Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot

Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot

by Michael Rogin
     
 

ISBN-10: 0520213807

ISBN-13: 9780520213807

Pub. Date: 05/29/1998

Publisher: University of California Press

The founding Hollywood movie, Birth of a Nation, celebrated the Ku Klux Klan. The first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, was a blackface film. Gone With the Wind remains the all-time box-office success. From their beginnings, Michael Rogin claims, motion pictures created a national culture by taking possession of African Americans. Blackface, White Noise investigates…  See more details below

Overview

The founding Hollywood movie, Birth of a Nation, celebrated the Ku Klux Klan. The first talking picture, The Jazz Singer, was a blackface film. Gone With the Wind remains the all-time box-office success. From their beginnings, Michael Rogin claims, motion pictures created a national culture by taking possession of African Americans. Blackface, White Noise investigates Hollywood's roots in the most popular original form of American mass culture, blackface minstrelsy. Through its use in films from Uncle Tom's Cabin and Birth of a Nation to Forrest Gump, motion picture blackface becomes an aperture opening onto major issues of American national identity: the meanings of whiteness, the role race has played in turning settlers and immigrants into Americans, and the tangled connections that have bound Jews to African Americans in popular culture and liberal politics. Immigrant Jews inherited the blackface role in vaudeville, Tin Pan Alley, and Hollywood; Blackface, White Noise treats burnt cork as their rite of passage to white America. Arguing against those who subsume racial under ethnic identities, Rogin demonstrates that blackface presided over an ethnically inclusive and racially exclusionary melting pot. Juxtaposing movies like The Jazz Singer with such early civil rights films as Pinky and Gentleman's Agreement, he shows how the blackface tradition infected even those motion pictures that wished to repudiate it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780520213807
Publisher:
University of California Press
Publication date:
05/29/1998
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
1,320,811
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
1Uncle Sammy and My Mammy3
2Two Declarations of Independence: The Contaminated Origins of American National Culture19
3Nationalism, Blackface, and the Jewish Question45
4Blackface, White Noise: The Jewish Jazz Singer Finds His Voice73
5Racial Masquerade and Ethnic Assimilation in the Transition to Talking Pictures121
6New Deal Blackface159
7"We Could Cross These Racial Lines": Hollywood Discovers Civil Rights209
8Conclusion: Abington Township251
Notes269
List of Films Cited317
Index323

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