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November 1994, Week 2


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Gloria Monti <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 11 Nov 1994 14:13:31 CST
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> You should listen to PUBLIC ENEMY, NWA, ICE-T, and a million other
> rap artists. See the films like MENACE II SOCIETY or BOYZ IN THE HOOD.
> You hate the "N" word in PF, you'll get your film in those and many
> others.
        I cannot believe that concepts like this one still need
to be explained in 1994: the whole usage of the *n* word has everything
to do with who uses it--remember history?  It makes a difference whether
it is an African-American appropriating the word for him/herself or a
white man perpetuating a racist tradition of using it against
African-Americans.  Enough of this if-you-see-Spike-Lee's-films-then-what's
wrong-with-Tarantino's-films.  Tarantino is a white man, that's what's
wrong with his usage of the *n* word.
        Personally, I disagree with anybody's usage of the *n* word, but that's
another story.
> I didn't see the racism in the movie.
        Obviously, you have never had to stop and think about the effects
that racism could have on *you.*  Try the other side for a change.
 I saw appropriation. Talk like the
> cool blacks (sorry african-americans) do and you can be cool, too. This
> doesn notmake it right, but I think fills out the argument a little
> more.
        How can a white man appropriate something that was originally
his?  It is the African-American who has appropriated something that was
used against him.  The "cool blacks sorry african-americans" (sic) did
not invent the *n* word to be cool.
> There has been a lot of talk about the use of the word "nigger". If those
> associated with it use it, what power can it have?
        I suggest some readings here: Trey Ellis's essay on naming (in
the Village Voice), Michael Cooke's work.  Also "What's in a Name?  Film
Culture and the Self/Other Question" by Martin Blythe.  I will provide more
accurate references if you are interested.
> QT is a smart guy. He knows exactly what he's doing.
        I do not believe this is an effective way to repair the wrongs of
history.  Let me quote from Julie Dash's *Illusions* (1982):
        The real history, the history that most people will remember and
believe in, is what they see on the silver screen.  It's like people will
always remember and believe that Cleopatra looked like Claudette Colbert.
        Let me conclude by citing another text that you might want to
look at: *Ethnic Notions* by Marlon Riggs (1990).  A documentary on the
misrepresentation on African-American on the (silver) screen.  There is a
price to be paid for the kind of smartness you laud Tarantino for.  The
point is, some people pay higher prices than others.  And that has got to
        Gloria Monti