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Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  1,026 ratings  ·  41 reviews
According to the Washington Post, no one who cares about contemporary African-American cultures can ignore bell hooks' electrifying feminist explorations. Targeting cultural icons as diverse as Madonna and Spike Lee, Outlaw Culture presents a collection of essays that pulls no punches. As hooks herself notes, interrogations of popular culture can be a 'powerful site for in ...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published May 12th 2006 by Routledge (first published 1994)
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Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really didn’t expect this book to be nearly as clear or readable as it turned out to be. The more I think about that, the more it seems to me to be a real indictment of general academic writing – particularly progressive writing that is seeking to provide tools for some kind of liberation of the oppressed. By making what is said utterly incomprehensible to those most in need of those words we are doing them a double disservice. Denying them access even to the puny amount of hope our ideas migh ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
In her introduction, hooks writes about finding herself at home in Cultural Studies ‘where interdisciplinary work [as opposed to the conventional specialised & periodised pedagogy she’d felt so limited by] was encouraged and affirmed’. When white male academics in the US discovered Cultural Studies, it promptly exploded, and became a glorious space where she was free to transgress the boundaries she had always pushed at, and where hoards of students excitedly engaged critically with popular cult ...more
Everett Darling
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Alot to consider. My favorite chapter was 9, the interview she engaged with Re/Search Publications.

Favorite lines -

"The political core of any movement for freedom in the society has to have the political imperative to protect free speech...The covert silencing of dissenting voices and opinions undermines free speech and strengthens the forces of censorship within and outside radical movements...any progressive political movement grows and matures only to the degree that it passionately welcome
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is my first book by bell hooks. It's funny, it dives into all this pop culture stuff from when I was busy dropping out of high school to live a life of a scummy street-punk. So in some ways, it picks up where I left off. bell hooks is amazingly articulate and I love reading this. The essay on censorship from the right and the left is particularly good, pressing us to encourage and welcome dissent and to beware of the tendency to censor or self-censor in the interest of maintaining harmony o ...more
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Required reading for anyone who thinks that feminism is monolithic and univocal. In this collection of essays/interviews, bell hooks takes aim at Madonna, Spike Lee, Camille Paglia, Katie Roiphe, and antisex feminists like Catharine MacKinnon, just to name a few.
Natrila Femi
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Many times I found myself appalled and disgusted in the way representations have been commodified into mere tokenism, especially representations on Black women and Black folks in general. This book is eye-opening for me, delves deep to issues from feminist academia into Hollywood. My first bell hooks book and plan to read more books by her.
Erin Thomson
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Take a drink every time Spike Lee, Madonna, or the phrase "white supremacist capitalist patriarchy" is mentioned.

But seriously, this is a great read. Many of the subjects broached are despairingly relevant to modern "culture war" discussions, and even if you don't agree with all of hooks' takes, they are all excellent at prompting deeper thought.
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
"One has to cultivate the capacity to wait. I think about a culture of domination as being very tied to notions of efficiency- everything running smoothly. I mean, it's so much easier if you tell me, "I'm leaving!" rather than "I desire to leave and not come back- how does that desire impact on you?" and I reply, "Is there a space within which I can have a response?" All this takes more time than the kind of fascism that says, "This is what I'm doing- fuck you!"

Variety of essays and dialogues..
Stef Rozitis
I was amazed that even though all the movies etc that were discussed in this were around 20 years ago or so this book was politically still so relevant and sadly filling in gaps in our conversation that still exist. Not everything in the book was so current, a couple of times I thought it was showing its age as a text but it remains thought provoking even now (it helped that I had seen some of the movies discussed but hooks keeps us in the loop enough even when we haven't,

hooks is very readable,
Maria Calinescu
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
an incredible collection of essays from which I learnt a lot about intersectionalism and black self-determinism; feminism and the importance of recognising that we live in a white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, and this informs every aspect of our mass / "mainstream" culture
amazing amazing cultural criticism! some interviews featured too, which was really cool to see bell hooks' ideas manifesting in dialogue. the quotes she picks to centre her discussions, and the films + books she interroga
Varun Gulati
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a compilation of a series of interviews and essays with the author, radical feminist thinker bell hooks. It really is provocative and challenging in a multitude of ways. She hops around from challenging our ideas of materialism, to questioning the role of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy in gangsta rap, to movies in pop culture that are supposedly seen as revolutionary but are hardly subversive. I’m walking away from this book feeling like I am better able to articulate how c ...more
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A superb introduction to the beliefs, ideals, philosophies, and writing style of bell hooks.
Shannon Ratliff
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bell Hooks is grossly under-appreciated. Smart smart smart.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
this was my introduction to the term "white supremacist capitalistic patriarchy". bell hooks does not play. ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Accessible, encouraging and joyful.
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Compulsory reading for EVERYONE!
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fairly precient and relative 15 plus years later.
Zachary Rosengarten
Come for the insightful cultural criticism intersecting with the global racist patriarchy, stay for bell hooks absolutely dunking on Madonna.

