What are Blaxploitation movies?
Blaxploitation (mix of the words “black” and “exploitation”) is the ethnic subgenre of the exploitation film, which emerged in United States in the 1970s. These movies were mostly done by black directors with black heroes and became the first style to use soul and funk music. The urban black population was the movies original target, however the audience of the genre soon had broadened across the ethnic and racial lines.
From the gangster movie to the horror film, the western or the comedy, these movies covered almost all the subgenres and gave them an Afro-American touch for a new cinematographic experience.
The opinion was divided on the topic of Blaxploitation. While some saw it as a token of black empowerment, some said the movies were perpretating stereotypes about the black people. It is interesting to note that the anti-blaxploitation position was represented by some of the most influential Afro-American association,
Nevertheless, despite a pretty short existence to its pinnacle, Blaxploitation movies had a crucial influence on American cinema. For instance, Quentin Tarantino himself often affirm that Blaxploitation is one of his prime influences for his movies.
Whatever the context, the hero is a strong and brave black protagonist who overcomes the odds of the white oppression around him to achieve great deeds. Sometimes the hero will raise from his poor condition to become rich and influent, sometimes he will help his brothers and sisters and get revenge fighting a corrupted and racist system, anyway these movies break the movie codes by putting a black succesful protagonist at the center of their story.
Here are some of the famous movies that you should't miss if you're interested in the subgenre:
The Mack—this movie is one of the best films of the decade. It is the classic for the player’s ball alone. So, if you want to know what the real game is, you can take lessons and try asking yourself “who’s the Mack”.
Coffy—this movie was the breakout role of Pam Grier wherein he had her blowing and seducing role. She was a local drug pusher in order to find the one who is responsible for the selling of the bad dope of her sister.
Disco Godfather—this movie is about the retired cop, who became a DJ and brings down the local PCP kingpin. This movie was notable for the indulging DJs’ delusions of the grandeur and their fantasies of the inhaling angel dust using a gas mask.
Shaft—this is about the cool black private eye, John Shaft, who is hired by a crime lord in order to retrieve and find the kidnapped daughter.
Boss Nigger—this was the fusion of the westerns and Blaxploitation that marked a huge hit in the industry.
Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde—this movie is about the black doctor that has racial identity issues and a grudge against the sex trade who tests an experimental serum on himself and becomes the white hooker-killing monster.
Blackenstein—the movie is about the black Vietnam veteran who undergoes an unusual “DNA” surgery in order to reattach his lost limbs. However, the surgery goes wrong and monster similar to Frankenstein was created that soon goes to the killing rampage.
Cleopatra Jones—this movie shows more about Cleo Jones, a drug prosecution agent with high fashion. She takes into shrill, her gang about drug-pushing crackers and fat cave bitch Mommy.
Dolemite—This movie is the first Blaxploitation parody and was a great commercial success due to his main protagonist, the martial-artist pimp Dolemite.
A lot of the Blaxploitation movies are now considered cult classics, like The Mack or Superfly. With their diversity and the change of tone they brought to the table, the had an oustanding influence on the American Culture and defined some of the codes movies still use todays.
Whether you think these movies were great or that they conveys stereotypes on the Black people, you must recognize that Blaxploitation helped to give a central role to the black prople in the American society. Celebrate the diversity and the creativity of the Black Culture by wearing one of our Blaxploitation T-shirts!