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COLOR ADJUSTMENT: BLACKS IN PRIME TIME

USA, 1991 (MIFF 1992, Documentaries)

Director: Marlon T. Riggs

Provocative, engaging and scrupulously researched, Color Adjustment: Blacks In Prime Time is a film that examines the relation­ship between prime-time television and Ameri­ca's racial consciousness. Taking as dual points of departure the cautious optimism with which Blacks returned to civilian life after World War II and the concurrent birth of television, Mar­lon Riggs (Tongues Untied) demonstrates how prime time inherited stereotypical images of Blacks from radio, and proceeded to build from the start a white myth of the American dream that denied access to Blacks. Color Adjustment: Blacks In Prime Time punctuates a chronology of white-dominated television pro­grams featuring black characters with the rec­ollection of actresses, scholars and producers. With the civil rights movement the reality of race relations retrained television, and the ten­sion between the images of Blacks on the nightly news and their scarcity during prime-time became evident. Riggs carefully traces the attempts to redress the inequities up to the pre­sent, and reaches the unsettling conclusion that through four decades, television has accom­plished little to transcend its basically homoge­nized representation of reality.

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