Beware: Video Classics


This article originally appeared in Issue# 38

The video revolution is a two-edged sword when it comes to film portrayals of minorities.

On one hand, many classic films, such as Birth of a Nation, are now available for inexpensive rental or even purchase. But unfortunately, their splendor is marred by concepts and characterizations that we see today as blatant racism. Now that films like the Charlie Chan series, Amos and Andy and others have emerged from industry archives to appear in your living room, questions arise on how to deal with their biased portrayals.

First of all, if you rent such films, be aware that you're taking home stereotypes that would never pass today.

Secondly, a reasoned analysis and conscious critique can help your family as well as a youth group, class or study group expose and expel biases while still appreciating the artistry of early cinema.