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American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film$
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Trevor McCrisken and Andrew Pepper

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780748614899

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748614899.001.0001

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From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism: Hollywood V. Black America?

From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism: Hollywood V. Black America?

(p.160) Chapter 6 From Civil Rights to Black Nationalism: Hollywood V. Black America?
American History and Contemporary Hollywood Film

Trevor B. McCrisken

Andrew Pepper

Edinburgh University Press

If contemporary filmmakers have felt compelled to do away with the explicit racism of pre-civil rights Hollywood movie-making and make African Americans the subjects rather than the objects of their gaze, then the vexed question of how successfully their ambitions have been realised needs to be addressed. There has been a small but growing number of films made by African-American directors (that is, Spike Lee, Mario Van Peebles) whose focus is predominantly African-American subjects and which tend to privilege conflict and confrontation rather than reconciliation and assimilation. Examples of this type of film are Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Panther and Dead Presidents. Then there is Michael Mann's Ali (2001), a film about boxer Muhammad Ali. At stake is not only the question of how these black ‘independent’ films represent the struggle for racial equality and the emergence of black nationalism as a social, cultural and political force from the early 1960s onwards. Rather, it is also the viability of the distinction between Hollywood and this so-called black independent cinema in the first place.

Keywords:   black nationalism, African Americans, Hollywood, Spike Lee, Mario Van Peebles, Ali, Malcolm X, Panther, black independent cinema, racism

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