Critical Lenses of the movie Tuskegee Airmen

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CST 141 (section number here)

Professor Gorris

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Critical Lenses of the movie Tuskegee Airmen

Formalistic Lens –

This plot of the movie was based on the true story of The 332nd Air Force Fighter Squadron, about the struggles of a group of young men who were training to become the first squad of black American pilots to be allowed to fight for their country. The characters were college educated black men from various back grounds who were selected for an experimental Air Force Pilot Training program. The movie’s overtone suggested that the thought of the movie was the impending failure of the young black trainees due to their inferior status. Southern accents and military lingo dominated the language of the movie. One song in particular that stood out was a military cadence the blacks sang to express their unity-their oneness of purpose. The movie presented spectacular aerial views of confrontations with enemy planes.

Materialistic Lens

The institutions of power in The Tuskegee Airmen were the U.S. Government-specifically the law makers, the Jim Crow Laws and the Air Force. The Government as an institution of power was represented by the Legislators who were to determine if the Training Experiment was a success or a waste of taxpayer dollars. The U.S. Government was again represented as an institution of power by the Jim Crows Laws that affected the young men by requiring that they-as new recruits who were heading in to report for service-get off of the bus that they were traveling on, in order to board a different bus for the sole purpose of segregating them. The Air Force as an institution of power was represented throughout the movie by prejudiced military officers. The oppressed were the Tuskegee Airmen. They were oppressed by the attitudes of the Powers That Be. They break free by realizing their dreams of becoming the first black pilots in American history, ever to be allowed to represent their country as members of the U.S. Air Force.

Semiotic Lens

In the movie, the usually cruel behavior of the white military officers toward the black pilots was a signifier. The bad behavior signified the prevailing superior attitude of the white officers. The ill treatment of others is an obvious universal symbol of a superiority of one racial group over another. The words “strange fruit” was used in the movie to signify the brutal act of lynching. The term was interpreted in the movie in the context of a poem. The poems’ description of “strange fruit” hanging from a tree made it obvious that it was conveying men hanging from trees. The symbolic meaning “strange fruit”, in the movie The Tuskegee Airmen, can be viewed as a universal symbol of terrorism, designed to cause fear in order to suppress the spirits of a people.

Ethno-Historical Lens

Despite the high level of racial tension the black pilots saw the world through hopeful eyes covered by optimistic lenses. They hoped for the opportunity to serve their country by fighting in World War II. In contrast, the opposing white American culture viewed the world through contemptuous eyes. They abhorred the thought of black men engaging in and succeeding in a high skill level occupation right alongside whites. Common ground was founded on the fact that they were all talented pilots whose goal was to successfully defend their country. The main contributing factor behind the thought of the movie, The Tuskegee Airmen, was the difference of skin color of the main characters. The differences were natural in nature and minimal in degree due to the superficial quality of an individuals’ skin color.