Black Children in Hollywood Cinema - Debbie Olson
From Jeffrey Sudduth on March 7th, 2018
This lecture examines the relationship between how African American children are depicted in popular media and how black children in the United States are often considered prone to violence and criminality. It discusses the notion of the child, its universal construction, and the erasure of the black child from Hollywood cinema. Discussions about children of color among scholars often take place within contexts such as crime, drugs, urbanization, poverty, or lack of education that tend to reinforce historical stereotypes about African Americans. This study addresses the significance of the image of the black child to the current cultural construction of childhood. How does the image of the black child affirm or subvert popular notions of childhood in contemporary American society? Do prevalent black “gangsta” images help inform cultural perceptions of black children? Does the historical image of the African child inform those of the African American child?
Debbie Olson, PhD, is assistant professor of English at Missouri Valley College. Her research interests include images of African/African American children in films and television, critical race theory, cultural studies, and children in New Hollywood film. Her books include: (with Andrew Scahill) Lost and Othered Children in Contemporary Cinema (Lexington 2012) and (with Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic) Portrayals of Children in Popular Culture: Fleeting Images (Lexington 2013), The Child in the Films of Alfred Hitchcock (Palgrave 2014), The Child in Post-Apocalyptic Cinema (Lexington 2015). Her first monograph, The Black Child in Hollywood Cinema: Cast in Shadow (forthcoming Palgrave 2017) examines the black child in popular Hollywood cinema.