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September 1996, Week 3


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David Desser <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 13 Sep 1996 11:44:48 -0600
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 Patrick McGann intelligently wrote:
"Does racism in a film always have to be overt, David?  Would you grant
that there's such a thing as covert racism that often goes unrecognized
and unacknowledged, and is just as devastating and problematical?  I
don't think of myself as a racist--in fact consciously work not to
be--and yet as a white male I find I still on occasion have racist
stereotypes and assumptions pop into my head unwarranted.  From a semitotic
perspective, culture "naturalizes" racism in subtle and unconscious ways
that become easy to take for granted--ways that we are exposed to early
on in our lives.  This may or may not be an issue in _The Lion King_, but
why automatically discount the possibility?"
Did I AUTOMATICALLY discount racism?  Did I, in fact, not point out an
example of racism, consciously or unconsciouly intended by Disney (and how
could it NOT have been conscious)?  No, for me, my response was to an issue
was posed in a SPECIFIC way, that the actors behind the screen were linked
to racist characterizations of the ANIMALS on view.
But, there is a larger agenda here:  What I objected to, and still do, is
the easy way in which academic liberals want to attack perceived racism in
Hollywood movies. Nothing is easier than doing that, and then we can all
sit back and pat ourselves on the back for being good liberals, not racist,
no, not us--we see through those devious Hollywood movies, products of a
white, male, ruling class, a cabal of secretive capitalists.  Hollywood
can't or won't fight back.  Why should they bother?  Indeed the political
inefficacy of the academic left should give the ruling class more than a
good chuckle or two if they even bothered to consider us at all.  No, my
point is the posturing that goes on here on the list.  It's safe to talk
about racism in _The Lion King_, but have you accomplished anything or
merely made yourself feel good and let the rest of us know that you are a
good, non-racist, political leftist, fighting the good fight against
Hollywood's sinister influence?   Who are we trying to convince when we
post such messages?
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