Birth of a Nation was a film that broke several artistic boundaries in the film industry yet was seen as the most racist film of any generation. This has caused it to be a film under heavy debate since its release in 1915. One can never look past the racist depictions that this film portrays in it. However, to truly understand the film and explore its importance in the study of minorities in film, one must look at this film from all perspectives.
The history of African Americans in early Hollywood films originated with blacks representing preconceived stereotypes. D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, Birth of a Nation, stirred many controversial issues within the black community. The fact that Griffith used white actors in blackface to portray black people showed how little he knew about African Americans. Bosley Crowther’s article “The Birth of Birth of a Nation” emphasizes that the film was a “highly pro-South drama of the American Civil War and the Period of Reconstruction, and it glorified the role of the Ku Klux Klan” (76). While viewing this film, one would assert that the Ku Klux Klan members are heroic forces that rescue white women from sexually abusive black men. Griffith introduced “mulatto, faithful mammy, Uncle Tom, and brutal buck” character; some were disguised as villains and obnoxious individuals. Donald Bogle’s “Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, & Bucks” describes the brutal black buck as “big, bad niggers, sexed and savage, violent and frenzied as they lust for white flesh” (13-14). Some of the film’s most objectionable scenes depict black men trying to rape white women and Negros destroying the south however, the Ku Klux Klan is riding to the rescue. Bogle also recorded some scenes in the film that presented blacks as a joke. For instance, Bogle reaffirms that “freed Negro legislators are depicted as lustful, arrogant, and idiotic: one bites on a chicken leg, another sneaks a drink from a liquor bottle, and another removes his shows during legislative meetings” (12).
The depiction of minorities, specifically women and Native Americans, in Western film has changed drastically from the early 1930's to the late 1980's. These changes represent the changing views of American society in general throughout the 20th century. In the early part of the century, women and Native Americans were depicted as a burden. Women were viewed as a form of property, helpless and needing support. These minorities were obstacles in the quest for manifest destiny by the United States. Western films during the early 20th century represent the ignorance of American culture towards minorities. As time progressed, society began to develop compassion for Native Americans and men began to see women as equals. The movie industry perpetuated the views of society throughout the last century. When Native Americans were seen as an "obstacle" in westward expansion, film directors supported these views on screen. As society began to question the treatment of Native Americans and women, the film scripts responded to these changes. By looking at western films over the last 60 years, the correlation between societal attitudes and film plots has changed the views of Native Americans and women. The two have worked together to bring the portrayal of Native Americans from savage beasts to victims, and women from property to equals.
...thirsty savages. These men are fulfilling the white man’s vision of the savage Indian by abusing women. In order to stop the abuse, Garcia believes these popular culture stereotypes must be confronted and changed. If media, literary and artistic images are not changed to accurately reflect the lives of Native Americans, the violence will continue.
In chapter six of her book Making the White Man 's Indian: Native Americans and Hollywood Movies, Ange Aliess explores the topic of how Western have begun to change recently. The changes that she references in the film Dances With Wolves are also present in the film Winter in the Blood as well as in the 1491s shorts, even though the 1491s are a comedy group and not a Western genre. Aleiss describes the ways in which Native Americans reacted to Native portrayals in the film Dances With Wolves, and they tended to see the film’s better sides in contrast with critics. In Winter in the Blood, there are many stereotypes that are explored in ways that make the characters seem more real and less stereotypical as the backstories are revealed, despite
Visual sovereignty and survivance in Atanarjuat and Smoke Signals are used to challenge the stereotype of “the Imaginary Indian”, yet redfacing is still a common mechanism used in Native American films that catalyzes this trope. Redfacing refers to the beginning of racist Native American stereotypes and drawings. In the case of the film industry, it also describes the bias the white producers, directors, and actors have against hiring real Native Americans to play Native American roles. Because of redfacing, there was an inaccurate display on film of how Native Americans looked in the past, and throughout the years the stereotype has gotten even more demeaning. Redfacing is disrespectful to Native American cultures as they are being misrepresented and Americans are given a false notion about the true sacredness and value behind the Native Americans’ lives. Thankfully, the method of redfacing had not been used in both Atanarjuat and Smoke Signals. Atanarjuat challenges these stereotypes by having an all Inuit cast and filmmaker and the writing, directing, and acting entirely in Inuktitut. Since historical accuracy
...he environment in which they are set, while still representing the on-going struggle for physical and idealogical control. Both deal with the opposing parties presented in the films, the Na’vi and indians, as they pose as threats to the desired balance in social order. Eventually, these threats are resolved and dealt with in different ways, but nevertheless achieve the goal of restoring balance and tranquility once again to the society. Films like The Searchers and Avatar, continue to address cultural issues and the results of disparity between groups. However, by continually demonstrating that through embracing certain perspectives and principles these differences can be resolved into positive outcomes, these films project the audience’s and filmmakers’ actual desire to conform any outside threats that could endanger the established conventions of everyday life.
