MEDIA IMAGES: We Have A PROBLEM

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Back where I was in 2008. I flip through the channels and 5 channels in, I see Django Unchained, 30 seconds of watching and he says “alright niggers back at it.” In 2003 when I lived in Namibia, I was annoyed, offended and irritated by the use of nigger. In 2008, I lived in South African and I remained annoyed, but appreciated explanations from the local context, emulation. South Africans were emulating American hip-hop musicians. Django moves beyond music. I have a problem, we have a problem. But at the movies, there is no 12 Years a Slave, no Best Man Holidayand from what I understand, Roots had been banned in South Africa for a very long time. I’m not positive it has made it to primetime more than once here. We have a problem. Mandela is coming out at the end of the month-a contrasting image and story from DjangoMandelatells a story of resistance, community and triumph [African], there’s no need to analyze subtexts. Django tells a violent story of careless anger and vengeance with minimal regard for community [Black/African-American], reading the subtext you can pull a story about love and family, but is the average audience watching for the subtext? Out of the US context is there awareness among the African diaspora about the brutal impact of slavery? About the resistance and ingenuity of Africans brought to America?  I doubt it; there are American generations who are clueless. So often when African immigrants meet Black [African] Americans the mental backdrop is a distorted image of the US experience, legacy and connections to Africa. This is only my second night here. I am fearful tomorrow night I’ll wake up and five channels in I’ll see Precious. We have a PROBLEM.

1 Comment:

  • March 2, 2015

    Oh yeah! I don’t think that most people look at anything and understand subtext. When I lived in Dresden, Germany, I had an acquaintance who asked me, re: The Cosby Show, “Do all black Americans have such large families?” This was in 1999/2000, so I hope that most people know better now. And don’t get me started on hip-hop! As a classical musician, as someone who loves the proper use of language, as someone conscious of the history of African and African-descended people, I cannot wrap my mind around hip-hop.

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