Cover image for Representing : hip hop culture and the production of Black cinema
Representing : hip hop culture and the production of Black cinema
Watkins, S. Craig (Samuel Craig)
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xiv, 314 pages ; 23 pages

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.N4 W38 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In this engaging and provocative book, S. Craig Watkins examines two of the most important developments in the recent history of black cinema--the ascendancy of Spike Lee and the proliferation of "ghettocentric films." Representing explores a distinct contradiction in American society: at the same time that black youth have become the targets of a fierce racial backlash, their popular expressive cultures have become highly visible and commercially viable.

"Watkins is at his most sophisticated and persuasive when he explains the surprising success of hyper-talented, entrepreneurial, and energetic black artists."--Archon Fung, Boston Book Review

Author Notes

S. Craig Watkins is assistant professor of sociology, African American studies, and radio-television-film at the University of Texas, Austin

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Watkins's book represents the best and the worst of academic writing: it is thorough, scholarly, and bright and has 502 diligent footnotes and a 20-page bibliography; it also wildly mixes metaphors and is written in a slow, difficult style. The topic calls for an easier style. Watkins (sociology, Univ. of Texas) details the politics of black youth "culture," by which he means music, video, television, and, most of all, cinema (he says he will cover literature, but he does not). After some routine background warming-up (Reaganism, welfare mothers, drugs, poverty), he takes about 80 pages to get going. And then--pow!--he is wonderful. He explains blaxploitation films (1970-86); considers Spike Lee (Watkins is good on economics, aesthetics, race, and censorship and without overestimating Lee's importance he explains Lee's themes with unparalleled intelligence); and explores "ghetto pictures" (Boyz N the Hood and New Jack City). Here Watkins leaves aesthetics behind--rightly so, for artistry is swallowed up by hatred--and becomes a first-rate sociologist, commenting on images of masculinity, family life, crime, and unceasing problems of survival. In dissertation fashion, this pioneering study absorbs hundreds of sources; more importantly, it launches into both familiar and new areas with fresh insights. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. P. H. Stacy; emeritus, University of Hartford

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction: Black Youth at Century's Endp. 1
Part 1
1 Social Conservatism and the Culture Warsp. 17
2 Black Youth and the Ironies of Capitalismp. 50
3 Black Cinema and the Changing Landscape of Industrial Image Makingp. 77
Part 2
4 Producing the Spike Lee Jointp. 107
5 Spike's Jointp. 137
Part 3
6 Producing Ghetto Picturesp. 169
7 The Ghettocentric Imaginationp. 196
Epilogue: The Culture Industry and the Hip Hop Generationp. 232
Notesp. 245
Bibliographyp. 283
Indexp. 305