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Hollywood's Africa after 1994

MaryEllen Higgins

Publication Year: 2012

Hollywood’s Africa after 1994 investigates Hollywood’s colonial film legacy in the postapartheid era, and contemplates what has changed in the West’s representations of Africa. How do we read twenty-first-century projections of human rights issues—child soldiers, genocide, the exploitation of the poor by multinational corporations, dictatorial rule, truth and reconciliation—within the contexts of celebrity humanitarianism, “new” military humanitarianism, and Western support for regime change in Africa and beyond? A number of films after 1994, such as Black Hawk Down, Hotel Rwanda, Blood Diamond, The Last King of Scotland, The Constant Gardener, Shake Hands with the Devil, Tears of the Sun, and District 9, construct explicit and implicit arguments about the effects of Western intervention in Africa. Do the emphases on human rights in the films offer a poignant expression of our shared humanity? Do they echo the colonial tropes of former “civilizing missions?” Or do human rights violations operate as yet another mine of sensational images for Hollywood’s spectacular storytelling?

The volume provides analyses by academics and activists in the fields of African studies, English, film and media studies, international relations, and sociology across continents. This thoughtful and highly engaging book is a valuable resource for those who seek new and varied approaches to films about Africa.

Contributors: Harry Garuba and Natasha Himmelman; Margaret R. Higonnet, with Ethel R. Higgonet; Joyce B. Ashuntantang; Kenneth W. Harrow; Christopher Odhiambo; Ricardo Guthrie; Clifford T. Manlove; Earl Conteh-Morgan; Bennetta Jules-Rosette, J. R. Osborn, and Lea Marie Ruiz-Ade; Christopher Garland; Kimberly Nichele Brown; Jane Bryce; Iyunolu Osagie; and Dayna Oscherwitz.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Introduction: African Blood, Hollywood’s Diamonds? Hollywood’s Africa after 1994

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pp. 1-14

At the conclusion of Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond, Ambassador Walker lectures an audience about the complicity of Westerners in the human crises fueled by conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone...

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1: The Cited and the United

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pp. 25-34

In The Last King of Scotland (Kevin Macdonald, 2007), a newly qualified Scottish medical doctor sits in front of a map of the world pondering where he should go to escape from the stifling world of his boring, conventional bourgeois family. The map, a little globe, sits on his table...

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2: The Troubled Terrain of Human Rights Films: Blood Diamond, The Last King of Scotland, and The Devil Came on Horseback

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pp. 35-53

The last decade has witnessed a proliferation not only of low-budget documentary films but of mass-market cinema with an apparent human rights agenda. This phenomenon invites a number of questions about the uses of cinema as a vehicle to effect social change...

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3: Hollywood’s Representations of Human Rights: The Case of Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda

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pp. 54-67

In recent years, Hollywood has produced “human rights” films— films that expose egregious abuses inflicted on ordinary people who do not receive support from local systems of justice and who do not have the means to articulate their stories to wide audiences...

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4: Hollywood’s Cowboy Humanitarianism in Black Hawk Down and Tears of the Sun

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pp. 68-82

In Reading Humanitarian Intervention, Anne Orford observes that “legal texts justifying interventions in the name of human rights protection offer a narrative in which the international community as heroic savior rescues those passive victims who suffer...

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5: Again, the Darkness: Shake Hands with the Devil

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pp. 83-95

To prepare for a recent talk on human rights films, I decided to view two documentaries on Rwanda, Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire (Peter Raymont, 2004)...

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6: Ambiguities and Paradoxes: Framing Northern Intervention in The Constant Gardener

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pp. 96-109

This chapter explores how ambiguity and paradox as framing strategies have been wittingly, deceitfully, and ingeniously deployed...

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7: Minstrelsy and Mythic Appetites: The Last King of Scotland’s Heart of Darkness in the Jubilee Year of African Independence

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pp. 110-124

The stunning success of The Last King of Scotland (2006)—a fictional biopic starring acclaimed African American actor Forest Whitaker, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator...

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8: “An Image of Africa”: Representations of Modern Colonialism in Africa in Peter Jackson’s King Kong

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pp. 125-142

Looked at from the vantage point of historical context, it makes sense that Merian C. Cooper made his masterwork King Kong in 1933,1 given that its narrative portrays the intersecting histories...

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9: Plus Ça Change, Plus C’est la Même Chose: Hollywood’s Constructions of Africa in Lord of War

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pp. 143-156

In the world in general, and as one moves from one culture to another, mutual cultural stereotyping abounds. In other words, there is often a pervasive discrepancy between one’s experiences...

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10: New Jack African Cinema: Dangerous Ground; Cry, the Beloved Country; and Blood Diamond

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pp. 157-176

It is a truism that actions speak louder than words. In the case of film, action cinema has the power to override dialogue and deconstruct plot structure through the shock value of violence...

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11: “It Is a Very Rough Game, Almost as Rough as Politics”: Rugby as Visual Metaphor and the Future of the New South Africa in Invictus

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pp. 177-192

Clint Eastwood’s Invictus (2009) tells the story of Nelson Mandela’s role in transforming the image of South Africa’s national rugby team, the Springboks, from a divisive, apartheid-era hangover...

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12: “Every Brother Ain’t a Brother”: Cultural Dissonance and Nigerian Malaise in District 9’s New South Africa

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pp. 193-206

Hailed as the sleeper hit of the summer of 2009, District 9 uses a quasi documentary style to chart the demise of Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a slightly inept Afrikaner bureaucrat charged...

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13: Coaxing the Beast Out of the Cage: Secrecy and Disclosure in Red Dust and Catch a Fire

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pp. 207-221

Any discussion of two films in tandem suggests a comparative approach, the teasing out of similar or opposing motifs and shared or divergent meanings.1 The bracketing...

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14: Situating Agency in Blood Diamond and Ezra

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pp. 222-239

In its four decades of postindependence history, Sierra Leone has been marred by government corruption and greed, a widening gap between the small ruling elite and the poor masses, and an underlying ethnic tension at the political level (though not at the social and...

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15: Bye Bye Hollywood: African Cinema and Its Double in Mahamet-Saleh Haroun’s Bye Bye Africa

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pp. 240-260

Western cinema has lately rediscovered Africa, or so it would seem. In the past fifteen years, a number of films, including Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down (2001), Terry George’s...

Contributors

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pp. 261-266

Index

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pp. 267-274


E-ISBN-13: 9780821444337
E-ISBN-10: 0821444336
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821420157
Print-ISBN-10: 0821420151

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Africa -- In motion pictures.
  • Human rights in motion pictures.
  • Imperialism in motion pictures.
  • Culture conflict in motion pictures.
  • Motion pictures -- United States -- History -- 21st century.
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