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Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture


Location: Bartos Screening Room

Part of Changing the Picture, sponsored by Time Warner Inc.

A presentation by Racquel J. Gates, followed by a book signing 

From the antics of Flavor Flav on Flavor of Love to the brazen behavior of the women on Love & Hip Hop, so-called negative images of African Americans are a recurrent mainstay of contemporary American media representations. In Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture (2018, Duke Univ. Press), Racquel J. Gates examines the generative potential of such images, showing how some of the most disreputable representations of black people in popular media can strategically pose questions about blackness, black culture, and American society in ways that more respectable ones cannot.

Gates will present a film talk accompanied by film/TV clips exploring the ideas in her book. Rather than falling back on claims that negative portrayals hinder black progress, Gates will explore how reality shows such as Basketball Wives, comedians like Katt Williams, and movies like Coming to America play on “negative” images to take up questions of assimilation and upward mobility, provide a respite from the demands of respectability, and explore subversive ideas. Program duration approximately 90 mins.

A book signing for Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture will follow the screening and talk.

About the author/speaker: Racquel Gates is an Assistant Professor in the department of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island, CUNY. Her work focuses on representations of race in popular culture.

Tickets: $15 ($11 seniors and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / free for children under 3 and Museum members at the Film Lover and Kids Premium levels and above). Order tickets online(Members may contact [email protected] with any questions regarding online reservations.)

Ticket purchase includes Museum admission (Please note: Galleries close at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. See gallery hours). View the Museum’s ticketing policy here. For more information on membership and to join online, visit our membership page.