Critical Studies in Media Communication
The 1988 film Mississippi Burning drew extensive criticism for its misleading portrayal of the FBI’s investigation of three murdered civil rights activists in 1964. As critics noted, the film ignored the role of black activists who struggled for racial justice even as it graphically depicted the violence that activists and other blacks faced during the civil rights era. This movie’s selective depiction of events surrounding the activists’ deaths constituted the film as a site of cinematic amnesia, a form of public remembrance that provokes controversy over how events ought to be remembered. An analysis of the film and its ensuing controversy illustrates how provocatively forgetful texts can simultaneously prompt media attention to political activism and deflect attention from contemporary racial injustice.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in CRITICAL STUDIES IN MEDIA COMMUNICATION on February 25, 2009, available online: http://wwww.tandfonline.com/10.1080/15295030802684059.
Hoerl, K.E. (2009) Burning Mississippi into memory? Cinematic amnesia as a resource for remembering Civil Rights. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 26(1), pp. 54-79. Available from: digitalcommons.butler.edu/ccom_papers/17