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Hip Hop in American Cinema

Melvin Donalson

Hip Hop in American Cinema examines the manner in which American feature films have served as the primary medium for mainstreaming hip hop culture into American society. With their glamorizing portrayals of graffiti writing, break dancing, rap music, clothing, and language, Hollywood movies have established hip hop as a desirable youth movement. This book demonstrates how Hollywood studios and producers have exploited the profitable connection among rappers, soundtracks, and mass audiences. Hip Hop in American Cinema offers valuable information for courses in film studies, popular culture, and American studies.
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1 Representin’ in the Beginnin’: The 1980s



Representin’ in the Beginnin’: The 1980s

In Breakin’ (1984), the energetic Turbo (Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers) represents hip-hop creativity as he flashes his dynamic break dancing skills.

More than any other medium, Hollywood movies introduced mainstream America to hip-hop culture in the 1980s. In particular, Hollywood seized upon the visual and aural dynamics of three expressions of the youth culture to showcase: graffiti writing, break dancing, and rapping. The presentation of hip-hop culture was not based upon an altruistic concern to reveal the environmental, economic, and social challenges of inner city communities, but was connected instead to a more basic goal—profits. Although urban background grit and grime often served as a realistic backdrop of hip-hoprelated films, the studio objectives remained linked to the commercial appeal of the exotic and foreign, rather than provoking and stirring social activism. ← 7 | 8 →

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