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Hold It Real Still

Clint Eastwood, Race, and the Cinema of the American West

Lawrence P. Jackson

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How did the American western feature film genre rebrand itself in the late seventies and respond to the fury of global and domestic political affairs?

In Hold It Real Still, Lawrence Jackson examines Clint Eastwood's influence on the western film while also exploring how that genre continues to operate into the twenty-first century as an ideological channel for ideas about race and imperialism. Jackson argues that the western genre pivoted from an initial doctrine of racial liberalism, albeit a clumsy one, during the John Wayne years to a motile agenda of substitution, exclusion, and false…

How did the American western feature film genre rebrand itself in the late seventies and respond to the fury of global and domestic political affairs?

In Hold It Real Still, Lawrence Jackson examines Clint Eastwood's influence on the western film while also exploring how that genre continues to operate into the twenty-first century as an ideological channel for ideas about race and imperialism. Jackson argues that the western genre pivoted from an initial doctrine of racial liberalism, albeit a clumsy one, during the John Wayne years to a motile agenda of substitution, exclusion, and false equivalency during the Clint Eastwood period. The book traces how Eastwood, an actor first associated with the avant-garde, anti-colonialist discourse of "spaghetti" western cinema, reversed himself in the second half of the 1970s with The Outlaw Josey Wales—a film that had at its heart the fantasy of Black erasure from American life. Jackson situates Eastwood's work as a response to massive social and political upheavals in America: defeat in Vietnam, riots in northern cities, the civil rights movement and associated legislation, and the Great Migration, which made possible a degree of mixed-race public interaction that was impossible even as late as the 1960s.

Hinged by a close reading of four blockbuster films which continue to shape discourses in cinematic arts, American liberalism, the westerns, and race relations today—The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Josey Wales, Ride with the Devil, and Django Unchained—Jackson's unique critique flashes on the contradictory symbolic structures at work in these masterpieces. Juxtaposing the films' motifs, tropes, and hidden Black figures with historicist readings lays bare the containment strategies of the 1970s and beyond used to stymie civil rights progress and racial equity in the United States.

Tackling the rise of neoracism and the domestic apparatus of surveillance, control, and erasure, Hold It Real Still offers an astonishing revision of what audiences and critics thought they understood about a uniquely American genre of film.

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Lawrence P. Jackson

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Reviews

An intriguing and original exploration of the way 'Western' movies have influenced the discourses of race since the 1980s—and Clint Eastwood's central role as symbol and auteur in that conversation.

In his epochal book, The Indignant Generation, the eminent and exceedingly talented Lawrence P. Jackson established a new and unparalleled standard in the crowded field that is Black Literary Studies. In this, his latest book, he devotes his critical acuity and skillful writing style to Film Studies and—once more—provides sterling insight and brilliant panache.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
312
ISBN
9781421444130
Illustration Description
43 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter One. Black Representations in the Western
Chapter Two. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Critique of the Colonial Aftermath
Chapter Three. "That Damn War": The Outlaw Josey Wales an

Introduction
Chapter One. Black Representations in the Western
Chapter Two. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Critique of the Colonial Aftermath
Chapter Three. "That Damn War": The Outlaw Josey Wales and Reframing the Civil War
Chapter Four. "Hold It Real Still": Black Containment and Structures of Inequality in The Outlaw Josey Wales
Chapter Five. "Their Slaves, If Any They Have, Are Hereby Declared Free Men": Ride with the Devil and the Contraband as Decorative Adjunct
Chapter Six. "I Am That One in Ten Thousand": Django Unchained and the Black Exceptional State
Chapter Seven. "Why Don't They Kill Us?" Django Unchained and the Politics of Deadly Force
Conclusion. The Return of the Native
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Author Bio
Lawrence P. Jackson
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Lawrence P. Jackson

Lawrence P. Jackson (BALTIMORE, MD) is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of English and History at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Chester B. Himes: A Biography and Shelter: A Black Tale of Homeland, Baltimore.