Analysis #7 Blacksploitation

“One of the most promising of the young Negroe poets said to me once, “I want to be a poet—not a Negroe poet,” meaning, I believe, “I want to write like a white poet”; meaning subconsciously, “I would like to be a white poet”; meaning by that “I would like to be white.” And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself. And I doubted then that, with his desire to run away spiritually from his race, this boy would ever be a great poet. But this is the mountain standing in the way of any true Negroe art in America—this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negroe and as much American as possible” (Hughes, 1192).

Hughes worries about the longing of black artists to not be black, to be American, and to be taken seriously, but he worries that through this they will lose something.

“But he worries about the price paid for gaining the attention of whites. The perils facing the black artist are so many – from self-loathing to currying the favor of whites to providing a safe window on the exotic world of the racial other – that success depends on an honesty and fearlessness that are almost too much to ask.” (1191)

This reminded me of Blacksploitation roles in film, in the following clip Roscoe Lee Brown discusses the same issues faced by black actors.

Analysis #6/Group Presentation Reflection

Our presentation was on Feminist theory, and I think it went fantastically. We had a great discussion with the class throughout and our slides had a good amount of information on them to teach the class, but not so much as to put them into a coma. Our videos got a huge response, most noticeably “Smack My Bitch Up” which was exactly what we were hoping for.

My personal role in our presentation was to help with the technical stuff, change slides, and gather information for the Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar slides.

Putting the Pieces Together Analysis #5

This trailer is for the movie Memento where the main character Leonard Shelby, has anterograde amnesia, which prevents him from making new memories. Leonard is able to recreate his identity daily, he leaves himself clues to tell him anything important that he needs to know. This enables him to add or destroy memories whenever he wants. The movie is also portrayed scene by scene, in reverse, which helps give off the idea of fragmentation. There are no constants. Lyotard suggests that postmodernism is continually redefined, and this is clearly visible in Memento. The clues Leonard leaves for himself daily are the signifiers and the actually events that they represent are the signified, however the two are not always related accurately. There is no sense of morality, Leonard is only looking for revenge time and again, even though he does not remember his revenge after he achieves it. It’s a vicious cycle, he spends his life reliving the same events, hunting down the same guy, and remembers none of it.

It's all About Marxism Analysis #4

In this clip Lucy and Ethel are the proletariat workers while their boss is clearly the bourgeoisie. Their boss intimidates them and makes them fear for their job if they do not do it quickly enough, without ever doing any of the physical work herself. She is only mental labor, the supervisor. While it is obviously meant to be humorous, it demonstrates the struggle of the physical laborers to keep production levels high. You are what you produce, and if you do not produce enough you are worthless. Your value is your ability to produce.

Another example I found myself thinking about as I learned about Marxism is Animal Farm. Marx could, in essence, be Old Major, the one who showed the animals that they were being mistreated and that they should rebel against their human master. In the beginning all of the animals were going to be equals, all working together. The pigs would be the mental labor and all of the other animals would be the physical labor, but they would be equal. This is Marxism, before things began to go awry. I think Animal Farm is pretty accurate though, it is only a matter of time before greed and laziness set in and begin to disrupt the shared labor and equality.

All workers are equal, but some are more equal than others

Marx describes the work force in Communism. A worker is only as good as their production rate and the value of the item they are producing. “A commodity is therefore a mysterious thing, simply because in it the social of men’s labor appears to them as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labor; because the relation of the producer’s to the sum total of their own labor is presented to them as a social relation, existing not between themselves, but between the products of their labor. This is the reason that the products of labor become commodities, social things whose qualities are at the same time perceptible and imperceptible by the senses.” (664) The creation of a commodity is only possible if there is someone to labor over producing the commodity, and the labor itself therefore becomes commodified.

“The character that his own labor possesses of being socially useful takes the form of the condition, that the product must not be only useful, but useful for others, and the social character that this particular labor has of being equal of all other particular kinds of labor, takes the form that all physically different articles that are the products of labor, have one common quality, viz., that of having value” (666). If a product is not useful to others the labor is useless and a waste of time.

Footloose and Fancy Free Analysis #3

“Yes, in his mind the woman has got a penis, in spite of everything; but this penis is no longer the same as it was before. Something else has taken its place, has been appointed its substitute, as it were, and now inherits the interest, which was formerly directed to its predecessor. But this interest suffers an extraordinary increase as well, because the horror of castration has set up memorial to itself in the creation of this substitute. Furthermore, an aversion, which is never absent in any fetishist, to the female genitals remains a stigma indelebile of the repression that has taken place. We can now see what the fetish achieves and what it is that maintains it. It remains a token of triumph over the threat of castration and a protection against it. It also saves the fetishist from becoming a homosexual, by endowing women with the characteristic that makes them tolerable as sexual objects. In later life, the fetishist feels that he enjoys yet another advantage from his substitute for a genital. The meaning of the fetish is not known to other people, so the fetish is not withheld from him it is easily accessible and he can readily obtain the sexual satisfaction attached to it. What other men have to woo and make exertions for can be had by the fetishist with no trouble at all” (Freud, 843).

As Freud so eloquently explains, fetishes are a substitute for the penis in women. Born out of the realization that their mother’s do not have a penis, and the subsequent fear of their own castration. The fetish gives them something else to focus on, instead of a woman’s genitalia, which would be a constant reminder of the missing phallus for the fetishist.

Freud also talks about the superiority fetishists feel at the ease of their own self-fulfillment, since the subject that is gratifying it would not know the object of their fetish. I have actually witnessed this firsthand, I was once asked by an acquaintance if they could rub my earlobes. I did not think anything of the request except that it was strange, he explained it by merely saying it helps calm him when he is feeling nervous, and he only brings it up to women because they are less judgmental. In hindsight I realize now that this was probably a fetish, whether he knew it or not.

Fetishes are showcased in mainstream media more than people probably realize. Quentin Tarantino frequently showcases naked female feet in many of his movies. The following clip shows some of the more obvious instances of this.

In an interview where he was directly asked about whether or not he had a foot fetish Tarantino replied “I appreciate the female foot, but I've never said that I have a foot fetish. But I am a lower track guy. I like legs... I like booties... [Laughs] Let's just say, I have a black male sexuality.” He does not deny that he has a foot fetish, just that he has never admitted to saying he does.

Freud, Sigmund. "Fetishism". ed. Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Oh Meaning Where Art Thou?

“The image of literature to be found in ordinary culture is tyrannically centered on the author, his person, his life, his tastes, his passions, while criticism still consists for the most part in saying that Baudelaire’s work is the failure of Baudelaire the man, Van Gogh’s his madness, Tchaikovsky’s his vice. The explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fiction, the voice of a single person, the author ‘confiding’ in us” (1322).

Certain writers have tried to distance the text from the author. “Mellarme was doubtless the first to see and to foresee in its full extent the necessity to substitute language itself for the person who until then had been supposed to be its owner. For him, for us too, it is language which speaks, not the author; to write is, through a prerequisite impersonality to reach that point where only language acts, ‘performs’ and not ‘me’ (1323). This is the beginning of the death of the author. Things should not be written for the author themselves, they should be written with the reader in mind, otherwise the work is meaningless to all but the author. Barthes suggests using ambiguous characters to resist writing in oneself. When the author is distanced from the text it becomes more easily accessible and allows readers to find meaning.

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