Permalink for this paragraph 0 I pondered other films outside of Disney to apply this criticism to, and settled on one of my favorites, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. I have some ideas about this film concerning African-American criticism, but not necessarily a thesis…if anyone has more thoughts to add, please feel free.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 This film is set in 1937, and centers on three white men who escape their chain gang and are being pursued by a sinister sheriff and his hound dogs. The men hope to find the money that one of them had stolen and buried before being put in jail, and along the way they encounter a variety of criminals, politicians, hitchhikers, and even experience borderline Biblical/supernatural events.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Even though this movie takes place in Mississippi, there are only a few African-Americans represented. First, the three men encounter an old blind African-American man traveling on the railroad in a handcar. He lets them hitch a ride, and proceeds to tell them their futures in a very cryptic manner. I think this a possible example of a common theme in literature and movies that my small group discussed in class on Friday– a black man helping a white person with his sage advice and knowledge. This could be interpreted in many different ways, but for me two possibilities come to mind: a white person would not be able to become the person they should be without the help from the wise black man, and therefore this could be an attempt to “overcorrect” and erase white guilt by portraying white people as intellectually inferior; the black man being used for the advancement of a white person, and not getting his deserved credit by playing a seemingly minor role in the film/ literary work.
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Another African-American the escapees encounter is a young musician named Tommy, who reveals he met with the devil and sold his soul in order to get amazing musical talent. Being one of the only African-Americans represented in the film, this has very negative connotations. However, Tommy follows up his story by describing the devil– he says that the devil is a white man with a physical description that seems very similar to the sheriff who is chasing the three men. Could this be more overcorrecting– equating white people to the devil? The film did not necessarily have to describe the devil. If it was in order to illustrate how the sheriff is actually a corrupt villain, I think it is unnecessary because there are many other times in the film that this is demonstrated. Or, is it still a negative portrayal of African-Americans because Tommy sold his soul to evil?
Permalink for this paragraph 0 Does anyone who has seen the movie have other thoughts on the depiction of African-Americans in this film? What about how white people are portrayed?