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Mississippi burnt-historys distorted remains

Uploaded by rafter on May 05, 2004

In his 1988 film Mississippi Burning, Director Alan Parker sets out to corner the audience into an awareness of the segregation and bigotry in America’s south during the 1960s. Ironically he attempts to achieve this by using cinematic methods that fall in line with exactly what his film’s central message is attacking; the ugly stereotyping of race and class. While the film’s message is as important in today’s society, where segregation of race and class still occurs, the use of blatant misrepresentations to develop, or rather manipulate, the emotions of the audience is distasteful not to mention arrogantly hypocritical.
Parker’s film roughly portrays the events surrounding the investigation into the 1964 disappearance of three young civil rights workers (two white, one black) in the Deep South; a time and place representing one of the ugliest periods in America’s history. But contrary to what you may believe, the film manages to depict Mississippi in the 1960s more unattractively than history itself suggests. Through its use of oversimplified, stereotypical representations of race and class, Mississippi Burning creates a dim image in the viewer’s mind; one that is ultimately more evident than the message the film was intended to expose. These representations so simple that according to the film only the southern hicks were racist, only the southern blacks were victims, only one class, the northern F.B.I agents, namely agents Ward (William Dafoe) and Anderson (Gene Hackman), could save them and they could only save them by using violence.

As is the case with many films that serve the purpose of entertaining audiences, Mississippi Burning develops an easy to understand and even easier to hate villain. From the film’s outset the audience is left vulnerable to the manipulated representation of the white Mississippian’s violent tendencies. Audiences are regularly presented with the image of lower-class, inbred and uneducated hicks from the south with an undying intolerance toward outsiders. Alan Parker fails to realise that his film’s depiction of southern characters is no less racist than how they are portrayed to be, not to mention how clichéd their portrayal is. What the film fails to suggest other than through a single character, Mrs. Pell (Frances McDormand), the wife of a Klan leader (Brad Dourif), is that while many Mississippians were full of hate and intolerance to outsiders, not all, and maybe not even the majority, were brainless , ignorant Klan people. If by twenty minutes...

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Uploaded by:   rafter

Date:   05/05/2004

Category:   American History

Length:   4 pages (941 words)

Views:   1395

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