Archetypes In American Culture

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According to Eric Lott (Love and Theft: The Racial Unconscious of Blackface Minstrels), blackface both in minstrel show and later in movies “spread misconceptions and stereotypes, and was used as a tool to define what constituted ‘blackness’”. One of the impact of The Birth of a Nation was the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. Those stereotypes were composed of a negative portrayal of African-Americans, represented as “idiotic, classless, child-like, unsophisticated, ignorant, violent, sexually aggressive, depraved and morally bankrupt characters” (The impact of negative stereotypes and representations of African-American in the media and African-American incarceration, by Tamara Thérèse Johson) and archetypes popular in the days of slavery and of the minstrel show became even more popular with the new medium of cinema that spread those visions to a larger audience (beginning right in the early 1900's). Donald Bogle describes five archetypes usually used to depict African-American characters, legacy of blackface and minstrel shows, in films. These archetypes consisted of the…show more content…
The purpose of the Coon was to make the white audiences laugh, being a source of humour and amusement. There was three categories of it: The pure Coon, most degrading stereotype in which African-Americans were represented as good for nothing, lazy, eating watermelons, stealing chickens, unintelligent and dull witted, describes Bogle. The second category was the pickaninny, the first coon to make it to movies. He or she was a African-American children considered as cute and loving, but as dense as the pure coon. They were easily recognizable with “eyes popped, whose hair stood on end with the least excitement, and whose antics were pleasant and diverting” (Bogle). The third category of Coon was “Uncle Remus”, similar to the Tom. He was as the other coons, unintelligent and naive, but very content with his situation and status as a
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