What are your thoughts on Blaxploitation films?


According to Wikipedia.org, Blaxploitation is a film genre that emerged in the United States in the early 1970s when many exploitation films were made that targeted the urban black audience; the word itself is a portmanteau of the words "black" and "exploitation." Blaxploitation films were the first to feature soundtracks of funk and soul music. These films starred primarily black actors.

Variety magazine credited Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song with the invention of the blaxploitation genre. Others argue that the Hollywood-financed film Shaft is closer to being blaxploitation, and thus, is more likely to have begun the genre.


At the same time, the films were accused of stereotyping blacks, the audience they aimed to appeal to, as pimps and drug dealers. This dovetailed with common white stereotypes about black people, and as a result, many called for the end of the blaxploitation genre. The NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Urban League joined together to form the Coalition Against Blaxploitation. Backed by many black film professionals, this group received much media exposure and hastened the death of the genre by the late 1970s.

Blaxploitation films, such as Mandingo, laid the foundation for future filmmakers to address racial controversies regarding inner city poverty, and in the early 1990s, a new wave of acclaimed black filmmakers focused on black urban life in their films, particularly Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing and John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood, among others. (wikipedia)

Do you agree the movie Shaft may have begun the genre? Although I love some of the soundtracks, I have mixed feelings about these movies... what are your thoughts?


Resources:

List of Blaxploitation movies

What makes a Blaxploitation movie a blaxploitation movie? On the list above there are some titles I do not concider blaxploitation movies ex: They call me Mr. Tibbs. Also Do not see Cooley High as a blax either...



It's back!
Black Dynamite, starring Michael Jai White, is a spoof of blaxploitation films of the 1970s. Its premiere was at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where Sony Worldwide Acquisitions picked it up for distribution. A release date of October 16, 2009 has been announced on the film's official Twitter feed.


I joined our Gary on his show this past October 15 "Dusties Party" on WHPK.ORG and the show was awesome! Click on Gary's comment below to listen!

" I'm playing the soundtracks to certain films,along with classic radio spots from these movies." - Gary

*****

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Tags: blaxploitation

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Comment by Lydell Jackson on October 16, 2009 at 1:14am
TM,

Your life experience is of great value to the Diaspora and unique but not singular. So many of us were sheltered by our parents (black or white) from the racist society that we grew up in. I'm sure your parents like mine, thought they were doing us a favor by not exposing us to the truth about what horrible human beings there were in our world. That is one reason when I had children of my own I made sure they understood what kind of sick world (not all of it, but too much of it) they would have to grow up in and hopefully try to change. They would have to do this while maintaining their own since of personal, cultural pride and dignity.

TM, you should never fill out of place no matter where you find yourself in this world. I don't know you well, but what I do know about you is, it is in your spirit to be self-sacrificing, gentle, giving, kind and caring. Those are traits that are welcome the world over. They are especially welcomed here.

You sound like you have a wonderful story to share about life from your adopted perspective during the era. I love this place and the people in it! You and others like you bring real life to "The Living Legacy Journal"

Thank you for being here...
Peace, Love and Courage to you my dear sister and all that you love...
Comment by COLOREDPEOPLE.NET on October 16, 2009 at 12:34am
I can relate to what Lydell said in my experience of being black born in a black country but being adopted by caucasians. Being sheltered from my black history growing up. Knew little about appartheid and did not relate nor identified with it. Never saw roots and the first time I saw an image of a black person hanging from a tree was after getting to this country in the mid 80s.

I was invited to audition to a classic Brazilian movie called Quilombo about the slaves revolt led by Zumbi and my mother would not allow it.

Anyway, I was raised in a white world in Brazil. When I came to the US, I was faced with two worlds, different societies, customs and was exposed to the plight of blacks in this country.

I feel out of place, even in this discussion, since I did not grow up here and did not experience the culture as you both have, however we all are linked by a common thread and I truly appreciate this site and you Lydell for your efforts. My sister Eddie, you are a musical encyclopedia and I cherish you as well. Have learned a great deal and there is so much to learn...

