African American Detective in Fiction, Essay Example
Understanding the Role of the African American Detective in Fiction
Femininity is regarded to be among the important elements used in several stories that are supposed to create a specific impact on how the society views the importance of gender role in specifically manifesting the relative worth of women in contrast with that of men. During the early 1960’s movies that were produced specifically make a specific indication on how important gender roles were especially in determining the real worth of men and women the like. It could be analyzed though that during the years mentioned, discrimination and racism are also among the most controversial issues that had a strong impact on what the society responds to especially when it comes to the imbalance of consideration over what men and women are actually capable of doing.
This imbalance could be most likely realized especially when it comes to the production of movies, African American detective movies in particular (Harris 288). Considerably, detective films ought to present men to have a great control of situations through strategy and intelligent wits. The capacity by which the detectives are expected to solve issues and even critical cases, is seen to have a great impact on the impression of the public towards the artists who are to be placed to portray their roles; which includes the perception that humans have over their background. When it comes to the presentation of African Americans as movie detectives, it could be noted that there always have to be the existence of particular elements that are considered as regular aspects of critical in the aspect of creating challenging points for the detectives. Among the said elements is the existence of femme fatale, a utilization of femininity in a manner that it affects the focus of the main characters so as to set challenge is effective considered as essentially important.
In the discussion that follows, a definition on how detective movies present African Americans [both men and women] shall be given attention to. In this discussion, a relative correlation on racism and feminism shall be established in parallel consideration of the role of men in most movies that represent African American race as a group of individuals exposing both their strengths and weaknesses as seen and perceived by the society which specifically affects social consideration and attention as well. From this point, the primary focus of the discussion is centred upon the desire of presenting elements such as femme fatale, discrimination and femininity at the same time as they are used to represent African American detective in movies in line with how they respond to the female characters that they are expected to react to.
The Presentation of African American Detectives
In most African American detective stories, women are perceived to have a great impact on how a black detective responds to the case. Somehow, the idealism of utilizing the principle of femme fatale insists on the change of attention of the detective from the case towards the woman. Not being specifically distracted because of sexual desires, but it is insisted in most stories that women have a natural form of characteristic that makes them specifically irresistible which at some point results to the loss of concentration of some of the male characters in a particular film. Femme fatale according to Norlisha Crawford is basically the process by which feminine charm is used to represent a consequential source of conflict. A woman who takes the part of a femme fatale in a film is required to be specifically attractive yet not flirty. The interesting factor that makes this character interesting is the character itself and nothing more. Among the most successful actresses who made such a debut in the film industries is that of Susan Hayward. Performing to be a strong yet beautiful woman, her roles often lead to commotion between two male actors hence causing conflict in the story that is usually not supposed to be the focal attention of the original course of the story.
Femme fatale often is introduced to impose extra tension on the overall creation of a story. In the movie In the heat of the Night, the character of Miss Dean was introduced. Perhaps to create a sense of distraction on the character definition of Mr Tibbs (the African American detective), but the plot was a failure since the character of Tibbs was more of a depiction of the opposite truth that binds African American detectives apart from what the society assumes. In this film, femme fatale was used more of a temptation and a tool to disprove a socially conditioned thought that African American detectives are less focused that they are actually expected to be.
Relatively, at the beginning of the introduction of Tibbs in the movie, it has already been established how he is being viewed by his co-detectives simply because of his colour and the assumptions they have towards black Americans prior to actually knowing who he really was. Understandably, the conflict almost began to spark when Tibbs was mistaken to be the murderer in the case being investigated simply because he was a black American. Likely, the idea being suggested insists that at some point, the other detectives handling the case before Tibbs did specifically believed that a “black man could have done it”. Without any prior evidences nor supporting facts to the matter, the other detectives depended on such an assumption. This is a common factor found in films regarding black American detectives who are trying to enter the realm of the “white world”. Considerably, this indicates a strong force of discrimination affecting the integrity of the commission that is supposed to handle the cases without bias.
Nevertheless, in line with redefining the reputation of black American detectives, the film continues to present Tibbs in a more refined manner, insisting that he is nothing that his co-detectives expected of him. In fact, his objectiveness in the case leads them to finding the right murderer and closing the case. Herein, it could be realized how the different options of showing human nature’s weakness have been used to make an implicative attention on how men from the African American race are viewed especially when it comes to serving as members of the organization in uniform. In relation to the film, Tibbs was presented to have been able to face the odds of being an African American officer in the middle of a white society who is judgmental of who he really is.
The same is true with the movie A Rage in Harlem which portrays a man longing for the love of his life back who he has lost to a series of misfortunes due to wrong decisions over illegal businesses that he wanted to embrace. Here, Imabelle is the object of focus for the main character as he takes different steps to make sure that he is able to get his woman back. Even at some point, Imabelle’s role was not thoroughly given much appearance in the movie, the essence of her presence intends to control how the story would progress in line with the plot that is being pursued. The involvement of two detectives in the movie even made the chase and the challenges to the main character harder to conceive with. Nevertheless, it was still the character of Imabelle that pushes the main character to move forward. Dealing with issues of poverty, social imbalance and wrong decisions, this movie presents Harlem [a well-known community of black Americans] as an area of desperation, a matter that specifically defines the need for hope and at least a source of illusionary source of success in the future which Imabelle intends to portray.
