Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch Trailer for Teen TV Drama Series in Development, ‘MysEducation’ Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial Watch Grace Jones’ “Banned” Citroën CX TV Commercial BET Adds 2 New Original Movies + New Series, and More to Its Summer Lineup BET Adds 2 New Original Movies + New Series, and More to Its Summer Lineup Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ Official First Look Images from Detroit-Set indie drama ‘Wolf Who Cried Boy’ Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO Morgan Freeman's Bass Reeves Project Finally Gets a Lift, Thanks to HBO First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis First Look at CBS' 'Rush Hour' Series + Official Synopsis What Did You Think of 'Bessie' After Last Night's Premiere? What Did You Think of 'Bessie' After Last Night's Premiere? Interview: Robert Ri'chard and Imani Hakim on Child Stardom to "Chocolate City" Interview: Robert Ri'chard and Imani Hakim on Child Stardom to "Chocolate City" Watch B.B. King Tell His Story in 1972 BBC Documentary, 'Sounding Out' Watch B.B. King Tell His Story in 1972 BBC Documentary, 'Sounding Out' Here's Another New CW Series That I Would Consider Taking a Look At... Trailer #2 Is Much Longer Here's Another New CW Series That I Would Consider Taking a Look At... Trailer #2 Is Much Longer Spike Lee Finally Breaks Silence on 'Chiraq' - "Everything I've Done Has Led Up to This Film" Spike Lee Finally Breaks Silence on 'Chiraq' - "Everything I've Done Has Led Up to This Film" New York Women in Film & Television Now Accepting Applications for Its Four 2015 Funds for Women Filmmakers New York Women in Film & Television Now Accepting Applications for Its Four 2015 Funds for Women Filmmakers So Now It's Rick Famuyiwa for Marvel’s 'Black Panther' and Ava DuVernay for 'Captain Marvel'? So Now It's Rick Famuyiwa for Marvel’s 'Black Panther' and Ava DuVernay for 'Captain Marvel'? Watch Wesley Snipes & Damon Gupton in First Trailer for NBC's 'Endgame' (Set for Thursday Nights at 10pm) Watch Wesley Snipes & Damon Gupton in First Trailer for NBC's 'Endgame' (Set for Thursday Nights at 10pm) Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Apparently, Many of You Aren't Pleased With the "All-New" 'Single Ladies'... What's Going on? Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Starz Announces Return Date for Original Series 'Power' + New Key Art + Trailer Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Buzzfeed Investigates Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Flashback To 1971 - Discord Over "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song"

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act March 22, 2012 at 9:50AM

Melvin Van Peebles will hit one of those milestone birthdays this year; the man will turn 80 years old on August 21st!
6
Sweetback

Melvin Van Peebles will hit one of those milestone birthdays this year; the man will turn 80 years old on August 21st!

We'll have to do something in his honor when that time comes; I'll start working on getting our first interview with the man leading up to that.

But in the meantime... a flashback...

Quite possibly one of the most polarizing black films ever made... Melvin Van Peebles' 1971 film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, with the intellectual and ideological fissure happening especially across class lines within the black community at the time; and that disunity played out on the public stage, exemplified by Huey P. Newton's devoting an entire issue of The Black Panther to the film's revolutionary implications (He Won't Bleed Me: A Revolutionary Analysis of 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song); and then Lerone Bennet's scathing take-down of the film in the September 1971 issue of what Ed Guerrero called the then "principal organ of the black bourgeoisie," Ebony magazine, titled The Emancipation Orgasm: Sweetback In Wonderland.

I wanted to post both pieces here, but I couldn't locate Newton's online (if anyone can, let me know). I did find Bennet's Ebony critique, which isn't solely a lambasting of Van Peebles' film, but also calls for more discussion that would lead to a clearly defined "black aesthetic;" discussions that are still relevant today, 40 years later. 

Click the image below to go to the full essay; trust me, it's worth a read. 

This article is related to: Melvin Van Peebles


Shadow & ActNewsletter