Representation of African Americans in the film industry

The initial movies produced in the American film industry were characterized by racism and stereotyping of African Americans. According to Cutler and Klotman (15-18), the black race appeared to be the most discriminated group in the history of the movie industry. In this regard, movies that were produced before the 1930s portrayed blacks as slaves who had no place in American society. An example is the film Birth of a Nation produced in 1915 by D.W Griffith. The film presented uncivilized images of African Americans. As a result, it provoked massive protests throughout the country (Bogle 10-18).

Although the demonstrations were disregarded by the government, they enabled the society to understand how the African Americans felt about their portrayal in films. Martin (405-410) states that the movie displayed the African American man as barbarian and obsessed with animalistic desire. He was often seen attacking white women. In the movie Birth of a Nation, these black men were punished through castration. Additionally, it tended to depict the white person as the victim and offered solutions to deport all black Americans back to Africa.

Another scene from the film portrayed black men as thieves as they were seen stealing whiskey during a meeting in South Carolina. Despite the demonstrations in various parts of America, the film continued to be popular among the whites and in turn, made enormous profits. It was also re-released in the following decade and continued to be popular among the movie lovers. Based on this movie, African Americans were associated with negative personalities and were viewed as inferior to the white race. Furthermore, the laws present during that period offered no solution with regard to the prevention of negative stereotypes.

Although progress has been made in the film industry with respect to the representation of African Americans, more efforts need to be made to eliminate the racial gap (Guerrero 15). Racial stereotyping still continues to characterize some of the films being produced today. The film 12 years a slave was produced in 2013, and it featured the lives of African Americans during the slavery period. Although the movie was based on a true story, it was seen to favor the narratives regarding the domination of the white race in the film industry. 

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