Introducing Femme Fatale
Femme fatale is described as the utilization of women and their characteristic of being as alluring and as attractive as they could be especially when it comes to the assumption of control over men (Harris, 2008, 289). It is a direct differentiation as to what women are expected to do or expected to practically affect men when it comes to their work and their perception over the things that they are supposed to complete. Notably, this is the reason why it is very important that the role of feminine characters be specifically considered especially when it comes to the creation of attitudinal differentiation between men and women (Mosley, 2002, 31). In the movie that has been cited in the earlier sections of this discussion, it could be observed how it was that masculinity has been affected by feminine power without even the existence of physical strength (Praz 199). Utilizing the aspect of physical strength which men are known for, feminine characters are noted to use their best aspects such as undeniable beauty accompanied with extensive flirting that is accomplished through a definitive process of strategy. Often defined under the course of deception, femininity is defined as fatal to the existence of the main characters in the fictional stories that are established behind the plots of most African American detective movies.
The Role of Femme Fatale in Detective Movies
Femme fatale is supposed to create a sense of confusion and chaotic situation in movies especially when it comes to the presentation of gender role competition between men and women. The characteristic of feminine beauty used against the masculinity of the main characters is often defined as the critical situation that often leads to the climax of the story that are used behind the presentation of African American detective movies.
Critics however considered that besides putting up a sense of challenge to the detectives is just one part of the role that is being played in the utilization of femme fatale in detective movies [especially those that are produced to present African American characters] (Mosley 45). Among the other elements that are suggested by the utilization of femme fatale as a theme in these movies is the ideal presentation of African American women based on how they are being viewed by the society. With an astounding beauty and an attitude towards sexually ignited emotions to get what they what they want, women become the central figure of attention (Praz, 1970, 199); an idea that correlates the definition of what women are expected to be especially when it comes to dealing with situations that involve their desire to become more than just a “doormat” that they are being noted for in the society during the time. Pretentious as they are, these women are expected to embrace any particular opportunity to redefine the manner by which they are being observed and accepted by the men they encounter in the story. Perhaps pointing out to physical beauty as a particular asset, the movies also utilize the same aspect to manifest women allure as a mere degradation to the real worth of African American women [or women as a whole] (Crawford 54). True, they are able to use their wits to make sure that they are being recognized by the men who exist alongside them. The way the men perceive these women, often defining them as objects of lust suggests a sense of prejudice against women in the society. It specifically notes how men view the value of women based on their physical attributes, a matter that is currently used to make an assumptive measure of the importance or at least the worth of a woman. This then indicates how gender-role issues are being given attention to when it comes to these particular genres of movies.
This characterization of men and women even exceeds to the idea of suggesting a sense of discrimination among African Americans as a whole. True, this definition stays strongly in tact even during today’s presentation of men and women from the African American society as they are portrayed in movies. Women in particular become an object of physical passion. Most often than not, unlike how white American women are presented in movies, the African American woman usually takes a lower status when it comes to being respected by men. While a white American woman is often defined as witty, beautiful and at some point “innocent” (Crawford 46), the African American women portraying a sense of femme fatale are noted to be directly sensual, assumingly sexual as they portray their roles as the source of confusion among the male character of the movies.
Norlisha Crawford specifically considers that femme fatale is more of a discriminative form of presenting both the value of femininity and the worth of the race from which the women they use in the portrayal belong to (56). Believably, it could be identified that women ought to take important part in the lives of the men they encounter. Giving them a rather vicious character hidden in a pretentious or most likely noted as a form of strategic approach makes women less worthy of respect but of fear and precaution.
At this point, the movies tend to suggest that even though women are physically weak, they are often stronger than what men think. They are creatures that are sure to bring down a man’s defences if he is not careful enough to know her games. Actresses given such a role are expected to take consideration of the fact that they have to portray the character based on direct strength and effectiveness when it comes to utilizing both their beauty and their intelligent and strategic approach to flirting that men are expected to fall for (Djikstra, 1988, 32). These actresses are then expected to put out the best that they could to make sure that the women they are portraying becomes pretty convincing (Turner, 1992, 2) in the course of bringing down the strengths of the men they are trying to get attention from.
As discussed in the research presentation noted herein, it could be realized that African American detective films do more than just define the story behind the fictional films created. They also create a sense of control as to how the society is supposed to envision the real worth of men and women in the society as well as spur out a sense of discrimination towards the attitude and characterization of African Americans as a whole. Femme fatale as used in defining the role of women specifically affects how the feminine population is represented based on their value and their real assets (Praz, 1970, 199). This in turn creates a relative impact as to how men are expected to react to such irresistible invites from women who are expected to utilize physical beauty just so to get the attention of those who they want to treacherously affect. Due to the reactive response of both these men and women pose when it comes to the presentation of the movie’s overall theme, African Americans as a whole and their characteristic are being stereotyped as merely shallow individuals who would go for physical passion in response to treacherous flirting, a matter that is often degrading to any particular type of race; a matter that is strongly suggested behind the indicative conditions suggested in the African American detective fiction films.
Crawford, Norlisha. (2006). Good, Bad and Beautiful. NWSA Journal Volume 18 number 2.
Djikstra, B. (1988). Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siï¿1/2cle Culture (Oxford Paperbacks). Oxford University Press, USA.
Harris, Mark. Pictures at a Revolution: Five Films and the Birth of a New Hollywood. Penguin Press, 2008, p. 288-90.
Praz, Mario (1970). The Romantic Agony. Oxford University Press: 199.
Praz, Mario (1970). The Romantic Agony. Oxford University Press: 199.
Mosley, Walter. (2002). White butterfly : an Easy Rawlins mystery. New York: Washington Square Press.
Turner, Miki. (1992). Collaborations. Black Film Review. Vol. 6 Issue 4, p2, 2p, 2 Black and White Photographs.
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