Cultural Studies: Volume 9 Issue 3 by Lawrence Grossberg, Janice Radway

By Lawrence Grossberg, Janice Radway

Cultural reports is a world magazine dedicated to exploring the relationships among cultural practices and lifestyle, fiscal relatives, the cloth international, the country, and ancient forces and contexts.

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It must be scrutinized in the same way we would scrutinize any other depiction of Black America formed from the predominantly White imagination that is Hollywood. Bhabha suggest, racial or cultural identity is continually changing, always in the process of formation ‘and always constituted within, not outside, representation’ (Hall, 1989: 68). In his work on cultural identity and cinematic representation, Hall explains for us the two primary ways of understanding cultural identity. The first is that cultural identity is already formed, historical, consistent, a system of codes that constitutes a group as ‘“one people”, with stable, unchanging and continuous frames of reference and meaning’, an identity which, say, television must simply faithfully represent (69).

And yet, as Jhally and Lewis remind us, ‘Television having confused people about class, becomes incomprehensible about race’ (1992:135). Network television simply refuses to grant legitimacy to any but the dominant upscale middle-class culture that is most commonly represented. Jhally and Lewis, for example, discovered that a program like Roseanne becomes notable because it defies ‘the norm… Simply by being working class, she stands out’ (1992:133). A program like A Different World works hard to defy its title.

Northern Exposure, 1992) A generous reading of this dialogue would be to say that the flute maker, like Indian people all over, is simply accepting the fact of change and keeping what he values about his traditions but not making the tradition the whole of his existence. And, certainly, this man represents contemporary Indian accommodation to changing conditions. Still, the final moment of dialogue seems to go far beyond simple accommodation. According to the flute maker’s reasoning, the colonizing culture is not at fault because, like animals (mastodons, sabre-tooth tigers, bison) Indian tribes simply became extinct.

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