Black, white, and blue-collar noir: a study of changing depictions of race relations in film noir

King, Matthew (2015) Black, white, and blue-collar noir: a study of changing depictions of race relations in film noir. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the changing depictions of race relations between white working-class protagonists and African-American characters in film noir from two periods. In noirs of the 1940s and 1950s there is no evident racial tension, but in neo-noir of the 1970s black/white racial antagonism is common. This thesis contends that the political ideologies of classical noir filmmakers, which included sympathy for both the working class and racial minorities, had much to do with the positive depictions of race relations in classical film noir. The end of the studio system and financial turmoil that followed in the 1950s and 1960s caused many changes in the American movie industry, which led studios, for the first time, to experiment with film content and to hire new filmmakers to make films for a differentiated audience. The racial antagonism in neonoirs stems from three main sources: an effort by the studios to attract an urban African- American youth audience; realistic and auto-biographic filmmaking; and an effort by white middle-class filmmakers to both reject their own racist tendencies by a process called reaction formation, and also to live out their racist fantasies vicariously through white working-class film characters.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/8520
Item ID: 8520
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 144-162).
Keywords: film noir, working class, blaxploitation, New Hollywood, race relations
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: October 2015
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: United States
Library of Congress Subject Heading: African Americans in motion pictures; Working class in motion pictures; Race relations in motion pictures; Working class whites--United States--History--20th century; Motion pictures--Production and direction--United States--History--20th century

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