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book spotlight: implications and distinctions by martine syms

It’s a rare book that usefully links Bob Sutton and Jar Jar Binks. Well, that’s what Martine Syms manages to do in “Implications and Distinctions: Format, Content and Context in Contemporary Race Film.” Martine is an artist/curator/generally artsy person in Chicago. I met her at the MDW Fair in April (see my write up here) and she told me she was finishing up a book on Black film. I decided to check it out.

Implications and Distinctions is a short text that falls in the realm of cultural criticism. The theme is how Blackness appears in film as a topic, reference, marker, and audience. It touches on a number of fascinating topics, ranging from the history of Black film to the struggles of black owned theaters in Chicago (which I have been to).

The funnest section is a passage discussing the origins of the “ghetto talk” scene in the movie Airplane! The directors were looking for Black actors to satirize the kind of talk found in film Shaft. Norman Gibbs and Alvin White invented their jive talk for the audition to appeal to the director. Now, ironically, a lot of people probably believe that’s the way that people really talk. Another point for performativity theories.

Implications and Distinctions is a good read for anyone interested in film and race. It’s also a great example of what socially engaged humanities should be. Serious, yet accessible. Finally, in case you were wondering, Sutton is mentioned because of his writing on swearing in the workplace.

Written by fabiorojas

August 17, 2011 at 12:06 am

Posted in books, fabio

2 Responses

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  1. Glad you enjoyed the text Fabio! We’ll have to get a lunch and talk black culture one day. Take care, M

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    Martine Syms

    August 17, 2011 at 1:59 am

  2. […] Implications and Distinctions by Martine Syms […]

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