Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film

Divas on Screen: Black Women in American Film

by Mia Mask
     
 

ISBN-10: 0252076192

ISBN-13: 9780252076190

Pub. Date: 06/16/2009

Publisher: University of Illinois Press

This insightful study places African American women's stardom in historical and industrial contexts by examining the star personae of five African American women: Dorothy Dandridge, Pam Grier, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Halle Berry. Interpreting each woman's celebrity as predicated on a brand of charismatic authority, Mia Mask shows how these female

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Overview

This insightful study places African American women's stardom in historical and industrial contexts by examining the star personae of five African American women: Dorothy Dandridge, Pam Grier, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Halle Berry. Interpreting each woman's celebrity as predicated on a brand of charismatic authority, Mia Mask shows how these female stars have ultimately complicated the conventional discursive practices through which blackness and womanhood have been represented in commercial cinema, independent film, and network television.

Mask examines the function of these stars in seminal yet underanalyzed films. She considers Dandridge's status as a sexual commodity in films such as Tamango, revealing the contradictory discourses regarding race and sexuality in segregation-era American culture. Grier's feminist-camp performances in sexploitation pictures Women in Cages and The Big Doll House and her subsequent blaxploitation vehicles Coffy and Foxy Brown highlight a similar tension between representing African American women as both objectified stereotypes and powerful, self-defining icons. Mask reads Goldberg's transforming habits in Sister Act and The Associate as representative of her unruly comedic routines, while Winfrey's daily television performance as self-made, self-help guru echoes Horatio Alger narratives of success. Finally, Mask analyzes Berry's meteoric success by acknowledging the ways in which Dandridge's career made Berry's possible.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780252076190
Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
Publication date:
06/16/2009
Edition description:
1st Edition
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction 1

1 Dorothy Dandridge's Erotic Charisma 13

2 Pam Grier: A Phallic Idol of Perversity and Sexual Charisma 58

3 Goldberg's Variations on Comedic Charisma 105

4 Oprah Winfrey: The Cathartic, Charismatic Capitalist 141

5 Halle Berry: Charismatic Beauty in a Multicultural Age 185

Notes 233

Selected Bibliography 269

Index 291

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