Used as a memo, not an actual review
( Damn I wanted to recall it later on , its not my own)

Recommends it for: film crit, Malcolm X bio, African American art, queer representation, Jean-Michel Basquiat
Gotta love bell hooks. Gotta love Routledge. This is a collection of her essays, some previously published in Black Looks, Art Matters and some others that escape me. Overall, a diverse and exceptional selection in terms of topics she addresses and her range of critical acrobatics. The overarching t
Andrew Bishop
Apr 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: film crit, Malcolm X bio, African American art, queer representation, Jean-Michel Basquiat
Gotta love bell hooks. Gotta love Routledge. This is a collection of her essays, some previously published in Black Looks, Art Matters and some others that escape me. Overall, a diverse and exceptional selection in terms of topics she addresses and her range of critical acrobatics. The overarching theme here, if there is just one, is that by and large, there is no satisfactory representation of outlaw cultures. Images of feminist, black and/or queer transgressive movement, more than not, provide ...more
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Outlaw Culture is the first book of hooks that I have read, although I've read several of her earlier articles (which I remember enjoying). In OC, I was turned off by her presumptuous declarations about what certain artistic pieces were about. She will spend pages antagonizing a certain thinker/artist/piece of art using harsh and political language without dignifying her evaluation with facts. For instance, she pulverizes Spike Lee for the mere fact that more time in Malcolm X is spent dedicated ...more
Danni Green
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rov
This is a powerful book. It illuminates the depth and breadth of racism at its intersection with sexism, as perpetuated by contemporary media in many forms. bell hooks does not shy away from holding individuals and institutions accountable for their actions. She shows injustice to the reader in ways that most of us have probably not seen it before, while constructing a thorough argument for why it is essential to view injustice in these ways in order to take action against it.

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May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Bell Hooks vocalizes ideas that have been swirling around my head for the past few years in an eloquent yet understandable way. I found something worthy in each chapter, but her commentary on the following - bourgeoisie notion of privacy, "love ethic", addiction as a cover up for the inability to be alone with one's self, liberal individualism vs communalism - were topics that stuck out to me and that I'm still wrestling with. Many books are mentioned by Hooks in this work, which I am ...more
This book was a lot to take in, and is probably not for the everyday reader. I wasn't quite prepared to read this in some ways--I had to look up quite a few references--and her vitriol directed to some films and people was surprising, though she is right. I teach a few chapters from this, and her intro, where she discusses cultural theory and what cultural studies entails, was really enlightening because THAT'S WHAT I DO. I just didn't necessarily refer to it in that way.

One side note: there we
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
I liked most of this book. For me, this was not one of bell's strongest. I just finished it the other day and the few essays at the end were engaging, but I recall some of it being less engaging because her critiques were geared around some pop-cultural items I had not read, seen, or heard. That puts me at a disadvantage when trying to understand her critiques of those items. Some of the essays are not as particular and are very well written and give the reader a lot to think about. ...more
Dec 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Hit or miss essays on pop culture and then some. Too many of these were dated (pop culture in 1993??) and useless for lack of context. A few were full of really great insights, connections between everyday life and intersecting oppressions, race and gender in particular. Left me with little to say.
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I find bell hooks profoundness to be unmatched when it comes to cultural studies. The way she digs in things and analyses them with care and concern, you can tell she spends time mulling over details and their respective affect of cultures. Unlike most intellectuals her work is easy to read and understand. I just wish I could live in her mind for a day.
Brian Kovesci
This book forced me to think outside I my existence and see the problems other groups of people face daily. We all have problems, but this helped me to understand the inequality of our society from both gender and racial perspectives. I especially like how hooks isn't afraid to be critical and that she sees critique as constructive. I'll read as much writing by bell hooks as I can. ...more
Jan 17, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I thought this was a tiny book, but this is a sort of mammoth book of essays and I can BARELY keep myself from starting this, but I'm reading so many things already. This looks like a REALLY EXCITING BOOK!!!! ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this book. Cultural critic bell hooks is brilliant, and her cogent thinking about race, sex, class, and capitalism, buoyed by her lucid prose, is seductive and empowering. I must read everything she's ever written. Luckily for me, she's prolific. ...more
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Bell Hooks (born Gloria Jean Watkins) is an African-American author, feminist, and social activist. Her writing has focused on the interconnectivity of race, class, and gender and their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and domination. She has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in ...more

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