The triple crown of Oscars awarded to Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, and Sidney Poitier on a single evening in 2002 seemed to mark a turning point for African Americans in cinema. Certainly it was hyped as such by the media, eager to overlook the nuances of this sudden embrace. In this new study, author David Leonard uses this event as a jumping-off point from which to discuss the current state of African-American cinema and the various genres that currently compose it. Looking at such recent films as Love and Basketball, Antwone Fisher, Training Day, and the two Barbershop films--all of which were directed by black artists, and most of which starred and were written by blacks as well--Leonard examines the issues of representation and opportunity in contemporary cinema.
In many cases, these films-which walk a line between confronting racial stereotypes and trafficking in them-made a great deal of money while hardly playing to white audiences at all. By examining the ways in which they address the American Dream, racial progress, racial difference, blackness, whiteness, class, capitalism and a host of other issues, Leonard shows that while certainly there are differences between the grotesque images of years past and those that define today's era, the consistency of images across genre and time reflects the lasting power of racism, as well as the black community's response to it.
"Those who buy this polemical book will find it leads to much discussion." - Choice
"In this study, Leonard examines a sampling of recent African American films in order to assess the extent to which they reflect racial progress or help perpetuate racial inequality and white privilege. Most of the films analyzed were written by, directed by, and starred black artists." - Reference & Research Book News/Art Book News Annual