Ethnic Notions Essay

Response to Movie Ethnic Notions Essay example

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Response to Movie "Ethnic Notions"

The movie 'Ethnic Notions' describes different ways in which African-Americans were presented during the 19th and 20th centuries. It traces and presents the evolution of the rooted stereotypes which have created prejudice towards African-Americans. This documentary movie is narrated to take the spectator back to the antebellum roots of African-American stereotypical names such as boy, girl, auntie, uncle, Sprinkling Sambo, Mammy Yams, the Salt and Pepper Shakers, etc. It does so by presenting us with multiple dehumanized characters and cartons portraying African-Americans as carefree Sambos, faithful Mammies, savage Brutes, and wide-eyed Pickaninnies. These representations of African-Americans roll…show more content…

If a movie of this sort had such an emotional impact on me, it is no wonder people embraced these ideas back then. The use of new and popular media methods in those days was more than adequate in transferring the black inferiority ideas to the general public. Beginning at the early 19th century with the happy, dancing, toothless, drunken Negro with big, bold and white lips to the image of the mid 21st century African-American, the media has always used these images to convey inferiority. These images implied inherent traits in the black community. This whole community was represented in the new media as one who can not be collateralized and integrated in to society without being happily enslaved. Most of these images had great commercial values that made it all the more impossible for the rest of the nation not to embrace the African American stereotypes.

According to my understanding, commercialization justified and imposed negative usage of black images as an example of the entire black community. The tremendous commercial value it had is what enabled the marketing industry to give good reason for the use of the above mentioned negative images of blacks. Although words are not used, the sudden attitude changes and actions indicate what could be easily translated by the use of the ?n-word?, ?boy? or other obvious language. What is outraging is that most of those nicknames can still be found in our contemporary society covertly if not overtly. Black

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"Ethnic Notions" Analysis

"Ethnic Notions" is a historical film that takes the viewer through the entire course of American history from the 1820s to the 1980s. The songs, watching the films and seeing all the artifacts is what makes this film such a powerful tool. The film describes some of the terms that were used to depict black Americans. Well into the twentieth century the "Mammy", the "Coon", and the ""Sambo"" were all terms used in reference to black Americans. In 1941 the cartoon was made and made its way into many of the homes of American culture.

In the early 1900s the image of the "Sambo" spread and it became a portrayal of black men in film. The Character is lazy and irresponsible that will easily avoid work to take part in food and dance. As the civil war approached, a new character accompanied the "Sambo", the "Zip Coon". This character tried to portray whites that mocked the notion of racial equality. With these two together, they both defended slavery by saying that blacks can't handle freedom.

In films the role of the ""Mammy"" was a servant that was stereotypically a very dark and heavy woman that had her priorities set to doing whatever her master or mistress wished. "Mammy" was shown as a loyal person that was protective over the white household. She was a powerful person which became a stable figure in each image of the south. It became hard to go without seeing this character in a southern home. This character was also a defender of slavery. But within her own family the "Mammy" is the controlling force which is the direct opposite of the...

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