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Black history in America often miscast in Hollywood

Tuesday - Feb 05, 2013, 03:58pm (GMT+5.5)
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Washington - There are two very different films in this year’s Oscars race for best picture that deal with the most significant aspect of black history in America: Slavery.

The black characters in ‘Lincoln’ primarily take a back seat in Steven Spielberg’s drama about President Abraham Lincoln’s battle to get the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery passed through Congress.

Whereas, in ‘Django Unchained’, Quentin Tarantino’s slave-revenge western, the title character, played by Jamie Foxx, is a freed slave-turned-bounty hunter who rescues his slave wife from a ruthless plantation owner in a hail of violence, ABC News reports.

According to the report, both the films have their detractors among black audiences.

Kate Masur, a history professor at Illinois’ Northwestern University, called ‘Lincoln’ an ‘opportunity squandered’ in an op-ed piece for The New York Times.

She said that ‘it’s disappointing that in a movie devoted to explaining the abolition of slavery in the United States, African-American characters do almost nothing, but passively wait for white men to liberate them’.

She added that ‘perhaps the greatest rhetorician of the 19th century, Frederick Douglass, who in fact attended the White House reception after Lincoln’s second inauguration in March 1865, is nowhere to be seen or heard,’ the report said.

According to the report, no matter which side of these controversies you come down on, the bottom line is Hollywood’s portrayal of black history is still a work in progress.

The risk, however, is not as great for someone like Spielberg or Tarantino, who took head on the so-called third rail of black history: slavery, it added.





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