled with crime, as well. A Way of Life in South Wales and Down in the Delta in Chicago.

One of the more obvious ways in which A Way of Life and Down in the Delta are different is that in A Way of Life, the cast is predominantly white which allows for whiteness to be a main voice. In Down in the Delta, the cast is predominantly black which allows for a black voice. Each film also tells a different story that comprises of different themes: A Way of Life is focused on racism, poverty, and identity, while Down in the Delta is focused on unconditional love, perseverance, and self-reliance. Although each of the leading females show great development as young mothers, Leigh-Anne seems to realize her newfound identity too late, while in Down in the Delta, Loretta is saved by her mother and Earl early enough to save herself and her children from a life of pain.

Being black women filmmakers, Amma Asante and Maya Angelou are able to shed light on real scenarios that females of all ages and cultures can relate themselves to. There are so many young mothers in this day and age and I can’t imagine how big of a struggle it may be because as a young mother is trying to get their lives together, they must also take care of the lives of their children. It must not be easy for either of these moms as they are both struggling through personal issues. They both love their children so much, but it is hard focusing your responsibility for another life while your life is also in need of attention and care. In Asante’s case, she challenges stereotypes by using a white cast and shows that people who may seem different can be going through incredibly relative situations. Both of these female protagonists were shown in different lights. While Angelou challenges how far love and faith can bring oneself, she shows Loretta in a rotten situation at the beginning and develops her character throughout the film using love and faith as the main growing component. Both filmmakers show growth in their leading female roles. A newfound identity is for the better sometimes, but timing is everything. In Leigh-Anne’s case, timing was not on her side, while for Loretta, timing saved her.


Works Cited

Griggs, Sutton, Hopkins Pauline, and Bruce John E. “Double-Consciousness,

Ethiopianism, and Africa.” Black on Black: Twentieth-Century African American Writing about

Africa. By John Clllen Gruesser. U of Kentucky, 2000. 20-49. Web.

Leydon, Joe. “Review: ‘Down in the Delta’.” Variety. N.p., 23 Sept. 1998. Web.

Rosen, Christopher. “Maya Angelou Directed ‘Down In The Delta’.”Huffington Post. N.p.,

28 May 2014. Web.

IDENTITY IN FILM

Kayla Tubera

Comm 137 Sp 2016

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Topics of identity and stereotyping in the film Coffee Coloured Children directed by Ngozi Onwurah.  Just as it is seen in the film, characteristics of double veil are existent in the use of this dating site.  Double consciousness can be seen amongst dating sites, for instance for people of Indian descent.  Some dating sites require to cover the degree of desirability based on a particular shade of a person’s skin tone.  Whether his or her skin tone is light or dark, lighter skin can be deemed to be more desirable and attractive for consumers who actually use the dating site.  Because of this “universal” preference, such dating sites allow for specific options of choosing his or her own specific tones of color for their potential dating partner to look over before making his or her final decision to match with that person.  The users themselves who would have to choose their identity based on a light or dark world and how they choose to fit into it.  This theme carries out in Coffee Coloured Children as Onwurah portrays rejection of her own skin tone through a series of cuts and narratives that showed her brother scrubbing his skin in the bathtub, applying an abundance of white powder on her face as a child to “become a princess”, and bleaching her skin as an adult.  Darker skin is dehumanized in both examples (the dating site and the film) however, unlike this dating site, the ending of the film accepts the truth and rawness of one’s skin color when throwing the bleaching products into a fire pit by both siblings.  

The films Coffee Coloured Children and The Body Beautiful directed by Ngozi Onwurah is parallel with Eve’s Bayou directed by Kasi Lemmons, by mixing reality and non-reality and also sharing points of view from one subject, such as Ngozi herself and Eve as their own narrators.  The Body Beautiful and Eve’s Bayou both incorporate fantastical African themes by portraying a mix of reality and non-reality. Eve’s Bayou illustrated magical realism which is particularly seen among characters Eve and her aunt Mozelle. As illustrated in the mirror murder scene of Mozelle’s past lover, Eve and Mozelle share the same vision with each other while looking into a large mirror and experience the same reactions and emotion as if that moment in time happened once again allowing the audience to question whether we are looking through Eve or Mozelle’s perception of this distant memory.  In Body Beautiful, reality and non-reality is illustrated in Ngozi’s mother’s sexual fantasy with a young black man.  Commentary from Martha Stoddard Holmes explains other bias opinions of nudity in the film, “The nudity in this film, especially in scenes involving the mother and daughter, disturbs some viewers” She also addresses how the illustrations of nudity form a message in the film, “An unexplored, but available message in the film is the relationship between different kinds of stigmatized identities (“race” and disability)” (Holmes).    

