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Scooby-doo : McAlister Replies (fwd)

From: Elizabeth McAlister <emcalister@mail.wesleyan.edu>

I just got back from a conference in Miami on Yoruba religions.  (Laennec
Hurbon and Karen McCarthy Brown gave excellent presentations) The
presentation I gave was on negative images--the demonization, even--of
African-based religions in Hollywood.  The images on Scooby-Doo and other
cartoons and tv shows are not accidental, they are repetitions of earlier
negative images reaching all the way back to colonization.  There is much
to say about these negative portrayals:  they are racist, they mix and
match diverse African traditions, fantasy and fact and they usually link
people of African descent with non-rational thought, contagion or crime.

The most recent outrage is a tv ad by McAfee.com depicing a fake
African/Voodoo ceremony done to help fix a computer.  The fake Baron Samdi
character is a rip-off from the fake Baron Samdi in the James Bond film
"Live and Let Die."  The ad is very quick and manages to show fire,
chickens, fake rhythms, and a blown "white powder."

Given what immense pressure it took just to get one line clipped from
"Stella Got her Groove Back" (and in the end it was probably Wycleff's
business threat, to pull his song from the soundtrack) the problem of how
to make these images unacceptable is enormous.  I agree that many filmakers
do not know what harm they do.  But the images are tremendously harmful.
They amount to a "cultural terrorism" that shows groups of color their
subordinate place in US society.  They also provide  "deep background" that
justifies white supremecy for white groups.

If anybody would like a copy of my presentation on the matter, send me an
email and I'd be glad to send it out by email.  Unfortunately I can't send
everybody the accompanying video clips but you can rent the movies if you
are really interested.

Liza McAlister

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Elizabeth McAlister
Assistant Professor
Department of Religion
Wesleyan University
Middletown, CT  06459-0029
Tel:  (860) 685-2289
Fax:  (860) 685-2821
Email:  <EMcAlister@wesleyan.edu>