I don’t really have much to add to this American Gangster inspired article about the evolution of the black villians in the film industry. But it is:
A) Well written and interesting
B) About American Gangster
C) From the American Prospect …the best magazine you’ve never heard of. So read and enjoy. Here’s an excerpt:
But Gangster is more than a critical and commercial success. It’s a sign of an important progression in American cinema. There is, of course, nothing new about gangster movies with Oscar aspirations. But a gangster film starring an emotionally complex, flawed but redeemable, African American character? That’s almost unheard of. By taking on such a role, Washington is reinventing the conventional villain, and the black villain in particular. The traditional one — wide-eyed, wild, and inherently evil — is so common in American cinema that he’s hard to ignore, yet he’s rarely recognized as part and parcel of what got the medium itself off the ground. In fact, just about every black actor has played such a villain (with the notable exceptions of Washington and his forebear, Sidney Poitier). And the back story to this stereotypical character offers a rare opportunity to reveal a long list of forgotten movie history.