The Stereotypical Roles of Black Women In Hollywood Films

Throughout history black actresses in Hollywood films have been portrayed as being unappealing by playing the stereotypical roles of Mammies, the obedient servant, Jezebels, the young highly sexual women, or Sapphires, the evil, malicious, angry black woman.

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  1. The Mammy

  2. The Help: Stereotypes of Black Women in Early Film and Television
  3. The Mammy image was one of the most widely known images in commercial america, she was the black mother figure in white homes. She was characterized to care for her white family better than her own.The Mammy image was perceived as being a maternal, obese, non threatening, deeply religious,unattractive woman. Even though the mammy is well loved and has considerable authority with her white family, she still knows her place as a servant. The clip above summarizes the view of black women as the mammy in many different films.
  4. Louise Beavers in Imitation of Life (1934)
  5. Louise Beavers has appeared in over 160 films from the 1920's through the 1960's often as a mammy stereotype of a maid, servant, or housekeeper. Louise Beavers played the lead role of Deliah a black maid in imitation of life (1934). Even though she was giving the lead role not overshadowed by a white actor or actresses, she was still stereotyped playing a mammy role.
  6. In 1939, Hattie Mcdaniel (in the clip above) was the first black person to win an academy award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in Gone With The Wind (1939). A great actress, she was obviously capable of various roles but due to racial beliefs at that time movie studio executives labeled her career as a servant, nanny, or day worker.
  7. The Help Movie Clip "Put Momma in a Chair" Official (HD)
  8. In the 1960's when the Civil Rights Movement preceded the mammy images mostly disappeared until the film The Help (2011)  revived the the mammy image and the consequences of stereotypical roles of black woman. Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis Both won academy awards for their role as maids (in the clip above) just proving that the mammy is one of the stereotypical role that people like to see black women play.
  9. The Jezebel

  10. The Jezebel is another infamous stereotype of black women in Hollywood films. The Jezebel is a promiscuos female with a demanding sexual appetite. The jezebel image arouse as a justification for sexual relationship (mainly rape) between white men and black women in early Hollywood films. A more evolved image of the Jezebel today in movies is the "Bad Girl." She is a young black women who is rude, aggressive, a drug addict, and mainly prostituting in the streets. The Jezebel image also declares that young black women are unlovable and cannot be taken seriously. 
  11. In the blaxioplation film Foxy Brown (1974) black women were charaterized as sexual fiens as Pam Grier starred in the film as a sexually aggressive "Bad Girl." If You listen closely the language used to describe her is even sexualized.
  12. Monster's Ball (11/11) Movie CLIP - Can I Touch You? (2001) HD
  13. Halle Berry won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Monster's Ball (2001) and was the first African American women to win that award.  In this clip of the movie Monster Ball, Halle Berry is engaging in sexual activity with a Caucasian male.  A lot of emphasis in the clip is put on the sexual activity.  There is not much dialogue, but rather a lot of moaning which arises from the sexual activity taking place.
  14. The Sapphire

  15. The Sapphire stereotype is often characterized as rude, loud, malicious, stubborn, bitchy, emasculating women.The Sapphire image was commonly known as the "Angry Black Woman." She is an unhappy person, and channels her frustrations on by criticizing others especially African American men.  African American men are a prime target, but anyone who disrespects her is susceptible to her anger. The Sapphire Caricature is a harsh portrayal of African American women. It is also a social control mechanism that is implemented to punish black women for violating the societal norms of being passive, servile, non-threatening, and unseen.
  16. Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls - 3. "Follow My Instructions"
  17. In this clip Gabrielle Union plays the role of a beautiful black women but with such a nasty attitude, as she treats her driver who is a black male with no respect. As she critizces everything he does clearly taking her frustrations out on him. Gabrielle Union commonly plays the role of the bitter black woman in many of her movies.
  18. Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married - 2. "Angry Train"
  19. Tyler Perry commonly puts the sapphire characters in his films. Tasha Smith commonly plays the aggressive sapphire in Tyler Perry's movies. She is always angry, loud, and downgrading her husband. She not only aggressive to her husband but everyone around her as she explodes on the men behind her.
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