The myth of the Black male beast in postclassical American cinema: ‘Forging’ stereotypes and discovering Black masculinities

Patrick, Martin Luther (2009). The myth of the Black male beast in postclassical American cinema: ‘Forging’ stereotypes and discovering Black masculinities. University of Birmingham. M.Phil.


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The thesis examines how postclassical American film invents Black male characters. It uses Levi-Strauss and Barthes’ methods of analyzing myth and critiques hegemonic authorship through Jung’s work on archetypes in the collective unconscious and the ‘shadow’. Using Othello as a prototype character, I examine how he became an archetype that manifests two perceptions of Black characters in the collective unconscious. I define one as Othellophobia; a threat to the White supremacist Ego that imagines re/enslavement by Islamic/Blacks and enslavement by African/Americans. I define the other as Othellophilia; whereby the Black character is inscribed through a humanist perception of Othello and the racial equality of Black men whose racial heritage and religion is respected. Four films: Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, 1971, A Soldier’s Story, 1984, Brother to Brother, 2004 and Collateral 2004, are studied and critiqued to contests the myth of the ‘Savage Mind’, ‘Savage Body’, the ‘Object of Desire’, and the ‘Clash of Wills’. Through the additional application of Black sexual politics and Black cultural theory I consider how Black progressive masculinities, Black gay identity politics and Afrocentric ‘ways of being ’ are currently determining multifarious Black masculinities and reclaiming the Black mind and body in postclassical film.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Phil.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Phil.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures


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