Publication date:

26 August 2014

Length of book:

314 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442241299

The historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States had a significant impact on both America and the world at large. By voting an African American into the highest office, those who elected Obama did not necessarily look past race, but rather didn’t let race prevent them for casting their ballots in his favor. In addition to reflecting the changing political climate, Obama’s presidency also spurred a cultural shift, notably in music, television, and film.

Movies in the Age of Obama: The Era of Post-Racial and Neo-Racist Cinema, David Garrett Izzo presents a varied collection of essays that examine films produced since the 2008 election. The contributors to these essays comment on a number of films in which race and “otherness” are pivotal elements. In addition to discussing such films as Beasts of the Southern Wild, Black Dynamite, The Blind Side, The Butler, Django Unchained, The Help, and Invictus, this collection also includes essays that probe racial elements in The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games, and The Mist. The volume concludes with several essays that examine the 2013 Academy Award winner for best picture, 12 Years a Slave.

Though Obama’s election may have been the main impetus for a resurgence of black films, this development is a bit more complicated. Moviemakers have long responded to the changing times, so it is inevitable that the Obama presidency would spark an increase in films that comment, either subtly or overtly, on the current cultural climate. By looking at the issue these films address,
Movies in the Age of Obama will be of value to film scholars, of course, but also to those interested in other disciplines, including history, politics, and cultural studies.
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 as the US's first African American president was a remarkable historic event. In the euphoria of the moment certain pundits imagined that the US had entered a postracial age, and racism was over. The deaths of Oscar Grant and Trayvon Martin soon shattered the myth of a new golden age in race relations. The films that have emerged in the supposed postracial 'age of Obama' show that the US is still haunted by the ghost of racism, and that the land is troubled by issues of class and corporate excess. It is profoundly ironic that in an era that imagines we have transcended race the film industry produced Django, 12 Years aSlave, The Help, The Butler, and Fruitvale Station. Popular discontent with the great recession and the concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1 percent is reflected in futuristic films such as TheHunger Games. Rebellion against tyranny can be inferred in the success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Izzo has put together a superb, compelling collection of film criticism. A tour de force. Summing Up: Essential. All readers.