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Red, White and Black Cinema and the Structure of U. S. Antagonisms

ISBN-10: 0822347016
ISBN-13: 9780822347019
Edition: 2010
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Description: Red, White & Blackis a provocative critique of socially engaged films and the related critical discourse. Offering an unflinching account of race and representation, Frank B. Wilderson III asks whether such films accurately represent the structure  More...

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Book details

Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication date: 3/19/2010
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 408
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.452

Red, White & Blackis a provocative critique of socially engaged films and the related critical discourse. Offering an unflinching account of race and representation, Frank B. Wilderson III asks whether such films accurately represent the structure of U.S. racial antagonisms. That structure, he argues, is based on three essential subject positions: that of the White (the "settler," "master," and "human"), the Red (the "savage" and "half-human"), and the Black (the "slave" and "non-human"). Wilderson contends that for Blacks, slavery is ontological, an inseparable element of their being. From the beginning of the European slave trade until now, Blacks have had symbolic value as fungible flesh, as the non-human (or anti-human) against which Whites have defined themselves as human. Just as slavery is the existential basis of the Black subject position, genocide is essential to the ontology of the Indian. Both positions are foundational to the existence of (White) humanity. Wilderson provides detailed readings of two films by Black directors, Antwone Fisher (Denzel Washington) and Bush Mama (Haile Gerima); one by an Indian director,Skins(Chris Eyre); and one by a White director,Monster's Ball(Marc Foster). These films present Red and Black people beleaguered by problems such as homelessness and the repercussions of incarceration. They portray social turmoil in terms of conflict, as problems that can be solved (at least theoretically, if not in the given narratives). Wilderson maintains that at the narrative level, they fail to recognize that the turmoil is based not in conflict, but in fundamentally irreconcilable racial antagonisms. Yet, as he explains, those antagonisms are unintentionally disclosed in the films' non-narrative strategies, in decisions regarding matters such as lighting, camera angles, and sound.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1942, Ariel Dorfman is a Chilean citizen. A supporter of Salvador Allende, he was forced into exile and has lived in the United States for many years. Since writing his legendary essay, "How to Read Donald Duck", Dorfman has built up an impressive body of work that has translated into more than thirty languages. Besides poetry, essays and novels--"Hard Rain" (Readers International, 1990), winner of the Sudamericana Award; "Widows" (Pluto Press, 1983); "The Last Song of Manuel Sendero" (Viking, 1987); "Mascara" (Viking, 1988); "Konfidenz" (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1995)--he has written plays, including "Death and the Maiden", and produced in ninety countries. He has won various international awards, including two Kennedy Center Theatre Awards. With his son, Rodrigo, he received an award for best television drama in Britain for "Prisoners of Time" in 1996. A professor at Duke University, Dorfman lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Unspeakable Ethics
The Structure of Antagonisms
The Ruse of Analogy
The Narcissistic Slave
Antwone Fisher and Bush Mama
Fishing for Antwone
Cinematic Unrest: Bush Mama and the Black Liberation Army
Skins
Absurd Mobility
The Ethics of Sovereignty
Excess Lack
The Pleasures of Parity
"Savage" Negrophobia
Monster's Ball
A Crisis in the Commons
Half-White Healing
Make Me Feel Good
Epilogue
Notes
References
Index

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