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Hollywood’s Image of “Africa”

Intriguing. Applies to news media as well as how non-whites and non-males are presented in American film/tv, even documentaries.

If the recurring stories and characters are too limited, how does one not just create new characters and stories but make those new characters and stories part of the mainstream?

Seems like a combination of pioneering and gradual process.

Sometimes rewriting an old story with a new kind of character works really well. Blade, for example, would have been a miserable movie with a white male protagonist (see Van Helsing for proof).

As another example, I was just watching watching Die Hard 3 and I think it would have been outstanding if Samuel L. Jackson’s character rather than John Mcclane was the protagonist (e.g. McClane gets critically injured at the beginning of the film so Jackson has to do everything and save the day).

I think SciFi/Fantasy (including the catch-all “Alternate History” genre) opens up exciting possibilities, less constrained by history and contemporary politics.

Why does this matter? Perhaps because it limits the commercial success of the American film industry. Perhaps because “Hollywood” in the abstract sense is America’s “Grimm’s Fairy Tales”, a collection of stories and characters with social-political context and purpose that mold our national identity. And perhaps because that abstract “Hollywood” is also part of how the USA exercises power beyond its borders.

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