Hollywood and Gentrification: Artists’ and Filmmakers’ Depictions of Racism Taking Place

Authors: Russell Stockard*, California Lutheran University
Topics: Ethnicity and Race, Communication, Ethnic Geography
Keywords: gentrification, race, films, video. urban geography, communication geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 6:20 PM
Room: Napoleon D3, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Gentrification appears to have emerged in film and video discourse overtly in John Singleton’s Boyz ‘N the Hood (1991). Furious Styles explains gentrification to his teen charges and explains that a solution is to recirculate money within the Black community.  Spike Lee also addresses the semiotics of gentrification as black residents confront a white newcomer wearing a Boston Celtics jersey with white superstar Larry Bird’s number in Do the Right Thing (1989).
In these two examples, gentrification is framed as culture and economic clashes that occur among old and new residents of transitioning neighborhoods.  This is a study of film and video discourse on gentrification, drawn from both fiction and documentary films, Web series, and other creative products that seek to dramatize, satirize or analyze the phenomena associated with gentrification.  The emphasis is on creative expression and commentary by filmmakers, including director, Spike Lee, as they examine neighborhood transition primarily, but not exclusively, in Los Angeles and New York, cities affected by the neoliberal project of late capitalism.  While the emphasis will be on cinematic discourse about black and Latino spatialization in these two metro areas, other examples will be treated.
What kinds of rhetorical strategies are presented in these films?  What kinds of semiotic analysis are presented in these texts? How do these films represent and amplify voices of protest? What is the role of the arts in the gentrification phenomenon?

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