In June 1982, film scholar Richard Dyer published a two-page essay on African-American star Diana Ross in the journal Marxism Today. Part of Dyer’s essay explicitly focuses on the American conception of success and specifically on how Ross is one of the few black artists who has been “allowed” to be such a success. The first half of this audiovisual essay applies Dyer’s text not to the “real” Diana Ross but to the fictional character she portrays in the star vehicle Mahogany (Berry Gordy, 1975), thereby showing how the onscreen performance and the off-screen persona are intertwined. The second half of the audiovisual essay aims to raise the question (rather than providing a definite answer) whether or not, three decades later, Dyer’s text could be applicable to African-American superstar Beyoncé Knowles.
Published in [in]Transition: Journal of Videographic Film & Moving Image Studies, 2:4 2016: mediacommons.futureofthebook.org/intransition/2015/12/29/success