In “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators”
the author explains how different groups are catered to in different amounts
when it comes to film. White men are the most catered to while black women are
the least catered to. This means that the kinds of films being made are aimed
towards mostly white, male audiences. The film “Daughters of the Dust” however,
turns this norm on its head. A majority of the main characters black women who
are not reduced to objects. The black female characters have depth, and unique
personalities and traits. Each of them have their own story in the film, making
each character feel crucial to the plot as a whole. The film focuses heavily on
the heritage of the family, and the scars that come with it. It is major
influence on each woman’s personality. Some want to hold on to their history
and honor tradition, while others see it as a painful past something to move on
from. Not only does the movie feature black women, it centers the entire story
around their way of life on that island, and the values the family holds dear.
In “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators”, Bell Hooks discusses the disregard for the portrayal of the unique cultural perspective of African american women in cinema. Such a cultural perspective is granted a film, however, in Daughters of the Dust. This piece explores the experience of feeling disconnected from one’s ancestors despite being connected by blood. In one especially memorable scene, the family is undergoing a ceremony with an elder before they depart. While some members of the family are reminded of the everlasting connection to family which lies in tradition, others scorn the practice as misguided. At its core, this scene is exploring the essence of what Bell Hooks is discussing. These young Black females can either embrace there heritage and move forward carrying it with them; or they can reject this past in favor of a new culture. Given the poor representation of this demographic in all forms of media, it is understandable that rejection of culture is presented as an option. Ultimately, the narrative of the film is one in support of maintaining cultural tradition in spite of the difficulties faced as a result.
In Bell Hooks’s essay, “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators,” she discusses how black women are portrayed in films, focusing on gazing. Black women gazing has been overpowered by white males, specially. Daughters of the Dust tries to go against this idea of black women being overpowered by gazing. The main characters in this film are all black women, and the majority of the characters in general are also black women. These women are not being overpowered, they are the focus of the film. In addition, they follow their African traditions. The are strong women who stand up for what they believe in. For example, when Eula expresses her frustrated opinion regarding the family moving to the mainland. Eula standing up to her family to show her frustration, shows that she is a strong, passionate woman when it comes to her family, and she is not being dominated by anything else in that scene.