The novel Lame Deer, Seeker of visions is a biography of a Lakota Medicine Man who lived in the 1900’s. this book is his personal views of the situation that Lame Deer’s people have been left in after everything that had happened as the “white man” immigrated to what they believed to be unknown land and theirs for the taking. through the story he speaks of the history of the desecration done to the Native Americans by the European invaders. as well as explaining to Richard Erdoes, through hours of interviews, the way of the Lakota People and their Rituals and customs. this depiction shows the vast spirituality of the Lakota as well as what they hold highly in their religion. It is explained how the “white Man” took over their sacred land and destro...
The movie starts by showing the Indians as “bad” when Johnson finds a note of another mountain man who has “savagely” been killed by the Indians. This view changes as the movie points out tribes instead of Indians as just one group. Some of the tribes are shown dangerous and not to be messed with while others are friendly, still each tribe treats Johnson as “outsider.” Indians are not portrayed as greater than “...
These are our intentions when we are producing these films. Our films are to promote Chickasaw culture and history. We are focused on building new ways of cultural learning, new types of artistic expression, and new ways of preserving traditional stories. We have an opportunity and an obligation to prepare our future generations to continue preserve our heritage and history. Chickasaw Nation Productions thrive on working together and building bridges as a means to a greater end. As technology changes, so do people. We make our films to adapt to these changes, and being innovative in our methods of artistic expression and storytelling. It’s how our cultures have always communicated, and our oral stories were passed down generation to generation. Understanding those films can lead to positive representations of Native people and how to integrate them into educating collective masses is a vital step in defining our future. Our films are part of the Chickasaw Nation’s effort to tell the true story of Native Americans from a Native American perspective the social, emotional, and intellectual tools we provide to our
Many people are unaware of how harmful and hurtful this stereotype is. According to Frozen in Time: The Impact of Native American Media Representations on Identity and Self Understanding, these stereotypes “result in poorer self-esteem and mental health for Native youth [while] also contribut[ing] to the development of cultural biases and prejudices (39). The inaccurate representations of Native American Indians in the media encourages an identity that is not true.
Western films are the major defining genre of the American film industry, a eulogy to the early days of the expansive American frontier. They are one of the oldest, most enduring and flexible genres and one of the most characteristically American genres in their mythic origins - they focus on the West - in North America. Western films have also been called the horse opera, the oater (quickly-made, short western films which became as common place as oats for horses), or the cowboy picture. The western film genre has portrayed much about America's past, glorifying the past-fading values and aspirations of the mythical by-gone age of the West. Over time, westerns have been re-defined, re-invented and expanded, dismissed, re-discovered, and spoofed. But, most western movies ideas derived from characteristics known to the Native Americans and Mexicans way before the American culture knew about it. What you probably know as a good old western American movie originated from a culture knows as vaqueros (cowboys for Spanish). They are many misrepresentations of cultures and races shown throughout movies from as early as 1920's with silent films. Although one could argue that silent film era was more politically correct then now a day films, the movie industry should not have the right of misrepresenting cultures of Mexicans, Indians and there life styles in films known as western films.
In 1775 North America was mostly owned and settled by Native Americans. Native Americans were the first settlers on North America, but slowly, when the Americans no longer needed the help of the Native Americans, they started to view them as savages and outsiders. They then began to weed out the traditionalists and have them assimilate to the American culture. “Thunderheart” is a incredible heartfelt film based on cultural identity, the mistreatment of indians over years of U.S. history, and factual events that took place in the 1970’s on the Oglala Sioux Reservation. The film is a loosely based fictional portrayal of events relating to the Wounded Knee incident in 1973. Followers of the American Indian Movement seized the South Dakota town of Wounded Knee in protest against federal government policy regarding Native Americans. As well as the turmoil within their own people on the American Indian
Despite many problematic dynamics that perpetuate stereotypes of Native Americans or fail to fully and accurately portray them, the audience is provided with a different insight of the actual history regarding Native Americans and white settlers that invoked violence, as the real savages amongst these tribes who resided
For most Americans, their knowledge of Native Americans and their culture of both past and present are based predominantly on outdated labels and stereotypes. Over the past 7 weeks, we have covered several sources that have contributed to the continuous development of the stereotypical images that have unsettled the Native Americans over time. These misleading pictures, novels, Hollywood films, professional sports mascots, and other mediums have misrepresented and alienated the indigenous peoples within in each respective time period regarding the current Euro-American centered culture. In order to empathize with their situation one need to understand how and why these stereotypical images of Native Americans were first created in the first