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Monday, 17 December 2012

Representation of Race in Moses Jones Extract

Moses Jones Representation of Race In the extract of ‘Moses Jones’, there is quite a complex representation of race. Where stereotypically white people would be presented as far superior to black people, there are quite a few exceptions within this. The technical codes shown help enforce this view. In the first scene, the mise-en-scène shows a group of black men, via a longshot, in a run down, urban environment. The fact that they are in the dark, under a bridge, suggests something sinister and dangerous is taking place, or is being discussed. The smashed up car they are standing around backs up this implication of crime. Also, the conversation that takes place hints at illegal immigration at one point, all of which is quite stereotypical to the black race. Sound also has some contribution to the representation, for example, the heavy Ugandan/Caribbean accents used seems to put them in a lower class of society, however, the diegetic traffic sounds such as car motors and horns puts them in the middle of a hectic, fast paced society. Camera angles also play a part, for example there are a few close ups used, a close up of the young black man, Joseph’s face, which is used to show contemplation and slight worry after his conversation with Solomon, who I believe Joseph sees as a form of role model, and a good citizen, which is quite contrary to the stereotypical black representation so far. Also, during Joseph and Solomon’s conversation, Solomon is viewed with low angle shots, putting him in a position of power over the high angle shots which Joseph is shown in, suggesting weakness, and giving Solomon an unspoken authority. I don’t really believe editing plays much of a significant part in the opening scene as the rest of the technical codes. The tube station is flooded with artificial light, but regardless of the safety light usually suggests, there is still an eerie, edgy atmosphere. It shows a black man cleaning the bathrooms, suggesting that he is the lowest of the low, cleaning up the mess that white people have left behind. White people are shown as extremely dismissive and disrespectful, because even as the black man is cleaning the toilets while wearing dirty clothing, a white, sharply dressed businessman comes along and urinates more or less where the black man is cleaning, which also hints at the stereotypical way in which society works, e.g. white people metaphorically urinate on black people. Again, the black man is viewed with a high angle medium shot against the low angle view of the white man, repeating the unspoken display of power within the society. Close ups are used to show the look of pure disgust on the black man’s face after the white man urinates and walks off. Eerie music is also used to suggest danger and discomfort. Editing doesn’t really have much of an impact in this scene either There is a strong contrast in mise-en-scène as the scene changes from the tube station to the police department. However, amidst the busy office setting, white people strongly outweigh black people once again. Moses Jones is the only black person you see in the scene. He walks behind the boss, who is a formally dressed, clean shaven white man, which contrasts with Moses’ casual, dishevelled, unshaven look, which could suggest stress, trouble at home, or it could hint at the fact that he is a maverick, who plays by his own rules and doesn’t necessarily conform. The fact he is walking behind his boss says that he is less important, whether that be because he is black or because he is of a lower rank in the police force. Again, whites are shown as quite ignorant, as the boss makes casually racist remarks such as “they’re your people” when discussing the Ugandan community. His expressions shown during close ups show that he isn’t necessarily affected by the remarks, but he does still acknowledge that they’re slightly offensive, with his looks of confusion and slight anguish. There isn’t any non-diegetic sound, only busy office sounds such as people talking, computers whirring and paper rustling. Once again, editing is not as significant in this scene as the rest of the technical codes. Finally, in the last scene of the extract, in the autopsy room, the artificial light once again floods the mise-en-scène with a sense of false security. The audience can almost smell the death in the room. This is confirmed as the body emerges from the cabinet, a large black man. This, again, puts black people in a position of weakness compared to the white people, who are still alive surrounding him. However, the white people in this scene contrast the white people throughout the rest of the extract, they aren’t ignorant, the fact that he is black doesn’t seem to affect their judgement in the slightest. “He’s clearly had more TLC dead than alive” suggests the white Coroner feels sympathy towards the dead man. Again, the camera angles put white people in a position of power, with the low angle shots, however, the body is shown with low angle shots at times, meaning it is of significance, and is still really quite powerful. As the body is pulled out of the cabinet, it almost rushes towards the camera, which is quite alarming to the audience, but will immediately draw their attention to it. In conclusion, the use of mise-en-scène and camera angles are the most significant technical codes used to show the contrast in society between black people and white people. Black people are shown as weak throughout the majority of it, or as suspicious, criminal or insignificant to society, where white people are shown as the leaders of society, the ones who do all of the hard work. For the most part, except the autopsy room, the representation of black people and white people is really quite stereotypical to modern day society.