West Los Angeles College Critique Ideological Reasoning in A Film Text Paper

Learning Outcome: Ability to identify and critique ideological reasoning in a film text.

What to ask when reviewing a film critically:

One place we absorb the myths of our culture, or the “shadows on the wall,” is at the movies. Popular culture is rife with stories about what matters, what makes life meaningful, and what it means to be a success in the world today.

The term “motivated representations” was coined by prolific author, professor, feminist, and social activist, Gloria Jean Watkins (1952 – present), better known by her pen name bell hooks.

In a world of motivated representations, critical thinking is a way to protect yourself from biased influences, by detecting ideological content in popular media.

WATCH: (9:23 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLMVqnyTo_0

Or read the transcript: https://www.mediaed.org/transcripts/Bell-Hooks-Transcript.pdf (Links to an external site.)

REFLECT: What perspective does bell hooks bring when watching a film critically?


Instructions: Watch the film and write a film review essay in which you identify and critique ideological reasoning at work in the selected film text, Black Panther. Words: 700 – 800 words.

  1. Begin with the questions:
    • What is motivating, and motivated by, the representations at work in the film?
    • Does the film text support or challenge “white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy”
  2. State your thesis: For example, “Black Panther [is or is not] an ideological tool promoting ruling class interests,” and say which interests, perhaps using bell hooks’ framework.
  3. Define terms. Explain how Marx’s criteria for assessing whether human interests or ruling class interests can be used to distinguish truth from ideology.
  4. Use a character [e.g. T’Challa or Killmonger] to support your argument.
  5. Apply Marx’s criteria to the example, explaining how the character representation serves either human or ruling class interests.
  6. Consider and reply to an interpretation of the example from the opposing side. [For example, if you argue that the depiction of Killmonger is ideological because it serves ruling class interests, then consider and reply to someone who might argue that the depiction of Killmonger is not ideological because it serves human interests.]
  7. Consider the ways cognitive biases reinforce ideological reasoning.
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