The storytelling and narrative represented realism of the time and place in which her mother situated herself but then steps into a love scene fantastical scene to resemble a mental image or daydream in her head shown by the naked love scene with candles, a satin covered bed, and their embracing.  Another reality of this film is the actualization of her mother’s self-consciousness of her absent breast as allowed for me as a viewer to feel her consciousness and self-perception of her silent struggle and “disability”.  Apart from the motifs of both films, as black women filmmakers both directors share the same ownership in motherhood as an identity as it also is reflected in their work.  Having children impacted their filmmaking.  

In contrast, Eve’s Bayou was not affected by cultural pressure rather it’s setting was based more on historical contexts that reflected slave master and slave dynamics which is also implied in the beginning narrative of the film saying how the 16 interracial children were born to show their “gratitude”.  Eve’s Bayou also served as a new portrayal for black Americans and crossed over all audiences with it’s universal appeal.  It did not simply portray just the black experience but shared universal themes relating to family crisis, evoking emotions, and was not tethered to or impacted by whiteness.  In opposition to Eve’s Bayou, Ngozi Onwurah’s films show a dynamic between black and white experience and has implications of the double veil as shown in Coffee Coloured Children.  There are exclusions of experience which is also narrated by her at one point in the film saying, “black experience not as black as mine”.  Onwurah’s narrative and overall feel of this film is completely affected by cultural pressures which is not seen in Eve’s Bayou.

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The initial discussion to draw from the film Belle directed by Amma Asante, is the ethnic descent of the main character Dido Belle as she is mixed-race.  When she is first taken away by her biological father from her initial home where she lived in poverty, he tells her, “I can take you to a better life, a life you were born to” which also resembles the veil as discussed in lecture.  For example, when Dido is brought to this new life at Kenwood House it occurs to the (at first) antagonistic characters Lord Mansifield and Lady Mansifield that their reputations are at stake for taking responsibility for a mixed-race child.  It is contemplated here how the color of her skin is to “fit in” with the overall setting of the rest of their family regardless if she shares the same blood as them.  As her father leaves her he poses as the one individual devoted to love her unconditionally and completely separate from others in the palace.  The veil is then reiterated in one particular scene when young Dido is looking at a painting on a wall and notices how people of color were painted in the background of white “superior” soldiers.  For instance, the notion of the camera sets the gaze of Dido on the face of the white soldier down then panning down to the child of color who is looking up at him.  The camera then cuts back to Dido as it allows the audience to build an interpretation of Dido’s own interpretations of the painting.  Possible questions that arise from this scene that I came up with are: Does she identify herself as the person of color in that painting? Is she questioning that person’s identity and relating to herself? Is she even aware of the lack of clarity white people have to see blacks as equal?  Who does truly associate her identity with at a young age?  These questions are also reflective in the reactions of Ngozi Onwurah’s film Coffee Coloured Children, however at a young age Onwruah was aware of the dynamics of race through cultural pressure and reacted to it.  As opposed to the childhood of Dido, she accepts the “better” white lifestyle without resistance that her father brought her to regardless of the darker tone of her skin.

Works Cited

Felton, Wes. “Rewriting Hollywood History in Julie Dash’s Illusions.” Web log post. Senses of Cinema. Senses of Cinema, Feb. 2009. Web. 9 June 2016.

Stranger Inside

Maggie Papikyan

Comm 137 Spring 2016

Stranger Inside, directed by Cheryl Dunye, tells the story of a young African American women named Treasure Lee who intentionally gets herself transferred from a juvenile prison to an adult prison in search of her mother, Brownie. The subcultures depicted in the film Stranger Inside challenge constructs of race, sex, love, violence, and power by exploring the relationships between lesbian women of different races and by giving power to different gangs within the prison.

