By Leonard Unger, Jay Parini
This complement provides 18 acclaimed writers, together with Jim Harrison, Alfred Kazin, Bobbi Ann Mason, Thomas Merton, Gary Snyder and others.
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They are enthralled with the media: they watch MTV, listen to Geraldo Rivera and Jay Leno, and read Cosmopolitan, Time, and Rolling Stone; episodes of Cheers, Night Court, and ER are the highlight of their week. Against the background of media-driven society and contemporary consumerism, Barthelme creates characters who need fulfillment and enrichment in their lives. Often they long for the intangible, a sensation or feeling they cannot define for themselves and are unable to articulate to others.
According to Bambara, Dash’s work highlights the impact of sexist representations on women’s efforts to be self-validating. Dash’s films offer an alternative to the connection between sexism and racism. In her work, space is shared, rather than dominated; the spiritual and the religious community, fostered by a sense of family, combats the threat of lynch-mob violence. In this ethos of cultural resistance, family members are not victims accountable to their employers but powerful sources of social change, whose responsibility it is to acknowledge the legacy of their ancestors.
According to this approach, the “system” is invincible, and “the only triumph possible is in a throw-down” with minor Mafia figures and crooked cops. In these films, black neighborhoods are portrayed as occupied territory, black families are subject to liberation by whites, and women’s sexuality is yoked to capitalistic exploitation. It is a discourse that “dichotomizes culture and politics” and defines resistance as male led. In films of the dominating cinema, Bambara argues, social injustice and supremacist doctrines and policies are minimized as personal conflicts resolved not by cultural revolution but by shootouts, savvy cops, and fistfights.
American Writers: Supplement by Leonard Unger, Jay Parini