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Blacks and Whites in Movies

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The object of this paper is to portray the role of African Americans and Whites in modern contemporary films. It is evident that there has been a great deal of effort in the integration of black people into American society. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has strived to undo the ties of segregation and disenfranchisement of African Americans. The NAACP has used several strategies to overturn segregation rules and obtain suffrage for black citizens. With the introduction of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s, the motto “We shall overcome’ served as inspiration for the fight against segregation. Although much effort has been made to integrate black people into society over the years, there still exists significant segregation with respect to roles in motion pictures and modern film. However, great advancements have been made in recent years to overcome this struggle to equally include African Americans in the wealth and success of the media culture. With the recent surge of technological advancement and media industry, the black role has simultaneously advanced. The African American history of struggle, misrepresentation, and segregation has been the theme of many modern movies, music, and television shows. African Americans are taking advantage of this opportunity to represent the African American culture, even though it serves to explain their historical oppression and misfortune and not of their success and well-being. They are turning a negative history into a positive career and future. Approximately eighty years ago, it was only a thought that African Americans should indeed make movies and appear in the big screen alongside white actors and actresses. Today this dream is now reality. The road to making motion pictures with the inclusion of African Americans has been evolutionary on all levels with lots of observable changes. The movie industry has become more willing to produce new themes and films featuring African Americans as stars.

The advancement of African Americans in the movie industry has become evident with their recent accolades in film roles and production. The Oscars present a golden statuette to a person in recognition of their achievements in the filmmaking industry. History was made in 2001 when African Americans won in both the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. This was the first time an African American woman has ever won this category. Also, in 2003, films were produced that included the first performances by African-born actors to receive nominations. Some say that these victories mark the beginning of a new era or more importantly the end of an old, oppressed one. The Oscars were won purely out of talent and not because of symbolism or pity. The turn of the century seems to have brought along with it the commencement of new opportunities as well as newly defined roles for African American stars. Hollywood’s long history of indifference to black talent is clearly over.

A prime example of the role of African Americans in the filmmaking industry can be seen in the 1992 movie The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. This movie depicts the talent and brilliance of two great stars. Whitney Houston made her film debut in this movie in which she is a popular and highly admired music/movie superstar. One fan plans her demise and plots to kill her. That is where, Kevin Costner, her bodyguard, step in. They unexpectedly fall in love. This inter-racial relationship was accepted by the American audience. There were no references to black discrimination or inferiority in this movie. Whitney and Kevin’s characters developed a relationship based purely on unconditional love and caring. The idea of inter-racial relationships was never a factor in their love. The color of their skin had nothing to do with the human bond they shared. Whitney’s character, Rachel Marron, was a cocky, extroverted African American woman who was highly successful in her music and movie-making career. Her character was rare because most African American actresses portray the role of unsuccessful, burdened women. Kevin Costner’s character, Frank Farmer, was humble and introverted. He lived by himself and was very lonely. His life would be complete if he had companionship and love. When Rachel and Frank went on their first date at a bar, there were both black and white people in attendance. This shows that there was no segregation of races and inter-racial relationships were not frowned upon. Racial harmony existed in this movie.

In 2001 (nine years later), Monster’s Ball was produced starring Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton. Unlike, The Bodyguard, this movie had strong racial vibes. The characters of Billy Bob and Peter Boyle were extremely racist. An example of their ominous hatred for African Americans is the scene when Billy Bob’s character, Hank, fired

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