In “Black Spectatorship: Problems of Identification and Resistance,” noted Malian film theorist Manthia Diawara notes, “Whenever Blacks are represented in Hollywood, and sometimes when Hollywood omits Blacks from its films altogether, there are spectators who denounce the result and refuse to suspend their disbelief” (211). Diawara suggests that, to some degree, the terms resisting spectator and black spectator are interchangeable, for many African American filmgoers long have had to resist and negotiate with the ways in which they historically have been represented on the silver screen.
While Diawara is primarily speaking of African American filmgoers’ resistance to the ways in which African Americans are represented in film, he acknowledges that resistant spectatorship is not the sole province of African American filmgoers. Furthermore, one can certainly understand how this form of spectatorship can and should extend to other forms of popular culture. Indeed, as cultural theorist Stuart Hall writes in “What Is This ‘Black’ in Black Popular Culture?”, ““[P]opular culture, commodified and stereotyped as it often is, is not at all, as we sometimes think of it, the arena where we find who we really are, the truth of our experience” (132). Therefore, as consumers, we should constantly analyze and critique popular culture.
As such, the goal of Resisting Spectator is to do just that: offer critical analyses of popular culture. By “critical analyses,” I am not offering criticism for criticism’s sake but rather as means in which to investigate and analyze the ways in which race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and other aspects of our society are represented in popular culture.