Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar Righting a Past Wrong? Academy to Present Spike Lee with Honorary Oscar Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington Viola Davis Says She Will Star in a Film Adaptation of 'Fences' Directed by Denzel Washington Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Vin Diesel Says He's Returning for a 'xXx' Threequel - Filming to Start in December Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades Updates on Steve McQueen's "Epic" Series Centered on a Black Community in London, Over 3 Decades This Is What Angela Bassett and Naomi Campbell Will Look Like in 'American Horror Story: Hotel' This Is What Angela Bassett and Naomi Campbell Will Look Like in 'American Horror Story: Hotel' Quentin Tarantino Says 'The Hateful Eight' Will Be Timely & Will Tackle White Supremacy Quentin Tarantino Says 'The Hateful Eight' Will Be Timely & Will Tackle White Supremacy But What About Black Superheroines, You Ask? Watch Episode 1 of CW Seed's Vixen Series But What About Black Superheroines, You Ask? Watch Episode 1 of CW Seed's Vixen Series Watch: First Look at Season Three of 'Hit the Floor' Watch: First Look at Season Three of 'Hit the Floor' Brad Pitt's Plan B + 'Ex Machina' Distribution Company Team up for Barry Jenkins' 'Moonlight' Brad Pitt's Plan B + 'Ex Machina' Distribution Company Team up for Barry Jenkins' 'Moonlight' Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji Join Issa Rae in 'Insecure' for HBO Jay Ellis and Yvonne Orji Join Issa Rae in 'Insecure' for HBO Tupac Shakur Facebook Page Posts Cryptic Message on Upcoming "Special Announcement." Biopic News? Tupac Shakur Facebook Page Posts Cryptic Message on Upcoming "Special Announcement." Biopic News? Weekend B.O. Aug 21-23 (F. Gary Gray Becomes a Prominent Member of the $100 Million Black Directors Club) Weekend B.O. Aug 21-23 (F. Gary Gray Becomes a Prominent Member of the $100 Million Black Directors Club) Dr. Dre Issues Public Statement Apologizing for "The Women I’ve Hurt" Dr. Dre Issues Public Statement Apologizing for "The Women I’ve Hurt" Timely Brit Documentary 'The Hard Stop' Explores Life & Death of Mark Duggan + Riots That Followed (Trailer) Timely Brit Documentary 'The Hard Stop' Explores Life & Death of Mark Duggan + Riots That Followed (Trailer) Say Hello to Marvel's Newest Superhero - Moon Girl Say Hello to Marvel's Newest Superhero - Moon Girl 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... AFM News: Danny Glover, Derek Luke Will Play Prison Inmates In 3D Drama 'Long Day Journey' AFM News: Danny Glover, Derek Luke Will Play Prison Inmates In 3D Drama 'Long Day Journey'

Melvin Van Peebles Is 80 Years Old Today... The Master Provocateur Is Still Going Strong

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act August 21, 2012 at 10:42AM

Happy 80th birthday to Melvin Van Peebles - one of those milestone birthdays, for a man who directed, quite possibly, one of the most polarizing black films ever made, the 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.
2
melvin van peebles

Happy 80th birthday to Melvin Van Peebles - one of those milestone birthdays, for a man who directed, quite possibly, one of the most polarizing black films ever made, the 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.

You've all heard of the film I'm sure. If not, what the hell? Especially if you're over 21 years old.

It practically jump-started the whole Blaxploitation period of cinema (even though that certainly wasn't his intent with his film).

In consideration of his birthday, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Mr Van Peebles a few months ago, which lead to a piece I wrote a few weeks ago titled A Glimpse Into The Extraordinary Life That Belongs To Melvin Van Peebles. If you missed that post, you should read it HERE.

Also worth noting, TONIGHT, at 7:30pm, the legendary Melvin Van Peebles will celebrate his 80th birthday with a surprise-filled tribute at Film Forum in NYC.

Just call him a renaissance man - from an Air Force pilot, cable car gripman, novelist (author of five books... in French!), painter, sculptor, twice-Tony-nominated Broadway playwright, Wall Street trader, and more; he's been and done it all in his 80 years on this planet, and is seemingly still going strong.

At tonight's event, Mr Van Peebles will be interviewed onstage by filmmaker Joe Angio, director of How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It), the 2005 documentary on Van Peebles, in an evening interspersed with film clips and guaranteed surprises.

He will also perform his own band, Wid Laxative.

Admission to this special event is $12.50, $7 for Film Forum members.

However, I doubt that there are any tickets left. When we alerted you to this 10 days ago, you should have jumped on the opportunity then!

Up next for the man, keep your antennae up for a potential Broadway run of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song - A Hood Opera in the next year or so, with preparations being made for that to become a reality. As I was told, the plan is to premiere in New York in 2013.

And look for him in Tina Gordon Chism's feature directorial debut, We The Peeples, produced by Stephanie Allain. It's scheduled to be out in the spring of next year.

Happy 80th birthday Melvin Van Peebles! 

This article is related to: Melvin Van Peebles


Shadow & ActNewsletter