Home > Uncategorized > Martyrs of the Alamo

Martyrs of the Alamo

So, one of my main problems I encountered while viewing this film was myself. Because while I saw the outstanding racism, and the laughable account of history portrayed by Griffiths, a part of me was really impressed by the choreography of the fight scenes (though outlandishly violent)…and really curious as to how many raccoons it took to outfit every “American” soldier with a coon-skin hat. From a production standpoint this film seemed to be quite an endeavor for the time period. That being said, this makes the film all the more disturbing.

One of the things I explored after watching the film -because I had heard of but never actually seen it before- was black face make up. In researching how this style came into popularity, I discovered an article posted on the NPR website about “The Legacy of Black Face.” Interestingly enough,  in the 1830’s a man named Tim D. Rice began playing a character named “Jim Crow” in blackface as a minstrel act. The “Jim Crow” character was a trickster, and the act caught on with audiences in New York.  This spiraled into a more racist style. I will say that I did look at Wikipedia initially, and was intrigued by a comment written there. The article admitted the racism and the stereotyping down falls that this style impounded into a culture, however, it says that: “Perhaps the most enduring effect of blackface is the precedent it established in the introduction of African American Culture to an international audience, albeit through a distorted lens.” Theatrical styles spread, and this one spread a stereotype internationally. I suppose what has frustrated and interested me throughout this class and throughout exploring this racism is my constant wondering how the hell it all got there in the first place. People today make jokes that African Americans love watermelons. Well I like them too, where the hell do these stereotypes even come from? Stereotypes such as this were purported by the blackface icons and images, which originated as a theatrical stylization in a minstrel show. For a while these images defined a culture to the world, in the same way people in Texas define themselves by the equally inaccurate, yet heroic, portrayals of the characters in films such as Martyrs of the Alamo. In fact, the United States itself seems to define itself on these larger than life characters and their feats of “heroism”. I am just…shocked.

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