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In regards to race, sex, and love specifically, the film shows multiple lesbian relationships; this includes links between Treasure Lee and Sugar, Kit and Sugar, and Brownie and her wife. Not only does this challenge the construct of a heterosexual relationship, but it involves mixed races as well. Sexuality is treated simply in this film without too much exploitation. The women use sexuality as an escape, as a way to bond, even as a weapon of control. In multiple scenes, Treasure and Sugar are engaging in sexual activities in the back of a church. There is also a scene where Kit and Treasure fight over Sugar, just a two men who’d fight over a woman. The way that these relationships are portrayed breaks the constructed barrier of sex and love in todays society. Most films try and stay away from anything too controversial so they can reach a broader audience and bring in more money, but Cheryl Dunye accomplished the inclusion of a controversial topic by adding hints of normalcy and making it feel relatable. The unconventional love between a mother and daughter is also explored. Normally, when an abandoned child finds their biological mother, it tends to be a happy ending… but this isn’t the case with Treasure and Brownie. Just when you think Treasure’s situation reflects a typical mother-daughter love, we find out that Brownie actually killed her birth mother many years ago. It’s a heart-wrenching moment in the film that makes you appreciate everything that you’ve been blessed with. Treasure endures a lot of pain knowing that the strides and sacrifices she had made to be reunited with her mother would never account for anything. She had to accept the unfortunate reality and move forward with strength.

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When it comes to violence and power, the ball never stops rolling. Brownie, a black female inmate, and Nelson, a white officer, seem to carry the power throughout the film. They organize the delivery of contraband into the prison and they oversee a gang of inmates. With that, they are responsible for violent criminal activity within the prison and get many inmates killed because of it. However, towards the end of the film, the neo-Nazi gang tries to take the power back using violence. They challenge Brownie and her clan to a basketball game, which tragically ends with Kit stabbing Brownie in the neck. The power play here is interesting because you would expect Brownie to have the upper hand in any prison activity, but Kit, a young white girl, comes on top and takes down the enemy.

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I also found it interesting that the warden of the prison was a white female because it is always assumed that someone who holds the power within a prison would be a male. The topic of racism is certainly prevalent in this film, but Cheryl Dunye played with the idea of power by putting it in the hands of unexpected people. The depiction of subcultures in the film come as a positive surprise that challenges stereotypical constructs of race, sex, love, violence, and power. In its entirety, Stranger Inside is a dynamic story with a black female lead, a white female warden, guards of different race and gender, and multiple gangs of black, white, and brown women who constantly try to dominate the prison throne. It breaks barriers in a subtle and relatable way, and it gives us an honest look into inmate subculture within prisons.

 

Work Cited

http://variety.com/2001/film/reviews/stranger-inside-1200466615/

http://uk.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/50421_ch_10.pdf

http://law.jrank.org/pages/1796/Prisons-Prisoners-Inmate-subcultures-informal-organizations.html

What defines a black woman filmmaker’s success?

Janice Boonkrong

COMM 137

Spring 2016

 

As discussed in lecture, what defines a black woman filmmaker’s success is how universal the film is. In Gina Prince-Bythewood’s film, Love and Basketball, there are a variety of themes explored: love, friendship, hard work, following your dreams, divorce, family hardships, personal hardships, gender bias, etc. The central story, however, revolved around the theme of “finding oneself”. This film takes us on a journey of Monica and Quincy as individuals and as a couple from start to finish. They start off as young children, playing basketball with no worries in the world, head towards young adulthood with troubles all around in high school and college, and end up happily together with a baby girl and Monica playing for the Women’s National Basketball Association. There story is something universal. It is something that all of the viewers of all ages, race, and gender can appreciate and relate to in one way or another, which is what made this film a success. It is a story that can be personalized to each person creating a deep connection because they can recount these feelings and recall a time in their lives that they could relate to what is happening in the film.

I enjoyed this film a lot because like so many others, I was able to connect on multiple points of the film. My parents went through a divorce and like Q, I was able to recall all of the screaming and fighting that would go on between my mother and father. It was a nightmare so I would sneak out of my window and I would go next door to my cousin’s house late at night. I, too, have personal goals and dreams that I aspire to one day achieve, but I’ve also been knocked down by many obstacles in my path. I know the road ahead is rough—it has been rough. And I know it is going to take a lot of perseverance to continue. I know there will be times when I want to give up completely, but I know that, like Monica, I will keep on going. I know how much Monica hurt when she didn’t really fit into the crowd of girls at school because she wore different clothes, looked different, and had different interests and I know how much she was hurting when, all of a sudden, Quincy decided to breakup with her. Or when Monica had gender biases targeted at her. There were doubts of her success in the basketball world from friends, family, and even Quincy at the beginning because she is a girl. That’s why I loved this film so much. There were so many times where I was touched by what happened and how they handled it because I went through much of the same situations that they had gone through. In an article with the Huffington Post, Bythewood explains how “there is a comfort in a period piece because you recognize those characters, because you’ve grown up reading about them in history books” and how “dramatic stories about contemporary black culture and women of color are a harder sell [because] they feel that the audience is limited [but] the truth is, we need more films on contemporary life to open it up and allow people to see different sides of black life… we’re actually not a monolith”. Bythewood gives her audience that different side and does it effortlessly by having the male voice, female voice, black voice, young voice, teen voice, adult voice, etc. She was really able to give so much in this film by using so many different perspectives and adding it into the film, another reason why Bythewood was such a success. My personal definition of success is if an artist is able to even put their work out into the work and to be able to have pride and joy for their work. If they are able to stay true to themselves as much as possible and if they are able to deviate from anyone else’s judgment of their work, that is success to me. Being able to be happy with oneself is to be successful. I feel that all of the films we have gotten to see this quarter were successful films created by incredibly talented black women filmmakers. They were all successful in there own way and I feel like all the ones that we have seen deviated from outside judgment. They stayed true to themselves and truly showed different sides to the black community. I would highly recommend people to watch Love and Basketball—it is a definite must see for everyone.


