Jaap’s Recitation: 3/21 (12:30-1:45)

In Jaaps 12:30-1:45 recitation we began by briefly touching on the feature film of last night’s lecture Do The Right Thing. The class was kicked off with a presentation of Guerro’s readings focusing on the representation of black cinema in the 1980’s. The presentation sparked a deeper discussion of the controversies and racial tensions displayed in Do The Right Thing. We then viewed the final fight scene of the first Rocky movie featuring the hulky black champion Apollo Creed taking on the tiny resilient Italian Rocky Balboa. Jaap asked us what we noticed in  Rocky and how may we relate it to Do The Right Thing in the context and structure of how these tensions are being presented. It was suggested that although class struggle may be a bigger issue in Rocky then race relations, we can see the role reversal of the typically glorified white man turned into the underdog against the reigning black athletic champion. The racial themes in Rocky were not directly addressed as vividly as they were in Do the Right Thing, which is a more blunt attempt at presenting racial controversies.

We began talking about movies that are more subtle in addressing racial stereotypes, but that still manage to do so all the same. We discussed Batman and talked about how the Joker’s purple suit made him out to look like a pimp while the music in the black ground playing while the thugs destroy the paintings is similar to Hip-Hop. We then listened to the next presentation which covered a lot more on racial symbolism in movies where certain subtle insinuations are often made.

After the second presentation Jaap played for us a stand up clip of comedian Eddie Murphy performing a racial altercation between a black man and an Italian man of what might happen after an Italian man views Rocky. The clip only served to further enhance our understanding of presenting an issue without directly addressing it. We all could insinuate what Murphy was implying, but his motives are never specifically addressed.

Jaap then showed us a clip from Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. We watched the very beginning that shows us Malcolm going to the barber to get his hair slicked back in order to “look white”, followed in succession by another scene that featured the Ku Klux Klan throwing bricks into his house. The clip gave us a breath of new perspective from a film makers standpoint, showing us a movie where Spike Lee non-objectively gives us the story of Malcolm X, and the characters, and locations     involved without interjecting a “white” perspective.  We finished the class with a final and in depth presentation that basically covered the progression of black cinema.


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