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70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception
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70s9. Blaxploitation's Context and Reception

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  • 1. US Cinema of the 1970s: Blaxploitation’s Context & Reception Prof. Julia Leyda September 10, 2013
  • 2. quiz What is Sweetback doing during most of the movie? Describe his most common activities. Why does he do these things all through the movie?
  • 3. blaxploitation  cycle of cheaply made, black-cast action movies set in the ghetto, released between 1969-74  exploitation movies:  sensational, often trashy B-movies aimed at a particular audience, designed to earn money  often extremely violent or sexual  includes blaxploitation, sexploitation, splatter films  black + action + exploitation = blaxploitation
  • 4. blaxploitation formula  started with Sweetback and Shaft  tough black man fights against the corrupt, racist white system and wins in the end  action movie: fight scenes and chase scenes, showing the superiority of the hero against cruel, stupid white villains  emphasis on fashion, music, ―cool‖ hero(ine)
  • 5. Sweet Sweetback’s Baad Asssss Song (1971)  not much story, but lots of music, action, sex, and fighting and chase scenes (too much?)  rated X ―by an all-white jury‖  portrays ―real‖ black ghetto life and people (?)  macho black man gets angry, beats up cops, and wins in the end, no more non-violence  made by auteur Melvin Van Peebles: writer, director, producer, composer, editor, star  scared white people
  • 6. contexts of blaxploitation 1. growing political and social consciousness among black Americans 2. outspoken criticism of Hollywood’s images of black people 3. economic crisis in Hollywood
  • 7. 1. political and social consciousness  1960s white flight and urban life: crime, drugs, police brutality, poverty, (also countercultures and liberation movements)  assassinations: John F. Kennedy in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy in 1968  riots: Watts and 298 cities from 1967-68  Black Power movement and Black Panther Party iconography—anger
  • 8. black power rhetoric
  • 9. (male) black power rhetoric and sex
  • 10. Sweetback framed by chainlink fence
  • 11. split screen ELS
  • 12. frame with text
  • 13. 2. criticism of black images in movies  impatience with ―ebony saint‖ Sidney Poitier’s gentle, integrationist image  some improvement in the macho athlete characters of the 60s: tough, strong, but controlled by whites  but still, movies didn’t show black themes, issues, or communities—only isolated individuals surrounded by whites
  • 14. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967)
  • 15. urban landscape: freeways
  • 16. urban landscape: oil well
  • 17. ―real‖ black: direct camera address
  • 18. ―real‖ black: direct camera address
  • 19. ―real‖ black: children
  • 20. iconography: afro, direct address
  • 21. iconography: burning cop car
  • 22. noir lighting: policeman
  • 23. text warning to the Man
  • 24. 3. economic crisis in Hollywood  driven only by short-term profit, conservative industry won’t change unless forced to  blacks were 10-15% of US population, but 30% of moviegoers in top theaters (first-run, city)  Hollywood saw easy money in the formula of Sweetback, an independent movie with a $500,000 budget that grossed $10,000,000
  • 25. ―rated X by an all-white jury‖
  • 26. blaxploitation auteur
  • 27. noir city: superimposed images
  • 28. noir city: strip clubs, porn
  • 29. color effects: oil well
  • 30. silhouette superimposition
  • 31. iconography: low-angle shaky camera
  • 32. superimpositions
  • 33. criticism of blaxploitation  replaced old stereotypes with new ones?  objectified and undeveloped female characters  romanticizes poverty and the ghetto  hero is ahistorical, individualist acting in panic or desperation—no sense of community or politics  similar to other gritty urban dramas with white heroes (French Connection, Dirty Harry)  ―F***ing will not set you free.‖ –Lerone Bennett’s 1971 Ebony magazine essay
  • 34. Coffy (1973) with Pam Grier
  • 35. positive outcomes of blaxploitation  portrayed the ―realities‖ of life in the ghetto  provoked active debate of black representation and involvement in Hollywood  gave black audiences black heroes (and heroines) in mostly black contexts  inspired later generations of black auteurs: Spike Lee, Mario Van Peebles, John Singleton (and Quentin Tarantino)
  • 36. discussion questions  What was your reaction to Sweetback at first? What do you think of it after learning more about blaxploitation? Why?  In what ways did images of blacks in blaxploitation movies improve on the old stereotypes? In what ways did they create new stereotypes?  How do you think these movies look to today’s audiences?  How does Sweetback compare to previous movies we’ve seen: Chinatown, Taxi Driver,

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