Oliver Parkers Vision of Othello

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Pages 8 (2008 words)
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In an era when many popular icons of entertainment and athletics proudly claim mixed ethnic backgrounds, it is at times hard to understand why race remains such a powerful issue. However, the most superficial of all of our differences as people - the color of our exterior - remains one of the most problematic differences.


As one might expect, these tensions are often portrayed in the visual media, such as photography, advertising, television, and film. One African-American actor perhaps best known for his role as B.A. Baracus in The A-Team, Mr. T., was always seen almost burdened down by his golden chains, and always submissive to his European-American leader, Hannibal Smith. This image of the African-American male as a caged animal struck a chord among cultural analysts at the time, who saw the stereotype as harmful.
Representation of characters of different races in what might be termed stereotypical situations, costumes, or patterns of behavior is not limited to modern American media, however. The 1995 film version of Othello, directed by Oliver Parker, is one attempt to take a story almost 400 years old and make it applicable to modern audiences. The original play was written by William Shakespeare in the early 1600's, and Shakespeare's England was also a culture that had its own peculiar notions of what it meant to be black, or African. As early as 1596, in fact, Queen Elizabeth I was known to complain about the large numbers of black people in England. It was the color itself that gave the English pause: as Winthrop Jordan notes, "in Englandthe concept of blackness was loaded with intense meaning. ...
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