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Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership$
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Erica R. Edwards

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816675456

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816675456.001.0001

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“Cyanide in the Kool-Aid”

“Cyanide in the Kool-Aid”

Black Politics and Popular Cultureafter Civil Rights

Chapter:
(p.135) Chapter 5 “Cyanide in the Kool-Aid”
Source:
Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership
Author(s):

Erica R. Edwards

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816675456.003.0005

This chapter presents how curiosity, manifested in particular through parody, weds the conceptual work of contesting charisma to the playful questioning embedded in the formal workings of African American humor. At the turn of the twenty-first century, American popular culture witnessed an explosion of millennial refashionings of spectacular black political leadership, even as postmodern black fiction and film contested the scenario of charismatic black political leadership as the primal and primary mode of political belonging and performance in the post-civil rights black cultural repertoire. The chapter examines Paul Beatty’s novel The White Boy Shuffle and the film Barbershop as revisionist counterstories, whose characters embrace an intuitive way of seeing that grapples with those “phantom subjects” of civil rights protest. These subjects are both the leaders they lack and the players in the drama of black political history that the leadership spectacle necessarily pushes out of sight.

Keywords:   Paul Beatty, The White Boy Shuffle, Barbershop, revisionist counterstories, civil rights protest, black political history, African American humor, American popular culture, charismatic black political leadership

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