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Com 315 week11.2

COM 315 Blaxploitation Film

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Com 315 week11.2

  1. 1. COM/ENG 315 History of the Motion Picture Week 13.2 11/17
  2. 2. Outline I. Journal discussion – Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Fassbinder 1974) II. African American Cinema III. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino 1994)
  3. 3. Journal discussion How does Fassbinders' film Ali:Fear Eats the Soul reflect tensions within German society?
  4. 4. African American Cinema A. A legacy of racist representation B. Important exceptions and milestones C. Satisfying imaging needs • Blaxploitation
  5. 5. A. A legacy of racist representation in Hollywood cinema From Blackface on - • 19th Century American minstrel shows, vaudeville, and early American Cinema • White performers used burnt cork or shoe polish to blacken skin, exaggerate lips, often wearing woolly wigs • played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide • denigrating caricatures Blackface Montage from Spike Lee's Bamboozled
  6. 6. B. Important exceptions and milestones - Oscar Micheaux (1984-1951) -born of former slaves -1st African-American Film- Maker Homesteader (1919) -44 films btw/1919-1948 -all black casts -middle class audiences -moved away from “Negro stereotypes”
  7. 7. B. Important exceptions and milestones - Paul Robeson (1998-1976) -11 films btw 1924-1942 -4 in US, 7 in England -strong male lead roles -Showboat (1936) -major box office attraction
  8. 8. B. Important exceptions and milestones - Dorothy Dandridge (1922-1965) -Carmen Jones (1954) -1st African American nominated “Best Actress” Academy Award
  9. 9. B. Important exceptions and milestones - Sidney Poitier (b. 1927) - Strong male lead - 1st African American to win Academy Award for “Best Actor” - Lillies of the Field (1963) - Top box office star in 1967 - To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; & Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
  10. 10. *Critique of Sidney Poitier - established the dominant characterization of the black hero in Hollywood film -succeeded in putting a black protagonist on screen but . . . - Poitier's roles were deprived of characteristics the black urban male identified with: • expressions of sexuality and violence • use of a black vernacular • a streetwise sensibility [*from Ed Guerrero's Framing Blackness (1993)]
  11. 11. C. Blaxploitation (background) During the Civil Rights Movement in 1950s and 60s: Southern Christian Leadership Conference, headed by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) advocated: • passive resistance • nonviolent protest . . . of segregation laws
  12. 12. C. Blaxploitation (background) -as frustrations grew people questioned nonviolence -in 1966 Stokely Carmichael became chair of SNCC (1966) -repudiated nonviolence -endorsed slogan “black power”
  13. 13. C. Blaxploitation Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song Dir. by Melvin Van Peebles (1971) “I wanted a victorious film. Where [urban blacks] could walk out standing tall instead of avoiding each other's eyes” (Melvin Van Peebles)
  14. 14. C. Blaxploitation Sweet Sweetback represented . . . “the viable, sexual, arrogant black male hero”(Ed Guerrero, Framing Blackness, 1982) -Super-masculine ideal • Sexual stamina • Stoicism
  15. 15. C. Blaxploitation Sweetback earned 10mil -expose Hollywood to niche market of African American audience -1967-1981 black youth dominated audience attendance
  16. 16. C. Blaxploitation Sweetback established the representational practices of black women and men that Hollywood would reproduce in the blaxploitation formula.
  17. 17. C. Blaxploitation -47 black oriented films btw 1970- 1973 -Formula: -pimp, gangster, or equally dangerous female counterparts, -romanticized ghetto setting or inner- city setting -who challenges the white system and wins.
  18. 18. C. Blaxploitation Shaft (1971) Superfly (1972) Cleopatra Jones The Mack (1972) Black Caesar (1973) Foxy Brown (1974)
  19. 19. C. Blaxploitation Critique -commodified the black imaging needs of black urban youth to a fixed product -reducing psychological dreams of black power into spectacles that emphasized: sex, drugs, violence, and crime -stunting the development of black political consciousness
  20. 20. Pulp Fiction & the blaxploitation hero Supercool | Sexually potent | bad-ass Does the character Jules, played by Samuel Jackson, revise or reaffirm the super-masculine ideal of the Blaxploitation hero (e.g. uses excessive brutality and violence to solve problems, is sexually assertive, and shows little to no emotion)?
  21. 21. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino 1994) 1) Given that Pulp Fiction can be seen as a representation of other representations - that is - a film quoting other films and references to pop culture, does Pulp Fiction reflect reality or detract from it? Explain. 2) Does the film's use of the "N" and "B" word make the film racist and sexist? Why or why not? Explain. 3) Does Jules revise or reaffirm the super masculine ideal of the Blaxploitation hero (e.g. uses brutality and violence to solve problems, is sexually assertive, and shows little to no emotion)? 4) Note the nonlinear events and how it effects the way you perceive the overall message of the movie. Is there an overall message? If yes, what is it?
  22. 22. HWK Watch Pulp Fiction and complete Journal #11 by Monday 11/22