Title

Communities of Memory, Entanglements, and Claims of the Past on the Present: Reading Race Trauma through The Green Mile

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2010

Publication Title

Critical Studies in Media Communication

Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

This essay examines published reviews of Frank Darabont's 1999 film, The Green Mile, as a lens for reading the legacies of American race trauma upon contemporary sensibilities. Close analysis reveals three communities of memory, each defined through a distinct relationship to slavery, Jim Crow, and white supremacy. Through a close analysis of the relationship between each community's readings of the film and preferred meanings anchored in the film's semiotic structure, we locate the key interpretive strategy used by each of these communities: One strategy is structured through melancholia and guilt for the sins of white supremacy; another is structured through mourning and moving beyond victimization; and a third is structured through the “negative sublimity” of transcendent Christian salvation. We then explicate historic and ideological entanglements among these three communities of memory. Points of intersection reveal internal contradictions that call for critical self-reflexive conversation within each community, and resources for communities to live productively with each other in relation to the past. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Volume

27

Issue

2

pp.

131-154

ISSN

1529-5036