African American Domestic Servants in Contemporary Cinema



Year of publication 2015
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description The overall goal of the presentation is to draw attention to the ways the film producers have presented the African American female characters in The Help, one of the most popular African American related films in the recent years. The first part of the presentation will be about the African American stereotypes as presented in the Ethnic Notions documentary and in Donald Bogle's book Toms Coons, Mulattoes & Bucks. Particular attention will be given to the Mammy character which is vital for the subsequent analysis of the selected film, The Help. The second part will deal with the analysis of The Help. As mentioned, the analysis will concentrate on the way film producers decided to depiction the Mammy character in the film. To a certain extent the findings will be compared to the Mammy characters from other films—Gone with the Wind, Lee Daniels’s The Butler. The presentation will show that there are quite a few stereotyped depictions of African American servants. However, as will be shown in the presentation, the film’s depiction of African American female characters is an improvement when compared to the earlier works which were often strongly biased. The end of the presentation will be devoted to future analyses of the topic. For instance, the shift in the depiction of African Americans that happened in the recent years, especially in the most recent films The Selma, and Lee Daniels’s The Butler.
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