Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture

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Rutgers University Press, 2004 - Performing Arts - 324 pages
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Why do so many African American film characters seem to have magical powers? And why do they use them only to help white people? When the actors are white, why is the sound track so commonly performed by African Americans? And why do so many white actors imitate black people when they wish to express strong emotion?

As Krin Gabbard brilliantly reveals in Black Magic, we duly recognize the cultural heritage of African Americans in literature, music, and art, but there is a disturbing pattern in the roles that blacks are asked to play-particularly in the movies. Many recent films, including The Matrix, Fargo, The Green Mile, Ghost, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Pleasantville, The Bridges of Madison County, and Crumb, reveal a fascination with black music and sexuality even as they preserve the old racial hierarchies. Quite often the dependence on African American culture remains hidden-although it is almost perversely pervasive. In the final chapters of Black Magic, Gabbard looks at films by Robert Altman and Spike Lee that attempt to reverse many of these widespread trends.

  

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Contents

Marlon Brandos Jazz Acting and the Obsolescence of Blackface
19
Borrowing Black Masculinity Dirty Harry Finds His Gentle Side
51
Passing Tones The Talented Mr Ripley and Pleasantville
73
SERVING THE WHITE AUDIENCE
105
The Racial Displacements of Ransom and Fargo
107
Black Angels in America Millennial Solutions to the Race Problem
143
UNREPRESENTABLE SUBJECTS
177
Evidence Thelonious Monks Challenge to Jazz History
179
BLACK MAGIC INVERTED
233
Robert Altmans Jazz History Lesson
235
Spike Lee Meets Aaron Copland
251
CONCLUSION
275
NOTES
279
WORKS CITED
293
INDEX
305
Copyright

Revenge of the Nerds Representing the White Male Collector of Black Music
199

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Page 1 - It is a difficult thing for a white man to learn what a coloured man really thinks; because, generally, with the latter an additional and different light must be brought to bear on what he thinks ; and his thoughts are often influenced by considerations so delicate and subtle that it would be impossible for him to confess or explain them to one of the opposite...

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About the author (2004)

Krin Gabbard is professor of comparative literature and English at Stony Brook University and an amateur trumpet player. He is the author of three previous books.

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