1st Edition

Racial Spectacles Explorations in Media, Race, and Justice

By Jonathan Markovitz Copyright 2011
    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    240 Pages
    by Routledge

    Racial Spectacles: Explorations in Media, Race, and Justice examines the crucial role the media has played in circulating and shaping national dialogues about race through representations of crime and racialized violence. Jonathan Markovitz argues that mass media "racial spectacles" often work to shore up racist stereotypes, but that they also provide opportunities to challenge prevalent conceptions of race, and can be seized upon as vehicles for social protest. This book explores a series of mass media spectacles revolving around the news, prime-time television, Hollywood cinema, and the internet that have either relied upon, reconfigured, or helped to construct collective memories of race, crime, and (in)justice. The case studies explored include the Scottsboro interracial rape case of the 1930s, the Kobe Bryant rape case, the Los Angeles Police Department’s "Rampart scandal," the Abu Ghraib photographs, and a series of racist incidents at the University of California. 

    This book will prove to be important not only for courses on race and media, but also for any reader interested in issues of the media's role in social justice.

    Introduction  1. "Exploding the Myth of the Black Rapist": Collective Memory and the Scottsboro Nine  2. Anatomy of a Spectacle: Race, Gender, and Memory in the Kobe Bryant Rape Case  3. Framing Police Corruption: The LAPD Rampart Scandal in the News  4. Reel Bad Cops: Hollywood’s Appropriation of the Rampart Scandal  5. Racial Spectacles under an Anti-Racist Gaze: New Media and Abu Ghraib  Conclusion: Lessons from a Campus Movement


    Jonathan Markovitz is a lecturer in the departments of Communication at the University of California, San Diego and at California State University, San Marcos. He received his PhD in Sociology from UCSD in 1999. He has published articles on race relations in the United States, collective memory, film, gender, and popular culture. He is the author of Legacies of Lynching: Racial Violence and Memory (University of Minnesota Press, 2004).

    "In this book some of our nation's most infamous racial spectacles explode into complex assemblages of meanings and counter-meanings. With dexterity and an eye for the overlooked, Markovitz traces the trajectories of testimony, examines the ephemera of media, and pieces together the ever changing fabric of collective memories - both black and white. The Scotsboro Nine, the Ramparts scandal, the Abu Ghraib photos - these are not singularities, nor even closed cases. Rather, they reverberate out of the past to shape and reshape our understanding of race and sense of justice." -Susan Willis, Duke University

    "Jonathan Markovitz judiciously examines how spectacles of raced and sexualized violence permeate popular and political culture.
    Drawing on dramatic case studies from different eras, this compact and clearly argued book presents valuable insights about the "changing same" that shapes the racial imaginary of the U.S." -George Lipsitz, UCSB, author of How Racism Takes Place