Works Cited

Brodnax, Shana. “One Woman’s Hoops & Dreams: Movie Review.” Black Camera 15.2

(2000): 6. Web.

McCalmont, Lucy. “Double Or Nothing: An Oral History Of ‘Love & Basketball’.” The

Huffington Post, 16 June 2015. Web.

Strachan, Maxwell. “What It’s Like To Be A Black Woman In White Hollywood.” What It’s

Like To Be A Black Woman In White Hollywood. Huffington Post, 26 Feb. 2016. Web.

 

 

Navigating the Ism’s Women Face in the Media Industry

Joselynn Ordaz

Comm 137 Sp 16


Image result for women in filmGriffith’s personal experiences on set discussed in “Below the Line…?” revealed much about the types of ism’s women have to deal with in the industry.
As someone who pays a lot of attention to the entertainment industry, I was already aware of the sexism and difficulties women face as filmmakers whether that be as “above the line” or “below the line” workers; however, after the reading I was made aware of the extent that it goes to. The article is a really interesting read and starts off with Griffith’s experience with the filming of a Rolling Stones performance. The music video part, however, stands out the most in that it gives insight into how women filmmakers deal with having to help film and perpetuate very strong sexist and objectifying ideals in videos.

Women, black women especially, face lots of  isms in the industry that results in them having to work twice as hard as the men. As Isabel Coixet puts it, “the industry is like a rocky mountain. Boys climb the mountain equipped with boots and picks and axes, and girls must climb the mountain naked except for a pair of stilettos and a suitcase filled with stones.” One of the isms depicted in the reading was the high influence having connections in the industry or the “who you know” phenomenon.  Getting a job in the industry is difficult for women and oftentimes doesn’t happen unless someone higher up and/or male backs you as was the case of Griffith with the Rolling Stone coverage. This whole “it’s all about connections and who you know” idea factors very strongly in the industry and is why there is so much underrepresentation. The people in the high, respectable positions that are perpetuating it may not be aware that they often end up excluding new and different talent because they tend to seek out people who are similar to them. This explains why the film industry is largely influenced by the tastes, perspectives, cultures,  backgrounds, and experiences of the white, heterosexual male.

Women represent such a small percentage of directors, producers, and executives, which leads to another ism — low expectations from people in the industry (largely the white males). Industry veterans or even just really entitled men don’t expect or assume women to hold a position of power, more specifically they don’t expect women to hold any sort of power over them and having the ability to hire/fire them. This leads to them defaulting to a disrespectful attitude towards women in the industry often disregarding their ideas, assuming they are girlfriends of men in the industry, etc. These low expectations also lend to another ism — being babied. Because they are women they are taken less seriously than the men and are oftentimes not trusted to do things without a man present.

Works Cited:

“Highlights from the USC Report on Entertainment Diversity.” The Orange County Register. N.p., 22 Feb. 2016. Web. <http://www.ocregister.com/articles/percent-705170-scored-series.html&gt;.

Louie, Mynette. “A Female Producer Explains 4 Ways Women Get a Raw Deal in Hollywood.” Vulture. N.p., 07 July 2015. Web. <http://www.vulture.com/2015/07/how-hollywood-discriminates-female-filmmakers.html&gt;.

Malinsky, Gili. “Hollywood’s Women Problem: Why Female Filmmakers Have Hit the Glass Ceiling.” The Daily Beast. N.p., 22 Mar. 2015. Web. <http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/22/hollywood-s-women-problem-why-female-filmmakers-have-hit-the-glass-ceiling.html&gt;.