Criminalizing Culture: Black Masculinity in the Era of Mass Incarceration




Braziel, Whitley

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This independent research seeks to analyze the industrial, cultural, and textual production of Black masculinity in commercial American film, from the Blaxploitation era of the 1970s to the digital present. I examine how the dominant media industry has constructed Blackness for national audiences, and how Black creatives, producers, performers, and audiences have responded to and intervened in these textual constructions and industrial spaces. In considering the cultural and political implications of, and struggles over, these representations, I examine how Blackness in film has intersected with, reinforced, and challenged dominant ideologies and meanings of race in America, as well as entrenched power structures and hierarchies. My research is built upon the theories of social construction, cultivation, and agenda setting, and utilizes a content analysis approach. Thus, my research surveys a range of historical and contemporary media texts of pop culture entertainment in order to track key movements, texts, and figures in the history of mediated Blackness, investigating how it has shifted over time in relation to different industrial configurations and sociopolitical contexts.



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