Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
James Franco Will Direct Film Based on Aziah "Zola" Wells' 148-Tweet Narrative That Went Viral James Franco Will Direct Film Based on Aziah "Zola" Wells' 148-Tweet Narrative That Went Viral Regarding 'Song of the South' – The Film That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See Regarding 'Song of the South' – The Film That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See Watch Mekhi Phifer in Trailer for "First-Person Shooter" Zombie Thriller, 'Pandemic' Watch Mekhi Phifer in Trailer for "First-Person Shooter" Zombie Thriller, 'Pandemic' HBO Sets April Premiere Date for 'Confirmation' HBO Sets April Premiere Date for 'Confirmation' Watch the Electrifying First Trailer for Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Watch the Electrifying First Trailer for Don Cheadle's 'Miles Ahead' Watch: Tyler Perry Previews 'The Passion' 2-Hour Musical Event in New Orleans Watch: Tyler Perry Previews 'The Passion' 2-Hour Musical Event in New Orleans Before Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett's 2003 Documentary Before Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film Is Released, Get Prepped By Watching Charles Burnett's 2003 Documentary There Is a Precedent for the "DuVernay Test" to Consider... There Is a Precedent for the "DuVernay Test" to Consider... Idris Elba Makes SAG Awards History + Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah Collect Trophies Idris Elba Makes SAG Awards History + Viola Davis, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah Collect Trophies Ryan Coogler to Deliver Prestigious University of Chicago Kent Lecture Feb. 9 Ryan Coogler to Deliver Prestigious University of Chicago Kent Lecture Feb. 9 First-Look at David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike in Amma Asante's 'A United Kingdom' First-Look at David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike in Amma Asante's 'A United Kingdom' Poster: Mike Epps, Paul Mooney, Charlie Murphy Comedy-Thriller 'Meet the Blacks' Poster: Mike Epps, Paul Mooney, Charlie Murphy Comedy-Thriller 'Meet the Blacks' Watch: OWN Previews New Primetime Series 'It's Not You, It's Men' (Tyrese Gibson & Rev Run Host) Watch: OWN Previews New Primetime Series 'It's Not You, It's Men' (Tyrese Gibson & Rev Run Host) First Look at Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film, 'The Birth of a Nation' First Look at Nate Parker's Nat Turner Film, 'The Birth of a Nation' TV One Aims to Change the Reality Genre with New Series, 'The Next 15' TV One Aims to Change the Reality Genre with New Series, 'The Next 15' Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton Is Heading to TV Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton Is Heading to TV Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? Why Was Janet Hubert (Aunt Viv) Really Replaced on 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'? 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... Denzel Washington Reveals Daughter Is In 'Django Unchained' + Roles He Regrets Rejecting Denzel Washington Reveals Daughter Is In 'Django Unchained' + Roles He Regrets Rejecting

Video: Reel Soul on "Blaxploitation"

Shadow and Act By Monique | Shadow and Act March 16, 2012 at 9:29AM

“We must rid ourselves of the habit, now that we are in the thick of the fight, of minimizing the actions of our fathers or of feigning incomprehension when considering their silence and passivity.  They fought as well as they could, with the arms they possessed then.”
2
Reel Soul

“We must rid ourselves of the habit, now that we are in the thick of the fight, of minimizing the actions of our fathers or of feigning incomprehension when considering their silence and passivity.  They fought as well as they could, with the arms they possessed then.”


- Frantz Fanon “The Wretched of the Earth”


This webisode of Reel Soul takes a look at the “Action” Genre and as it turns out, both of our selections came from the Blaxploitation era.  That era of Black film is a complicated one from almost any vantage point one wishes to take. For some, it was a powerful response from a populace informed by both the Black Power movement and the Black Arts Movement, demanding to see themselves represented onscreen. The studio system had collapsed and producers, in a panic to attract moviegoers, took note of the epic box office generated by the Black community in support of Van Peebles “Sweetback”.

Several more films were swiftly put together and produced and though they tended to revolve around depictions of pimps, drug dealers and other inhabitants of the “sporting life” they were immensely popular with Black audiences.  This despite the fact that they were mostly written and directed by Caucasian men and almost all of them showcased exaggerated, sometimes cartoonish sexuality and violence (the salt and ketchup of cinema).  There were some gems amongst them though, including “Claudine”, “Cooley High” and “Superfly”, a film that, in my opinion, is one of the most misunderstood and unfairly maligned films in American cinema history.  But no matter, a powerful group consisting of the NAACP, The Urban League, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and several Black film professionals formed the Coalition against Blaxploitation and they were ultimately successful in shutting them down.
While watching a documentary titled “Black Hollywood:Blaxploitation and Advancing an Independent Black Cinema” I heard several Black film professionals lamenting the end of that era.  While acknowledging some of the problems, they gave voice to another problem: once the Blaxpo era ended, Black folks were largely absent from cinema (both in front of and behind the camera) until Spike Lee and a few years after the New Jack era ushering in another fertile period for Black filmmaking.

My question is, are we now in another Black Exploitation era ?  Films like “Precious” are what I call “poverty porn”, the type that Barbara Bush will organize a personal screening of.  Or “The Blind Side” with a poster of Sandra Bullock out walking her Negro ( at least he wasn’t magical).  Or “The Help” with Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer lending their undeniable talent to humanizing yet another Black maid in stories designed to reassure the good white folks of just how far we’ve come since then.  And of course there is the peculiar institution of Tyler Perry, the most financially successful Black filmmaker of our time.

What can we learn from studying the Black exploitation era , and if history is repeating itself, are we fighting as well as we can with the arms that we possess ?

Peace,

Vaun Monroe

This article is related to: Reel Soul, Vaun Monroe


Shadow & ActNewsletter