Secrecy: Help Me to Understand

1994, 8 min, color, sound

This tape investigates the media's portrayal of African American males, specifically the use of stereotypes in such cases as the Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson trials. Jenkins responds to the ceaseless televisual repetition of images from such events by constructing this tape as a 25-minute loop of one 5-minute segment. Secrecy: Help Me to Understand investigates the question of discrimination in the media from different cultural and historical perspectives. How does Western culture's fascination with the Classical Greek Tragic Hero play into this current fascination with the celebrity's downward plunge into disgrace? What is the role of the archetypal racism of sports and entertainment in the United States in this same phenomenon? Writes Jenkins: "The title is derived from the videographer utilizing the African tradition called "Secrecy," an art that conceals and reveals. Or in other words; that which is in front of someone (circumstances or an art/ritual object) can remain indiscernible if they cannot decode the metaphorical language being conveyed... The intent of this work is to examine how discrimination is ritualized in the media."