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June 2000, Week 4


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Kenneth Slack <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 22 Jun 2000 10:52:10 -0700
text/plain (74 lines)

This is not from any documented source, but from
cultural experience -- if someone knows of a source
other than the one I'm giving you, I'd appreciate
being enlightened --

As far as art is concerned (particularly music), the
term "crossover" seems to have been originally applied
in the mainstream, to art created/performed by African
American artists that was popular and appealing enough
to white audiences to make it commercially viable for
a producer to take the financial chance of backing the
African American artist.

The reason I emphasize that the first use seems to be
African American art "crossing over" to appeal to a
white audience is because the term "crossover" has
particular significance in regard to the African
American/white relationship in this country. The thing
that is being "crossed over" is the color line. A
light skinned African American was considered to be
"passing" or "crossing over" if s/he held himself or
herself out as "white" to those who could not tell by
sight, that the person would be considered African
American by those who knew him/her (as the daughter
does in Imitation of Life).

Just as people were expected to stay on their side of
the line, so too were the elements of the cultures.
Blacks were to like "black music;" whites were to like
"white music." So when art appealed to those on the
other side of the color line, the art (not necessarily
the artist) was a "cross over" hit.

Now of course the term refers to much more than blacks
crossing over the color line or "passing" for white.
And although I do know that the term "crossover" was
used in the way that I have described it herein, I do
not have documentation that the popular use of the
word today is directly connected to the former use
laid out here.

It seems to be a logical progression though, don't you

--- Paul Fryer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Can anyone identify the source of the term
> "crossover" when applied to the
> activities of an artist moving from one genre to
> another ?  Or, early uses
> of the term ?
> Thanks.
> Paul Fryer
> Senior Lecturer in Theatre
> Rose Bruford College, Sidcup (U.K.)
> ----
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