As Christian, Amy, and Declan indicated The Great White Hope is based on the life of Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight champion in the US. The PBS documentary Unforgivable Blackness is widely available and worth screening not only for its depiction of Johnson, but its representation of the era. See, for example:
Bertolt Brecht, “Hollywood Elegies”
The village of Hollywood was planned according to the notion
People in these parts have of heaven. In these parts
They have come to the conclusion that God
Requiring a heaven and a hell, didn’t need to
Plan two establishments but
Just the one: heaven. It
Serves the unprosperous, unsuccessful
Some things we failed to mention. The montage sequence from Bamboozled not only gathers blackface tropes from US pop culture. Note also the amazing score by Terence Blanchard laid over that clip. I would argue that the music functions as a melancholy yet dignified solvent, cutting through the visual sludge of minstrelsy with the sound of one of Black America’s most signal cultural achievements: Jazz.
The invocation of the minstrel figure continues to exert fascination and provoke explosive responses, from Wesley Brown’s novel Darktown Strutters (the title of a film and a song as well) to Little Brother’s 2005 album The Minstrel Show to American Apparel’s ill-advised ad “Sweeter Than Candy, Better Than Cake” (see below).
There are also abundant scholarly studies of blackface performance. Off the top of my head: WT Lhamon’s Raising Cain, Louis Chude-Sokei’s The Last Darky, Robert Toll’s Blacking Up, and Donald Bogle’s Toms, Coons, Mulattos, Mammies and Bucks, all of which I recommend.
Imperialism is hegemonic in the sense that the citizens of Empire are often shocked or angered by the assertion that they do, in fact, live in one– usually before they bother to define that term.
In honor of Fleet Week– which is clearly a symbol of American Empire– here are two speeches that have been supplemented with images.
First, a by-now viral video of Ellen.
I’d never heard of this next one until yesterday. I don’t know who originally made it.
Consider our discussions about hegemony and interpretation. What codes and values are invoked by these clips? How does form shape or undermine content? Do you live in an Empire? What evidence and arguments support your claim?