The of blackness. According to Jhally and Lewis

The
Birth of a Nation, a
film released by D.W Griffith in 1915, which
reinforced the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist group as the saviours of white
women from black men who driven by sexual desire after the end of slavery in
the southern United States. Perhaps it cal-cultural
climate of ‘race’ 5,is best to say that this is the most anti-black film
ever made, however, it brings a huge improvement in the art of film-making and
television shows. In this sense, the representations in mainstream media can
both “register and contribute to the shifting political-cultural climate of
‘race” (Cottle, 2000, p. 11). The Cosby Show (US,
1984-1992), is one of the most popular sitcoms that capture
wide audiences in America and South Africa, works
as a site of resistance through the articulation of alternative representations
of African Americans. The show has been credited for its positive depictions of
successful middle-class and highly educated black family that help in
enlightening race relations. According to Hall (1973), by giving audience
members the ability to be oppositional readers, this may lead to new
possibilities of challenging dominant hierarchies and ideology around African
American community. In fact, many black and non-white postcolonial audiences
express their affinity with The Cosby
Show because of a mutual history of racial-colonial exploitation and
contemporary class oppressions that derive from the past (Spivak, 1990).

Though The Cosby
Show has overcome previous racist stereotypes, however, there are still
complexities in its politics of representations of blackness. According to Jhally
and Lewis (1992), it can be seen as either “social progressive” or as a defence
against previous racist practices. In this sense, these images can be quite
ambiguous as the show is simply installing new characteristics into the representation
of black community, however, do not mirroring the realistic imaginary of typical
African American family. This form of
representation is similar to fictions, “they are created to serve as
substitutions, standing in for what is real. They are there not to tell it like
it is but to invite and encourage pretense. They are a fantasy, a projection
onto the ‘Other’ that makes them less threatening” (Hooks, 1992, p. 170). Even
though the representation of black Americans in The Cosby Show may be too exceptional and unrealistic, but by
making these depictions publicly available, it allows the society to understand
race issue and response to it. The positive depictions of the Huxtable family
also work as a progressive force where it inspires the black community to see
and construct positive images on themselves and others. As Downing (1988)
explains, the upper-middle-class setting of the show, “is not simply a matter
of blanking out the ugly realities of continuing oppression, but also of
offering some sense of resolution to the grinding realities of racial tension
and mistrust in the United States” (p. 70). As a result, The Cosby Show offers
a potential to move beyond traditional racism by representing African-Americans
in a more positive way for the purpose of creating an impression of black social
advance and thus undermine black claims on white resources and sympathies (Cottle,
2000). From this perspective, dominant racialized representations possibly may
be contested and challenged.

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Hip Hop as
Resistance

As
Hall (1998) describes, popular culture works either as a form of containment or
a strategy of resistance. Though most of the representations and productions of
popular culture are controlled by the dominant group, but Foucault (2009)
argues that power does not only derive from top down, it exists everywhere and
can be used by anyone, even by those who are oppressed. In this case, black
community often become the targets of oppression by white people. However, it
is believe that black popular culture offers a promising space of resisting
racial domination, expressing hope, experiences, struggles, and articulating
oppositional identities. In Stuart Hall’s “What is This ‘Black’
in Black Popular Culture?” (1992), he describes the “black repertoires” of
which black popular culture originates as including style, music, and the use
of the body as a canvas of representation. Together these repertoires construct
a “black aesthetic” which Hall (1992) defines as the “distinctive cultural
repertoires out of which popular representations” of diaspora Blacks are made
(p. 290).

Rap music and hip-hop
in particular, have always been the central
part of black cultures in which deliberations of race, expression and
alteration of racial meanings could be achieved. Hip-hop culture includes
several foundational elements such as graffiti, breakdance, DJ-ing, and rap
music. According to Neal (1999), “Hip-Hop
emerged as the one of the first black popular music form to develop largely
unmediated by communal critique from the formal and informal structures of the
traditional Black Public Sphere” (p. 160). In this way, hip-hop or rap music not
only works as a creative agent, but also as “a cultural expression that prioritizes
black voices from the margin of urban America” (Rose, 1994, p.2). As Duncombe
(2002) explains, “Both the culture we enjoy and the culture in which we live
provide us with ideas of how things are and how they should be, frameworks
through which to interpret reality and possibility. They help us account for
the past, make sense of the present and dream of the future” (p. 35). In this
sense, hip-hop provides ideas to African-Americans youth and inspires them to
find solutions for the means of transformation, as well as defying the
oppression and discrimination

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