Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Bad Feminist: Book Discussion Series

Roxane Gay's Bad Feminist - March 2018 Library Book Discussion, sponsored by ISU Library's Committee on Diversity & Inclusion

About Media Depiction


Hattie McDaniels, from The Atlantic

- Hattie McDaniel, in her Oscar-winning role from Gone with the Wind; The New Republic

Gay's essays in the Race & Entertainment section of Bad Feminist clearly show her frustration at the stereotyped depictions and limited narratives utilized in many US feature films, past and present, that project false, limited, and highly problematic (mis)interpretations of African American lives and realities. She critiques some of these films as sheer "science fiction," and others for their depictions of gratuitous violence against Black women in particular.

Gay explains the negative impact such films have on her as follows:  

"Watching historical movies about the black experience (or white interpretations of the black experience) have become nearly impossible for the same reason I hope I never read another slave narrative. It's too much. It's too painful. Too frustrating and infuriating. The history is too recent and too close.

I watch movies like Rosewood or The Help and realize that if I had been born to different parents, at a different time, I too could have been picking cotton or raising a white woman's babies for less than minimum wage or enduring any number of intolerable circumstances far beyond my control.

More than that, though, I am troubled by how little has changed. I am troubled by how complacently we are willing to consume these often revisionist stories of this country's complex and painful racial history. History is important, but sometimes the past renders me hopeless and helpless."

-Roxane Gay, The Solace of Preparing Fried Foods...,
in Bad Feminist, p. 246, Harper Collins 2014 ed.


Media Depiction:  Definition & Readings


media depiction
  1. 1.
    "Media depictions or representations are the ways in which the media portrays particular groups, communities, experiences, ideas, or topics from a particular ideological or value perspective." 1  

    "Representation, in itself, refers to the construction in any medium of aspects of "reality" such as people, places, objects, events, cultural identities and other abstract concepts.  Such representations may be in speech or writing as well as still or moving pictures." 2 
    Sources:  Te Keti Ipurangi (1), and Media Representation, by David Chandler (2)

Readings & Films

A brief selection of many books analyzing media depiction of African Americans and blackness...

The following are mentioned and/or elaborate on themes mentioned in Gay's essays:

The following are mentioned in Gay's essays:

Fruitvale Station dvd cover Fruitvale Station, dir. by Ryan Coogler (2013)

True story of Oscar Grant, murdered in 2009 by Bay Area police. 
The film follows Oscar's last day, spent doing kindnesses for others and striving to survive.
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Díaz, and Octavia Spencer. 

DVD Available: DVD 006 691, Media Collection

  True story of Oscar Grant,.