The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar

S. & S. Audio Feb. 2023. 9:30 hrs. ISBN 9781797152882. $19.99. FILM
Media studies scholar Coleman (Northwestern Univ.; Horror Noire) and entertainment journalist Harris explore Black roles and stories in horror cinema as well as the tropes and stereotypes that are still prevalent today. The coauthors are thorough in their examples of Black representation, from depictions as a fearsome “other” in film’s early days to Black characters’ now cringe-inducing “comic” roles to stories that perpetuated an assortment of Black stereotypes. All this culminates in an analysis of modern Black horror movies that some might derisively call “woke” (the writers also explore that term) but reflect Black people’s unique experiences. For those fearing a dry, academic treatise on Black cinema, the book’s prose, as well as the down-to-earth voice of narrator Jaime Lincoln Smith, inject enough humor to keep the book’s overall tone conversational and engaging.
VERDICT The book explores nearly every aspect and example of Black horror cinema, from recurring one-dimensional archetypes to surgical dissections of relevant films, but its overall message resonates. Black voices and creatives in cinema have made strides in representation, but there is clearly more work to do.
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