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Traumatic Victimhood or Black Rage? Contrasting Visions of Black Power

Traumatic Victimhood or Black Rage? Contrasting Visions of Black Power

Chapter:
(p.123) Chapter Four Traumatic Victimhood or Black Rage? Contrasting Visions of Black Power
Source:
The Bad Sixties
Author(s):
Kristen Hoerl
Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496817235.003.0005

This chapter examines contrasting depictions of the Black Power movement in Hollywood film and television that either confirmed or resisted what Herman Gray refers to as the “civil rights subject.” The first half of the chapter explains how nineties-era movies Malcolm X and Panther presented affirmative images of radical black protest but anchored these images to traumatic counter-memories of black victimhood. The second half of this chapter critically reviews a variety of negative portrayals of the Black Panthers in media products between 1994 and 2013 including the movies Forrest Gump, Barbershop 2, and The Butler, the miniseries ‘The 60s, and an episode of the television program Law & Order to argue that Hollywood has routinely depicted black rage, not structural racism or white violence as the central problem requiring tough-on-crime solutions. The chapter interprets these portrayals in the context of the political backlash against civil rights gains and racial inequities within the criminal justice system.

Keywords:   traumatic memory, the civil rights subject, post racialism, Malcolm X (the film), The Black Panther Party

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