Fantasy Vs Reality

by dbent2 on November 20, 2013 - 9:10pm


Ousmane Sembene’s Black Girl (1966) focuses on a young black girl named Diouana from Dakar, Senegal who moves to Antibes, France to work for a rich French couple.  Throughout the film, the theme of reverse ethnocentrism, racism/discrimination and culture shock are prevalent throughout the film. The black girl otherwise known as Diouana experiences reverse ethnocentrism, which is a type of ethnocentrism, in which the home culture is regarded as inferior to a foreign culture. When Diouana moves from Dakar, Senegal to Antibes, France she envisions the cosmopolitan lifestyle which she was promised by the French couple. She believed she would live a better life in France working as a governess in comparison to her lifestyle in Senegal. However, upon her arrival in Antibes, France Diouana is forced to adjust her cultural view, which entails the importance of family and tradition. Under the mistaken assumption that she would be employed as a governess to the rich couples three children, Diouana quick learns that she has to cook, clean, babysit and do laundry. She is isolated from her friends and family and works without a stipend. She is ridiculed by her employer and seen as invisible. She is forced to work as a full servant instead of the governess position she imagined.

Discrimination denies people equal opportunities to achieve socially valued goals such as employment or education. In Diouana’s new country she is constantly made aware of her race and is often mistreated by her employer. Because of her employment status as a nanny she isn’t looked at with authority instead she is looked down upon as if she is less of a human.  With Diouana’s illiteracy she is basically trapped inside the employers house and only sees a smidge of France lifestyle through the window, although she was misled into believing she would live a better life in Antibes, France. The only times Diouana could leave the house was for shopping and not for herself. The constant verbal abuse by her employer and treatment as a slave really took a toll on her life and even made Diouana consider committing suicide as the only way out.  Diouana envisioned France as a Mecca of beautiful people and a land of opportunities and is disillusioned by her imagination and her reality. The film portrays her old life in Dakar, Senegal before and after her employment in addition to her monologues that contrast to what is being shown on screen.

            In Antibes, France Diouana experiences culture shock which is the strain that people from one culture experience when they must reorient themselves to the ways of a new culture. In Senegal she wears an African mask, which is part of her culture, and her French employers tries to diminish the importance of her culture. When Diouana tries to leave she packs her bags and the French employer and Diouana fight over the mask, which holds value to Diouana. When she finally regains the mask, the Monsieur pays her and she breaks down crying because she finally feels the full impact of her isolation from society.

            In the film Black Girl (1966) Diouana experiences a plethora of dehumanizing acts. From the life she mistakenly thought she’d live in France down to her isolation and discrimination from her employers, Diouana experienced a lot. While living in Antibes, France Diouana gives up a lot of her culture in order to somewhat blend in to French culture. Diouana is ridiculed and seen as less then a human in the eyes of her employer, which inevitably led to her committing suicide. This film explores many sociological terms in example, discrimination, reverse ethnocentrism and culture shock. Ousamane Semebene’s Black Girl (1966) depicts the hardships Diouana faces in her attempt to live the better life she was promised.


Sembène, O. (Director). (1966). Black Girl. France / Senegal: New Yorker Video



People go through culture shock all the time when they experience new cultures at many levels. A person could go into a foreign related store and have this. A person could even visit another country and have a greater impact. There are many different levels. These culture shocks can cause truly horrible results. As mentioned suicide can occur or even an elimination of one's own cultural ways. People in other culture could judge someone so much that it can break them down. I experienced this shock in a way when I moved from different schools and towns. Each one was different and scary. In these chances I broke down due to the great difference. Culture shock is present in all lives and in many area. Your article was great and very interesting. Great job.

Many individuals do go through some type of culture shock like in this film just like Diouana had encountered throughout her move from Africa to France. It is unfortunate, but a large amount of cultures do not view other cultures as equal to their own. Like in this film, the French family was very ethnocentric, they felt their culture was superior to Diouanna`s, just because she was African, and this is unfortunately common within many other cultures when there is a clash between to cultures that come close in proximity. This article clearly exhibits how culture shock and ethnocentrism is present throughout the world and how harsh it can be to some people.

