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Movies Change Lives

Pedagogy of Constructive Humanistic Transformation Through Cinema

Series:

Tony Kashani

Movies Change Lives is a rigorous interdisciplinary examination of cinema as a vehicle for personal and social transformation. Interdisciplinary scholar Tony Kashani builds a theory of humanistic transformation by discussing many movies while engaging the works of philosopher/psychologist Erich Fromm, cultural studies theorist Stuart Hall, critical pedagogy theorist Henry Giroux, political philosopher Hannah Arendt, the great French thinker Edgar Morin, the pioneering psychologist Carl Jung, the co-founder of string theory, physicist Michio Kaku, and Frankfurt School philosopher Jürgen Habermas, among others. The book argues that in the globalized world of the twenty-first century, humanity is in dire need of personal and social transformation. Movies have universal appeal and can deeply affect their audiences in a short time. Coupled with critical pedagogy, they can become tools of personal and social transformation. Movies Change Lives is an ideal text for graduate and upper-division undergraduate courses on film (cinema) and society, visual culture, consciousness studies, transformative studies, media and social change, advanced personal and social psychology, and political philosophy.

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3. Ten movies

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· 3 · ten movies Although in the first two chapters I discussed many substantive films with potential for constructive humanistic transformation, both on the personal and social level, I have chosen ten specific films to discuss in detail to con- textualize these theoretical arguments. My main objective here is to try and convince you (the reader) to consider deep engagement with “transformative” cinema. There are, of course, hundreds if not thousands of movies that merit deep discussion in terms of their transformative elements, and many thou- sands more will be made in the future. Alas, one book can cover only so much space. Mississippi Masala How often do we encounter a cinematic moment where a black man confronts the “white consciousness” of an Indian/African man? In a powerful scene from Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala (1991), Demetrius, played by African American actor Denzel Washington, has a confrontational dialogue with Jay, played by Indian actor Roshan Seth. Jay is talking about his struggles in Uganda where he was born and raised as an African, but he was considered an Indian. After 34 years of living as an African first, Indian second, Jay is forced out of his 74 movies change lives home, because he is told, “Africa is for Africans, Black Africans.” He has struggled and now, in America, his daughter is becoming “American.” He believes if she gets involved with a Black man, it would mean that she would struggle to be “home” all her life. Demetrius counters this argument by telling...

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