1) Movies that wrongfully depict Africans:
Recent Example: Lord of War (2004; Nicholas Cage)
-In the film, the only African characters are a corrupt leader who trades in arms with the equally corrupt main character. This isn't so bad because let's face it, Africa teems with corrupt leaders and officials.
-In the film, there are a few references to HIV/AIDS that left me very irritated by the end. The same African leader offers the main character (Nicholas Cage) African women (prostitutes?) in a (cordial?) gesture and of course, Nicholas Cage just had to ask if they had HIV when they were rubbing against him like hungry cats in heat.
-At the first reference, I was indifferent to b/c well, it is rampant in some parts of Africa, so it's just the truth. But by the second time (and I believe 3rd time), I was thoroughly irritated because 1. The reference was totally unnecessary and 2. I suspected an agenda because it's like 'yea dude, I got the point that African women are walking reservoirs of AIDS the first time you wrote it into your tacky and uninspiring movie, thank you.
-I was also irritated by the depiction of the women because it's rare that I see any African women in movies (who aren't dying of HIV, dying in childbirth, dying of hunger, or dying while in childbirth of HIV-related illness and complications caused by hunger...OR being saved by a paternalistic but of course well-intentioned and altruistic Western man--or more recently, Westerm woman)...So why is it that the first time in years I saw African women standing upright in a movie and looking healthy, they were prostituting themselves for a repugnant, hairy, hunchbacked, and rather beastly suit-wearing parody of a hollywood star?
(Wheew, it feels good to finally get this out)
Now, I would also argue that supposedly sympathetic movies such as the Constant Gardener are also negative portrayals but subtly so. Perhaps they are not negative in and of themselves but when taken as part of the general impression of Africans constantly presented in the media, they do their own share of damage. When will a movie come out that doesn't focus on the ills plaguing Africa? We have cultures--believe it or not--and those who aren't dying aren't just waiting to take their turn at dying. They are living! Oh and we've gotten some things right that the west could stand to learn from. Also, our history did not begin with slavery or the HIV epidemic. And when will we be shown as being capable of helping ourselves, as caring about ourselves (as a people not just one or two individuals thrown in as lackeys in so the foreigners doing God's work can shine)? I am quite sick of 'the altruistic foreign person goes to Africa to help the savages who either radiate a serene joy in the midst of their misery or are screeching with violent eagerness to rob/kill/rape.' Speaking of screeching and rob/kill/rape, add Tears of the Sun to the list of negative portrayals. I would prefer that no movies depict Africans or Africa than have more of the same crap exploiting us a human backdrop against which foreign superiority can be revealed.
2) Movies that rightfully depict Africans.
Um. Yea. I can't think of one apart from maybe Shaka Zulu which was made in the 80s...but you might not want to show that to your class because topless women abound so it might reinforce the stereotypes they probably almost certainly hold. I personally loved the movie and felt proud to see an epic miniseries pointing out the fact that African History beyond slavery exists and African Civilization is not an oxymoron. Anyway, I'm sure there are other wonderful movies out there, I just can't think of one right now.
3) Some common misconceptions attributed to me/Africa:
-unintelligent (the oldest one of all and very true if you ask your local eugenicist)
-naive (as unintelligent and raised to be subservient to men, in a backwards culture subservient to the west...so naturally, I need a well-intentioned person to take me under their wing and make sure evil-doers don't take advantage of my innate docility and simplicity)
-uncivilized (I go home and practice voodoo and won't relax my hair because it's the source of my dark ability to hex people)
-oppressed (as an African woman, I simply must have had my genitals mutilated at a young age by my razor-wielding savage of a mother in a heathen and bloody ritual...oh and any day now, my parents are going to sell me to a future husband of their choosing)
-noble savage (and here I thought this was the domain of Native Americans but yes, apparently we Africans also have a noble mystique when we're not chattering in our animalistic tongues)
-gentle (b/c of my low IQ and innate propensity to docility)
-greencard chasers (can't lie...there is some truth in this but I am a citizen, dammit!)
-intelligent overachievers (I guess b/c Africans are overrepresented in American education, some people think we are all academically inclined who are pushed by hungry family members back home to do well...oh wait, is this the truth?)
-HIV carriers ('Have you heard that the infection rate in the country of Africa exceeds 99%?' 'yes, I know--I heard on National Geographic that Africans will be extinct in 10 years')
-Hypersexual and chaste (we love sex which is why we're all dying of AIDS but at the same time, we are very conservative and religious so we are too brainwashed to get it on)
Basically, the stereotypes are plentiful and conflicting but almost all negative. Oh and let me point out that people of all nationalities, races, and variations are guilty of stereotyping us without ever having interacted with an African or seen one in real life (that should be a DUH but it's important to point out that all have stereotyped and fallen short of the PC ideal, lest we be tempted to blame whitey and only whitey). There are some country-specific stereotypes I've come across but that gets complicated so I'll leave the topic alone.