How did the Neoabolitionism in flims like Band of Angels and Mandingo impact the perception of "The South?"

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Kirby's point in bringing out the Neoabolitionist content ofBand ofAngelsandMandingowas to suggest that there was a politicization of content that desired to embed a perception of the South that was easy to keep in the minds of Northern viewers.  Such a politicization removes any intricacy and complexity of the South, reducing its perception fo a cultural stereotype that makes it easy to fulfill in Northern viewers and the producers who financially benefit from it.  In both films, there is a Neoabolitionist view of slavery, a resurrection of the slavery issue in order to keep it in the minds of the public who are simultaneously immersed in the Civil Rights Discourse of the 1950s.  In seeking to bring back the issue of slavery through these films and hoping to resurrect the anger associated with the topic and merge it with the anger in the Civil Rights Movement, Neoabolitionism accomplished both this goal and the deadening of imagination about the South.  Southern slavery was depicted in the most reductive manner possible, seeking to link it to the then- current climate of Southern segregation.  The notion here is that Southern racism is an embedded part of the culture.  Interestingly enough, this Neoabolitionism sought to create the issue of slavery and racism as one in which only the South seems to be the perpetrator.  Works like Band of Angels and Mandingo focused their animosity on the South and there was not a substantive discussion of how racism existed on all levels, including that of the North.  It is here where Kirby's point is that Neoabolitionism sought to reduce the Southern culture to a caricature that was easily grasped and refused to do much else regarding the issue of racism and discrimination that was all over the nation at the time.


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