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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Showface and Storytelling: The Persistence of Blackface Imagery in Hollywood Films
by Chapple, Samara D., M.A., Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, 2018, 63; 10844558
Abstract (Summary)

This study analyzes blackface imagery in U.S. films released between the years 2004-2014. A persistent association of skin color with negative qualities such as violence and anger is problematic and dangerous. Such inequalities are being charged with resulting in symbolic and literal violence against nonwhite bodies. Film is a popular form of media that uses images to deliver a persistent message that can promote and hide hegemony (i.e., socializing the audience to accept inequalities embedded in racial hierarchical castes as natural). In other words, persistent stereotypical imagery may create judgments in public perceptions based on these biased social constructions of race, which privileges whiteness. Therefore, blackface imagery in films is a space to engage racial concepts. Following in the footsteps of Donald Bogle (2004) and Ed Guerrero (1993), this study uses visual methodology of compositional interpretation and semiology to analyze critically a random sample of films released domestically within the United States between the years 2004 to 2014. The findings in this study are based on a content analysis that monitors both the absence of blackness and the representations of blackness based on appearance, behavior, language, and location, and compares these images with blackface archetypes used originally in U.S. films to denigrate blackness and privilege whiteness. This study concludes that a hegemonic ideology still prevails in films released in the U.S. between the years 2004 to 2014 that either displays iterations of historical blackface imagery such as brute, sambo, sapphire/jezebel, tragic mulatto, and magic negro/savior; excludes blackness; or, does not represent blackness more than as background props.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wessinger, Sandra E.
Commitee: Hedley, Mark, Maatita, Florence
School: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: MAI 58/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Sociology
Keywords: Blackface imagery, Content analysis, Race-representations, Racial concepts, Whiteness
Publication Number: 10844558
ISBN: 978-1-392-21622-4
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