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Rodney King in MALCOLM X & DARK BLUE (Video Essay)

Rodney King

A video essay that compares the use of the Rodney King beating tape in the films Malcolm X (Spike Lee, 1992) and Dark Blue (Ron Shelton, 2002).

The essay explores how these two films differ in their inclusion of the tape of the attack and what does mean for their representations of race in America, the representation of racial violence, and the cinematic history of representing black bodies.

Essay written by Elysse Leonard, edited by Christopher Heron, sound recording by Brian Robertson, and narrated by John Cohen.

This video essay was first published in August of 2012.

Works Cited

Alexander, Elizabeth. “”Can You Be BLACK and Look at This?” Reading the Rodney King Video(s).” Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art. Ed. Thelma Golden. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1994. 91-110. Print.

Boyd, Todd. “Popular Culture and Political Empowerment: the Americanization and Death of Malcolm X.” Cineaste Fall 1992. Web.

Butler, Judith. “Endangered/Endangering: Schematic Racism and White Paranoia.” Reading Rodney King: Reading Urban Uprising. Ed. Robert Gooding-Williams. New York: Routledge, 1993. 15-22. Print.

Everett, Anna. “”Spike, Don’t Mess Malcolm Up”: Courting Controversy and Control in Malcolm X.” The Spike Lee Reader. Ed. Paula J. Massood. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2008. 91-114. Print.

Hunter, Stephen. “A Cop on the Verge: In ‘Dark Blue,’ A Too-Macho Tale Is Handcuffed by a Weak Ending.” The Washington Post. 21 Feb. 2003. Web. 24 Apr. 2011.

“Interview: Ron Shelton, Director of “Dark Blue”” Interview by Ethan Aames. Cinema Confidential. 17 Feb. 2003. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.

Nichols, Bill. Blurred Boundaries: Questions of Meaning in Contemporary Culture. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1994. Print.

“Our Film Is Only a Starting Point: An Interview with Spike Lee.” Spike Lee: Interviews. Ed. Cynthia Fuchs. Jackson: University of Mississippi, 2002. 65-78. Print.

The Rodney King Case: What the Jury Saw in California v. Powell. Courtroom Television Network, 1992. Videocassette.

Stevens, Maurice E. “Subject to Countermemory: Disavowal and Black Manhood in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X.” Fight the Power!: the Spike Lee Reader. Ed. Janice D. Hamlet and Robin R. M. Coleman. New York: Lang, 2009. 321-41. Print.

Tomasulo, Frank P. “”I’ll See It When I Believe It”: Rodney King and the Prison-house of Video.” The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television and the Modern Event. Ed. Vivian Sobchack. London: Routledge, 1996. 69-90. Print.

White, Hayden. “The Modernist Event.” The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television and the Modern Event. Ed. Vivian Sobchack. London: Routledge, 1996. 17-38. Print.

Williams, Linda. Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2001. Print.

By The Seventh Art

The Seventh Art is a Toronto-based online magazine about cinema founded in 2012, with a focus on in-depth interviews with filmmakers.