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African Myths

            As an American, when it comes to Africa, one is on the outside looking in, waiting to be .
             The continent has always intrigued Westerners, and it has been a subject of interest in .
             popular culture for centuries. However intrigue has not always existed along side respect. And .
             often, appreciation has been replaced with exploitation. Through this exploitative contact, a .
             barrage of ignorant and sensationalized media depictions have reached the eyes and ears of most .
             of the western world. Popular forums of culture such as books, and magazines have always .
             fueled the interest in Africa, and an inherently false portrayal. But in the last century, no medium .
             of western culture has been more popular and responsible for this portrayal than that of film. .
             With its depiction of the white hero in the midst of dark peril amongst savages, film sends a clear .
             and Euro-centric message. And whether the audience-supported goal is conquest or escape, the .
             message is damaging and dangerous. .
             Films utilizing the mystique of Africa in their story telling have existed nearly as long as .
             the medium itself. From early silent films still depicting the British hero of 19th century novels, to .
             early Americanized white heroes such as Humphrey Bogart in "African Queen", to the modern .
             day action epic, evolution and has been slow in coming. And though there is greater .
             enlightenment today, many audiences still embrace the Caucasian hero, struggling to conquer the .
             "The Ghost and the Darkness" is a recent film starring Val Kilmer and Micheal Douglas .
             which tells a story based on a true account of a pair of man-eating lions that terrorized workers .
             in Tsavo, East Africa during the construction of the British railroad. It was released in theatres .
             around the U.S. in 1996, and has since been made available for rental or purchase internationally. .
             Set in the 1890's, it has all the makings of a grand adventure into The Dark Continent.

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