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June 1995, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Gloria Monti <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 3 Jun 1995 14:22:36 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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On Sat, 3 Jun 1995, Stephen Brophy wrote:
>   The biggest problem, perhaps the only big problem, with "white"
> actors portraying Asian, Latin and other characters, is that it cuts
> down on the already miniscule amound of work available to Asian, Latin
> and other actors.  "Authenticity" isn't the issue.
>                                                 Stephen Brophy
        Yes, absolutely.  And if I may add ideology and history to the economic
issue--the minuscule amount of work available to minority performers too
often entailed playing economically subordinate roles.  So, the economic
question is both diegetic and extradiegetic.
        Then there is the question of misrepresentation.  Minority
characters have been consistently misrepresented by Hollywood cinema,
which utilized European-Americans to impersonate (just to cite one example)
African-Americans as seen by the distorted ideological eye of white
people.  *Birth of a Nation* has already been cited in this discussion.
I recommend Marlon Riggs's *Ethnic Notions,* which I used in my Intro. to
Film class for the week on the documentary.  I believe it works really
well for illustrating the genre of documentary as well as opening many
students' eyes on issues of representations of race in mainstream cinema
that have been rendered completely invisible in their viewing
experiences.  In other words, what my mother would call "just a
cartoon."  Sorry Mom. :-)
        As Birgit Kellner pointed out:
There might be a need of a well-founded historical perspective on this
(and I am definitely not in the position to provide one)
        Robert Stam & Ella Shohat's *Unthinking Eurocentrism* provides that.  I
know I recommended the book before, but it is a true gem.  I promise I do not
get a commission on the sales. :-)
        Gloria Monti
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