Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present
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"Slavery’s brutality. The Violence that birthed a nation. Our own modern-day "birther' movement. Without question, Blacks, blackness and black identity is inextricably linked with horror. Means-Coleman plunders a natural, yet untapped source: the horror film. The result is a treasure trove of insight into how racial performance, racialized narratives, as well as challenges to prevailing racial discourse permeate American life. Means-Coleman builds her case for the historical and contemporary significance of horror films not only by astutely choosing the most exemplary among them, but by presenting her analysis in a vivid and powerful historical trajectory where 20th century media and 21st century technology set the stage for new debates about the future of race and Blackness in the global public sphere."-- Charlton McIlwain, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU
"This book is gold. I thought I was a horror head, but she goes so deep into it, just speaking my language. Everything she says I’m just like, 'Yes... that’s exactly what I always thought.' It’s so nice to find a scholarly book that addresses what your friends have been talking about for years and just breaks it down." -Tananarive Due, University of California, Los Angeles, in "How Get Out Inspired a New College Course on Racism and Horror"
About the Author
Robin R. Means Coleman is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and in the Center for AfroAmerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan. Her previous books include African Americans and the Black Situation Comedy: Situating Racial Humor and the edited collection Say It Loud! African Americans, Media and Identity, both published by Routledge, and most recently the co-edited volume Fight the Power! The Spike Lee Reader.
- Publisher : Routledge (June 20, 2011)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 296 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0415880203
- ISBN-13 : 978-0415880206
- Item Weight : 0.811 ounces
- Dimensions : 6 x 0.67 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #143,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Coleman, who's a professor in both the department of Communication Studies and Afroamerican and African Studies at University of Michigan Ann Arbor, spends time upfront drawing the distinction between Black horror films and Blacks in horror films (the former having a narrative focus that calls attention to racial identity, the latter being just what it sounds like), then does a brief overview of everything pre-1930s before launching into a more thorough and thematic decade-by-decade examination. Her writing as she offers a mix of history, biography, filmography, and analysis is straightforward and lucid, avoiding the worse of academese except in quotes she's pulled from other works.
The only issue I really had with Horror Noire was the author's very broad definition of what constituted "horror." While it's true that one woman's bedtime story is another woman's tale of creeping horror (I'm lookin' at you, Prince Too-Charming-To-Worry-About-Consent!) and that genre definitions are fluid, some of the films included, particularly the religious ones featured in the section on the 1940s, didn't fit the bill for me. Other than that, my only other disappointment was that Coleman didn't make use of what seemed like the world's most obvious jumping-off point, the opening scenes of Scream 2 where Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps (amid other deconstructions) debate the role of blacks in horror movies. But then, maybe it was too obvious?
Aside from those minor quibbles, Horror Noire is an educational and entertaining look at an under-examined genre through a cultural lens we should use more often. But fair warning - expect it to treble your Netflix queue.
Now I more than anybody appreciate the subject matter of this book, so it’s not the book itself I’m putting down but $42.00? Uh..no, as much as I would like to get this, I’ll have to pass.