Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Weekend B.O. Oct.17-19 - How Did 'Dear White People' Do and What Might it Mean? Weekend B.O. Oct.17-19 - How Did 'Dear White People' Do and What Might it Mean? Trailer Debut: 'Black Dynamite' Season 2 Arrives Trailer Debut: 'Black Dynamite' Season 2 Arrives Review: 'Mike Tyson Mysteries' Proves That Iron Mike Isn't Afraid to Dress Himself Down Review: 'Mike Tyson Mysteries' Proves That Iron Mike Isn't Afraid to Dress Himself Down Donald Glover Adds to Growing Film Slate - Joins Cast of Ridley Scott's Sci-Fi Thriller 'The Martian' Donald Glover Adds to Growing Film Slate - Joins Cast of Ridley Scott's Sci-Fi Thriller 'The Martian' It All Started at a BSU Meeting: Justin Simien on 'Dear White People', Raven-Symoné, and the Black Art House (Interview) It All Started at a BSU Meeting: Justin Simien on 'Dear White People', Raven-Symoné, and the Black Art House (Interview) Warner Bros Reveals Details on Its 10 DC Comics Film Adaptations. Will Include a Cyborg Movie Starring Ray Fisher Warner Bros Reveals Details on Its 10 DC Comics Film Adaptations. Will Include a Cyborg Movie Starring Ray Fisher T.I. Teases His 'Ant-Man' Role - "I Play a Superhero's Homeboy" T.I. Teases His 'Ant-Man' Role - "I Play a Superhero's Homeboy" Lifetime Releases First FULL Trailer for 'Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B' (Premieres Saturday, 11/15) Lifetime Releases First FULL Trailer for 'Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B' (Premieres Saturday, 11/15) Steve McQueen Goes With Newcomer Devon Terrell to Play the Lead in His HBO Project Steve McQueen Goes With Newcomer Devon Terrell to Play the Lead in His HBO Project Sean Penn Puts Post-Earthquake Haiti In Focus In New Feature Doc 'Haiti Untold' - Now Streaming on Netflix Sean Penn Puts Post-Earthquake Haiti In Focus In New Feature Doc 'Haiti Untold' - Now Streaming on Netflix In Wake of 'Gotham' Controversy Comes 'Painted Down' - New Doc Chronicling Struggles & Hard Fought Victories of Black Stunt People In Wake of 'Gotham' Controversy Comes 'Painted Down' - New Doc Chronicling Struggles & Hard Fought Victories of Black Stunt People TV One Airs First-Ever Original, Scripted Work of Horror - Trilogy Titled 'The Fright Night Files' TV One Airs First-Ever Original, Scripted Work of Horror - Trilogy Titled 'The Fright Night Files' 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) ABC Is Making Changes To The Next-Day Online Availability Of Its Series ABC Is Making Changes To The Next-Day Online Availability Of Its Series 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...

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