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Representation of African-American women in the movie Foxy Brown Essay (Movie Review)

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Updated: Nov 20th, 2019

Introduction

The movie, Foxy Brown, was about a beautiful African-American woman who resorted to acts of revenge after her boyfriend who was a government agent was shot dead by gangsters. The gangsters had been guided and led by certain malicious couples into committing the murder.

The boyfriend, Michael, was killed in unclear circumstances leading to Foxy Brown’s belief that justice had not been done to her and her boyfriend. Although Pam Grier, better known as Foxy Brown in the movie, was portrayed as being a strong, mean, focused, vengeful and overzealous woman, an in-depth analysis of her character reveals very unique gender and race oriented attributes that were conspicuous to the overall perception of women of the time.

There existed a close correlation between being black and strong. The focus on life for Foxy Brown lay in fighting for what she believed to be right and fair in the society (Guerrero 394-427). This paper reveals that though represented as equally strong and focused as their male counterparts, African-American women were still considered to be the weaker gender. African-American women were either willingly or unknowing misused by people who had very selfish desires.

Race and gender in Foxy Brown

In the movie, women emerged as people who were out to fight for the common good of others in the society. In spite of some women having selfish interests in the manner in which they handle relationship issues, it was evident that most of them were focused on ensuring that life was fair to both genders.

By featuring Fox, a female actor, the movie revealed unique aspects of black women in the society. It emerged that women had strong willpower and the ability to revolutionize the world by manipulating men. They acted as if they were innocent but in the real sense they were not. Foxy Brown successfully managed to showcase formidable levels of “indecent” behavior while at the same time effectively battling villains.

She was tactful. She was knowledgeable enough on what men liked in a woman. Foxy pretended to be a model in order to infiltrate the Modeling Agency, a company she believed was responsible for the murder of her boyfriend. She successfully exploited the expectations that people had of a black woman. She was violent and “indecent” in order to please men and access vital information (Mask 229-231).

It was evident that the actor was very influential in many films. According to Lee (17-23), black women in Hollywood movies were effectively portrayed as being strong and autonomous in the society. It also emerged that black women were rebellious and did not fully support men as was expected in the society.

Historical aspects of the movie

Historically, women in Hollywood movies were effectively portrayed as people who were infatuated with being big and muscular. To them, these were sure indicators that one was energetic enough to fight and address critical societal issues. Though not out rightly correct, this issue latter emerged to be a major fallacy as women who were acting and winning major fights in Hollywood movies were hardly big and muscular as is vividly explained in the scholarly works of Lee (2010: 45-63).

In the movie, it was evident that Hollywood heroines were not only obsessed with weight but also with catching the attention of men. The obsession was not based on the natural desire by women to be in the company of men and thus have a sure sense of security and belongingness, but rather as a sign of pride.

As evidenced in the movie, Foxy Brown, women were neurotic, vengeful, indecent and silly due to their poor judgments in times of danger and had constant desires for weddings. According to Lee (34-41), the vengeful nature of women was portrayed in the manner in which the voluptuous black lady in the Foxy Brown movie accepted a job as a model in order to revenge on the equally dangerous mobsters who she believed murdered her boyfriend.

The African-American lady, Foxy, was used in the movie, Foxy Brown, to portray black women as being very strong, fearless, and uncharacteristically daring compared to their white counterparts. Mean and nice, Brown was used in the movie to reveal the fact that women in society not only demanded to be treated fairly but could also be revengeful if they did not receive the type of treatment they expected. As was the norm in most Hollywood films of the 1970s, women were supportive in nature.

They were also portrayed to be submissive and straightforward. Black women in the films were used to elicit indecent mannerisms in the movies and thus acted as commercial means of attracting and improving the numbers of male viewers of the films. Hollywood films were dominated by African-American women’s use of intense indecent scenes in which they exploited men due to their gender based characteristics (Guerrero 389-453; Lee 34-41).

Though made from masculine points of views, the movies of the 1970s depicted black women as having been indecent and deceiving. Sadly, these movies were dominated by very biased portrayal of women in the society some of which were hard to prove. In some of the films of the time, African-American women were portrayed as people who were obsessed with image and highly driven by the constant desire to please men at the expense of focusing on the common good of the society.

Historically, African-American female film actors were portrayed as being the weaker gender. They were believed to be naïve, innocent, physically weak, and socially believed to be righteous. Issues changed when Fox Brown revealed very unique behaviors that had been very uncharacteristic of women. However, this aspect was never a true representation of the manner in which black women in the United States and in the European nations were being treated (Guerrero 389-453).

Use of formal film elements in movies

The elements of editing, cinematography and “blaxploitation” which are also known as “blacksploitation” were tactfully used in the Foxy Brown film to effectively represent women. The elements of professional film making were employed in an attempt to ensure that most of the scenes in the movie become as realistic as possible (Guerrero 389-453).

The elements were used in exaggerating some of the actions of the film which would have otherwise been impossible to perform under normal circumstances. In the film, editing, “blaxploitation” and cinematography played crucial roles in exemplifying the role of both Christine Love and Foxy Brown (Mask 228-232). The elements proved vital in ensuring that sensitive societal issues were communicated in a friendly manner.

Conclusion

From the above analysis, it is evident that African-American women played fundamental roles in shaping the role of women in the society. The film, Foxy Brown, emerged as a unique and well thought out piece of art that clearly brought out the true representation of African-American women as used in films in the 1970s.

It was also apparent that African-American women were not physically strong as their male counterparts. Despondent as it may sound; indeed African-American women were considered to be the weaker gender and took advantage of it or were misused by their male counterparts to achieve selfish interests.

Works Cited

Guerrero, Ed. The Rise and fall of blaxploitation. The Wiley-Blackwell History of American Film, eds, New York, USA: Cynthia Lucia, Roy Grundmann, Art Simon, 2012. Vol. 3, 389-453.Print.

Lee, Felicia. Pam Grier’s Collection of Lessons Learned, USA: The New York Times, 2010.Print.

Mask, Mia. Ed. Contemporary Black American Cinema: Race, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies, New York, USA: Routledge Publishers, 2012.Mask 228-232.Print.

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IvyPanda. "Representation of African-American women in the movie Foxy Brown." November 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/representation-of-african-american-women-in-the-movie-foxy-brown/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Representation of African-American women in the movie Foxy Brown." November 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/representation-of-african-american-women-in-the-movie-foxy-brown/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Representation of African-American women in the movie Foxy Brown'. 20 November.

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