Black Magic: White Hollywood & African-American Culture
Rutgers University Press
Why do so many African American film characters seem to have magical powers? And why do they use them only to help white people? When the actors are white, why is the sound track so commonly performed by African Americans? And why do so many white actors imitate black people when they wish to express strong emotion?
As Krin Gabbard brilliantly reveals in Black Magic, we duly recognize the cultural heritage of African Americans in literature, music, and art, but there is a disturbing pattern in the roles that blacks are asked to play-particularly in the movies. Many recent films, including The Matrix, Fargo, The Green Mile, Ghost, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Pleasantville, The Bridges of Madison County, and Crumb, reveal a fascination with black music and sexuality even as they preserve the old racial hierarchies. Quite often the dependence on African American culture remains hidden-although it is almost perversely pervasive. In the final chapters of Black Magic, Gabbard looks at films by Robert Altman and Spike Lee that attempt to reverse many of these widespread trends.