From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism: Hollywood V. Black America?

Trevor B. McCrisken and Andrew Pepper

in American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780748614899
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670666 | DOI:
From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism: Hollywood V. Black America?

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If contemporary filmmakers have felt compelled to do away with the explicit racism of pre-civil rights Hollywood movie-making and make African Americans the subjects rather than the objects of their gaze, then the vexed question of how successfully their ambitions have been realised needs to be addressed. There has been a small but growing number of films made by African-American directors (that is, Spike Lee, Mario Van Peebles) whose focus is predominantly African-American subjects and which tend to privilege conflict and confrontation rather than reconciliation and assimilation. Examples of this type of film are Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Panther and Dead Presidents. Then there is Michael Mann's Ali (2001), a film about boxer Muhammad Ali. At stake is not only the question of how these black ‘independent’ films represent the struggle for racial equality and the emergence of black nationalism as a social, cultural and political force from the early 1960s onwards. Rather, it is also the viability of the distinction between Hollywood and this so-called black independent cinema in the first place.

Keywords: black nationalism; African Americans; Hollywood; Spike Lee; Mario Van Peebles; Ali; Malcolm X; Panther; black independent cinema; racism

Chapter.  11599 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies

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