Your title was what drew me in, but the organization of your post was very well thought out and I liked it a lot that I had to post a response! You do a great job describing the theme of reverse ethnocentrism, racism/discrimination and culture shock throughout the film. All the time people, like Diouana, experience culture shock when crossing into unfamiliar boarders around the world. It is sad to think that even today people experience discrimination that devalue them as human beings, as Diouana experienced in this film. Diouana thought moving to France would be her utopia but she quickly realized what she got herself into was dehumanizing and could remind us as slavery, which inevitably led to ending her own life. Everyone should be granted equal rights no matter their race, sex, class, or gender. In America we see this play out in our daily lives. Although I have not experienced gender inequality in the work force yet, adult women who participate in jobs equivalent to men have this problem every day. Compared to men, depending on the age, on average women make only 87 cents for every $1 men make. You did an awesome job; more people should read about these issues that are prevalent in our lives.

You did a great job on incorporating terms from our text, looks like you really know your stuff. I found this film rather disturbing and find it just terrible that Diouana was forced to experience dehumanizing acts like she did. I believe no human should be treated in this way and should have equal opportunities to an education and successful career. It shouldn't matter about what your race is or where you're from, but who you are and what qualities you have to offer. One thing that really baffled me was the fact that she decided to end it all by giving up her life. I understand she was angry, depressed, and isolated but why not go home and leave it in the past. I guess her point was shown. I'd like to see more opinions but as for your description, summary, and facts you nailed it!

Your article really drew my attention just after reading a few lines. You have that way of writing and structuring all your ideas that is very impressive, thus your message is getting trough much effectively. Plus, you article reflects an absolute truth, every immigrant have a shock when arriving to a new country and you explained it perfectly by all those story. Keep up.

When I first saw the title of this post I began to think what could it be about? With my recollection of the films shown in the series I did not remember a theme of fantasy nor reality. However as I read the article I began to think of how the title does apply to this film. It made me think of how sad it was to be misled as Diouana was by the French couple. This film was still able to expose me to how some people actually think. Sadly, many cultures feel their culture is more superior to other ones and with this thought it can lead to the demise of the cultures believed as inferior. Although, this was a fictional film it still had a huge effect on me. These ideas need to change so we as one people can progress. Great Job!

When I watched this film, I was instantly in love because it was a black and white film and I've grown up watching black and white films and other different types of film. However, from the beginning the film seemed to be more primitive but I guess that can be explained because of the time period it was made in and cinema then. Throughout my education, the concepts of ethnocentrism and racism have come up but not only in the descriptions of bigger things and big pictures. This film brings these larger concepts down to reality and portray a story that probably happened time and time again in reality. I liked your blog post and how it was very organized and you used good examples to prove your points. The title drew me in as other people have said, and I couldn't think which movie this could be describing, but after thinking about how Diouana thought about France and how she really experienced it the title made sense. I really enjoyed your blog post and I really enjoyed the film, good job!

It is very true when you said that discrimination denies people equal opportunity to achieve their educational or employment goals or dreams. It is very sad that it happens to people because everyone should have a fair chance at whatever they want to achieve in life. I feel like it still happens today amongst our communities. In today’s work force there are studies that have been conducted where if there was a black man that was a college graduate and highly qualified and a high school graduate white male applying for the same job, the white male is more likely to get it just because of the color of his skin. I feel like discrimination happens all around us, it is just hidden and done discretely because it is illegal and frown upon by a lot of people.

As I was scrolling through NewsActivist, the title of your article popped out at me. Although I did not see this film, after reading your review, I really wish I got a chance to watch it. Your explanations were very clear and gave me a desire to watch this movie on my own time. Racism and discrimination is still remains in the workforce today in America, although it is very subtle. For example, in my Race, Class, and Gender course, we talked about how Walmart and other department stores give women a lower wage than men and tend to avoid hiring black females as cashiers. People in many different cultures all want to achieve their dreams and do what’s best for themselves. Diouana made a strong attempt, but the harshness from the French couple and the overwhelming experience from culture shock led her to a make a drastic and unfortunate decision. Although I have never experienced gender or racial discrimination in the workplace, it is obvious that it still exists today.

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