“Dimensions in Black: Perspectives on Black Film and Media.” The live launch of FQ 71.2 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on December 5, 2017. This event featured the dossier authors and editor in conversation with each other and the audience.
Dimensions in Black:
Perspectives on Black Film and Media
Naeem Mohaiemen at documenta 14
Updating the Female Gaze
in I Love Dick, Glow, Insecure
Bologna, Locarno, and Toronto
To many men and women of color, as well as many white women, meaningful diversity occurs when the actual presence of different-looking bodies appear on screen. For them, this diversity serves as an indicator of progress as well as an aspirational frame for younger generations who are told that the visual signifiers they can identify with carry a great amount of symbolic weight. As a consequence, the degree of diversity became synonymous with the quantity of difference rather than with the dimensionality of those performances. Moreover, a paradoxical condition emerges whereby people of color have become more media savvy yet are still, if not more, reliant on overdetermined and overly reductive notions of so-called “positive” and “negative” representation. Such measures yield a set of dueling consequences: first, that any representation that includes a person of color is automatically a sign of success and progress; second, that such paltry gains generate an easy workaround for the executive suites whereby hiring racially diverse actors becomes an easy substitute for developing new complex characters. The results of such choices can feel—in an affective sense—artificial, or more to the point, like plastic.
This special dossier for Film Quarterly comprises a selection of essays that share the central idea that the work ahead for scholars in the current moment must be to appreciate what has been an ever-increasing complication of the idea of black film and media over the last ten years. This dossier considers significant trends, film and media objects, and clusters of work related to issues of blackness and questions of aesthetics, historiography, industrial practice, collectivity, politics, and culture. It is compelled by a shared belief that requires scholars to remain open to contemporary and future enactments while at the same time recognizing the momentum of the past.
Editor in Chief, B. Ruby Rich, weighs in on the latest in film and media culture. She recaps the recent Visible Evidence conference that took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina; reviews the content of the current issue, and introduces the important dossier on black film and media.
Filmmaker and critic Caroline Golum weighs in on and takes issue with the recent New York Post op-ed on the moviegoing habits of Millennials.
Editor B. Ruby Rich weighs in on the latest issue of FQ, new revivals in a time of duress, trends in distribution, FQ’s approach to watching, writing, thinking about cinema and media in a time of ongoing political repression, and more.
To judge by the critical enthusiasm with which the second season of Amazon Prime’s Transparent (2014–) series has been embraced, Jill Soloway not only has a big trans-affirmative hit on her hands but has succeeded in stimulating a lively conversation about queerness, trans politics, and television representation within the broader society.
FQ Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich’s roundup of the Summer 2016 issue: Volume 69, Number 4. Rich recalls the early years of university-level film history courses, assesses the barrage of industry news that lands on her desk daily, and pays homage to Richard Dyer, who was honored by the Society for Cinema and Media Studies at their annual conference. Dyer’s first published monograph, GAYS AND FILM (1977), came into the world in a vacuum. There was simply no such field. Today, it is difficult to comprehend the force of imagination and courage required to launch such a career at such a time. Forty years ago, a grand ballroom would not have filled with people and applause for a gay scholar; today, it was unremarkable that one did.
FQ Editor-in-Chief B. Ruby Rich and guest issue editor Natalia Brizuela introduce FQ’s dossier on the work of Brazilian filmmaker Eduardo Coutinho, who died unexpectedly in 2014. Eduardo Coutinho, the greatest documentary filmmaker in the last half-century of Brazilian cinema, is woefully underrecognized in the United States and has not been adequately incorporated into the global history of documentary cinema. This dossier aims to open up conversations about the work of Coutinho in Anglophone cinema studies, and to encourage more scholarship on the subject.