Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film
Reckless Eyeballing: Coonskin and the Racial Grotesque
This chapter focuses on Ralph Bakshi’s Coonskin (1975) as an exercise in the racial grotesque. The film casts blackness as an absurd modality of critical dialogism with, among other things, the history of American animation, the New South ideal, vernacular cosmopolitanism, the blaxploitation film cycle, the cultural imperialism of Disney, and the countercultural comix of the 1960s. The film performs a radical resignification and critique of the stereotype as commodity fetish, especially the continued naïve and uncritical circulation of this iconography through mass media. Through a textual analysis devoted to one scene of Coonskin, the chapter discusses the ideological texture of the film. Coonskin is a difficult film that challenges by exaggerating and redirecting the cathected intention of stereotypicality.
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