For my final project, I am going to be analyzing the trope of the “Magical Negro,” or a saintly black character that usually aids a white protagonist. We see this trop manifest itself in a variety of media, but I am going to be focusing on its use in film. In order to build my final project, I am going to be focusing on this trope for my final few blog posts.
This week, I utilized Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Corina, in the 1994 film Corina, Corina. She comes to the aid of a father and daughter who have just tragically lost their wife and mother, as their new nanny and housekeeper. The daughter, Molly, has refused to speak since her mother’s death, but we see her first open up to Corina when she is trying to handle how to deal with the death of her mother. Corina not only serves as a guide and savior for Molly, but also her father, Manny Singer. Corina experiences many obstacles that are unfortunately thrown in the way of an African American nanny of an affluent white family. My clip first shows many of the happiest moments in the film, depicting the joy Corina brings into the lives of both Manny and Molly. It then goes to show Molly confronting her grief in the first stage, denial, with Corina while she makes the bed Molly’s parents once shared.
I chose a quote from Gray’s reading, because I feel as though it orients my post appropriately leading up to the final project. The trope of the magical negro works because it is an African American, and this distinction plays a key role in allowing the character to be the aid that they are. More often than not, the saintly black person is in a lower position then those he or she is helping, which rang true for me while reading Gray’s piece on recognition. While African Americans are normally counted out before given a fair chance to prove what they have to offer, many of the actors or actresses that function as the magical negro do so with soft spoken wisdom, until they have built enough credibility to speak with more passion.
After reading Gray’s piece and focusing on Corina, Corina, a few lingering questions popped into mind while reading the definition for “affect.” Since affect in media are the lingering feelings that always aren’t accounted for, I wondered how this depiction might read to the African American audience. Perhaps it feels like some sort of redemption, but on the other hand one may ask if there is any redemption that must be had in the first place. I included one scene where Corina comes back at Manny while he’s interviewing her saying that after her four years with a professor, she graduated, stumping whatever assumptions Manny might have had.
Corina exemplifies the qualities of the magical negro throughout the movie, and provided a strong foundation for my project.