African Men, Hollywood Stereotypes & Fair Use

In an effort to combat stereotypes of African men in mainstream Hollywood movies, Joe Sabia created this doc-u-mashup for a non-profit organization called Mamma Hope. The organization works with local African groups to connect them with the resources required to transform their own communities.

Gabriel, Benard, Brian and Derrik (the Kenyan men in featured) wanted to make a video that pokes fun at the way African men are portrayed in Hollywood films. “If people believed only what they saw in movies, they would think we are all warlords who love violence.” The young men were tired of the over-sensationalized, one-dimensional depictions of African men and the white savior messaging that permeates American popular culture. They wanted to tell their own stories and Sabia, a remix artist in his own right, knew it would be most effective if their personal stories were combined with examples and visible reminders of recognizable tropes from Hollywood movies. 
A question I hear all the time is “isn’t it illegal to use the clips from Hollywood movies?” Really. Someone just asked me that. Still. Lack of education around our rights under fair use still permeates our online and offline culture. As we move more and more of our free speech online, it’s vital we understand and protect our rights in these spaces. So this is fair use because: the remix uses clips from Hollywood movies without permission from the copyright holder in order to put them under scrutiny for purposes of comment and critique. At the very core of the fair use doctrine, (comment and critique safeguard freedom of expression), the creator implicitly comments on the tropes found in mainstream narratives by recontextualizing them in the stories of real African men in an effort to draw attention to the harmful stereotypes African men battle daily. 

Source Material: 
Casino Royale
Tears of the Sun
Lord of war
Hotel Rwanda
Blood Diamond
Black Hawk Down

Did you know that I blog about fair use and remix at American University’s Center for Social Media? They are the brains behind the Best Practices doctrines for Fair Use, Documentary and Media Literacies. You can see the original post here.

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