Glad to be here.
Comment by Lydell Jackson on October 15, 2009 at 11:10pm
"Blaxploitation"...What a word! I too am a child of a lot of eras (maybe even errors...LOL), but this one just happened to be one that I remember with a great deal of fondness. I was in my early teens when it began and without it I would not even have known what was goin' on in the world around me (from a black perspective) even if it may have been a ghetto slanted perspective.

Believe me when I say it helped to shape and define my teenage years and possibly my life. My teen years were not a joy ride. Family drama and other insecurities lead me to be quite reserved. Had lots of friends but never really fit in with most of them. I was really torn between two worlds. The Black world that I lived in and the White TV and media that I dreamed about...let me explain...

When I was a very small boy my Aunt Mildred (who at that time was a teenager or early 20s) took me with she and one of her friends to the movie theater. It was I believe a first for me. When we got to the theater in a small, (what was then rural - suburbs today) southern town, there were folk already goin' inside. I was so excited and ready for the experience. My aunt Mildred pulled me by my collar and said, "not over their, over here." We had to enter through another small door further down. I believe I asked "why" but I can't remember her answer or if she had even given me one. Anyway we went up the stairs and we were...you know...in the balcony. That was our place that the system had given us.

The movie started and I was amazed to see all these white teenagers having a blast on the beach. I believe the movie was "Beach Blanket Bingo" with Frankie Avalon and Anette Funny-Last-Name. What a first movie for a young black male child to experience. As if our entry into the theater wasn't humiliating enough. To have to watch and see what a wonderful carefree world it was for other young people. I could not imagine that my aunt saw her self in that film anywhere. We won't get into what her generation dreamed about.

I mentioned the above only to say when I saw my first blaxploitation film it ushered in a whole new realm of possibilities for this young impressionable black boy. For the first time I saw men who didn't just create trouble but who stood tall in the face of trouble, especially when faced with obstacles that were an affront to both their manhood and their race. They used every bit of street savvy and profanity in their arsenal to fight of the "powers that be"..."the man"...you know! Makes me wanna cuss right now!! (LOL) They let me know as a young black man, that I didn't have to take no shit myself (pardon my use of the four letter word). It also let me know that there were people who would defend me in my neighborhood against injustices, with everything they had (which wasn't much). It also made me feel like I would be able to do the same for others when I became a real man!!!

Of course I probably got into a lot of trouble emulating the attitudes of Jim Brown, Richard Rountree, Jim Kelly, the guy from Superfly and all the other fellas. But you have to put things into perspective. I believe, that like myself there were millions of other young impressionable black minds that benefited from the mere fact they were represented on the big screen in a way that was far from weak and subservient. In fact I wouldn't be at all concerned about giving credit to those films for paving the way for all the wonderful films to follow, like "The Secret Lives of Bees, The Color Purple, Love Jones, Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, Antwan Fisher...so on and so on. I mean really before "Baxploitation" what was there. I don't recall a genre of movies that had such an immediate impact on audiences of color around the world.

So I guess you know my video library contains many of these treasure from my past (I'm still collecting).

PS:
Now Sidney Poitier, he's a whole nutha thang! Can't even connect the man to anything that was ever less than stellar. He is the epitome of integrity and self-honoring love for himself and his people and as humanity at large. I loved him from a distance like an uncle and sometimes even a father. Even before I read "Measure of a Man", then he became an icon to me, because I could identify with all his life struggles (though mine were different they were the same). You know!!!! I don't even like discussing Sidney and Blaxploitaion together. Even though some think "Uptown Saturday Night" is a classic Blax film.

I'm done...
Comment by COLOREDPEOPLE.NET on October 15, 2009 at 8:13pm
I can totally relate with your reference to profanity. I too have issues with it. Don't use it and do not like to hear it, however I do realize profanity and what was depicted in these movies are a reality. It's like Ice Cube mentioned in an interview, until NWA came out with their music many people had no clue of the ghetto reality.
Comment by COLOREDPEOPLE.NET on October 15, 2009 at 12:19am
My mixed feelings are perhaps because of the stereotypes viewed by the rest of the world, which are not necessarily an accurate representation of an entire group of people. I do agree that these movies are treasures and loved your blog!

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