Chasing Afrodite : performing blackness and "excess flesh" in film
Scott, Tynisha Shavon
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How do you address the continued prevalence of black women’s sexuality as commodifiable, censured, and coveted in mass culture? Chasing Afrodite offers one answer to this question through examining explicit cinematic performances of black women’s sexuality in mass media. This project deploys Nicole R. Fleetwood’s performative of “excess flesh” within one of the most visceral mediums proffering authentic renderings of black women’s sexuality: film. Through an analysis of two distinct films featuring non-simulated sexual performances by black women—Afrodite Superstar (dir. Abiola Abrams, 2007) and Ashley and Kisha: Finding the Right Fit (dir. Tony Comstock, 2007)—Chasing Afrodite explores the contradictions and contentions that still make public enactments of sex by black bodies so problematic. Though the directors and participants in both films eschew the label of pornography in favor of erotica or other less pejorative terms, their larger reception places them in a precarious place amongst other films with explicit sexual content. The women in these films refuse to unhinge hypersexuality from blackness and refract the dominant gaze by displaying their desires for a viewing audience. In doing so, their labor in these films intervenes in common discussions in black, feminist, and film studies that assume these images are inherently degrading.