Blaxploitation Films of the 1970s: Blackness and Genre by Novotny Lawrence

By Novotny Lawrence

During the early years of the movie undefined, black performers have been usually depicted as shuckin’ and jivin’ caricatures. particularly, black men have been portrayed as toms, coons and dollars, whereas the mammy and tragic mulatto archetypes circumscribed black femininity. This misrepresentation started to swap within the Nineteen Fifties and Sixties while performers similar to Dorothy Dandridge and Sidney Poitier have been forged in additional optimistic roles. those performers cleared the path for the black exploitation or blaxploitation circulate, which begun in 1970 and flourished till 1975. The stream is characterised through motion pictures that characteristic a black hero or heroine, black helping characters, a predominately black city surroundings, a demonstrate of black sexuality, over the top violence, and a latest rhythm and blues soundtrack. Blaxploitation motion pictures have been made throughout various genres, however the questionable components of a few of the photographs brought on them to be often called "blaxploitation" motion pictures with very little regard given to their well-known categorization. This ebook examines how Cotton involves Harlem (1970), Blacula (1972), The Mack (1973), and Cleopatra Jones (1973) should be categorised in the detective, horror, gangster, and cop motion genres, respectively, and illustrates the way within which the inclusion of "blackness" represents an important revision to the aforementioned genres.

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Additional resources for Blaxploitation Films of the 1970s: Blackness and Genre (Studies in African American History and Culture)

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These songs’ lyrics address social injustice and the desire of the Harlem residents to return to Africa. The film’s title track, “Cotton Comes to Harlem,” performed by George Tipton, further illustrates that cotton is symbolic of oppressive whiteness. The lyrics reflect the attitude that blacks held about Southern whites who implemented and perpetuated the system of chattel slavery. Down South, we sweat and strained, we were the prisoners of Cotton, but when cotton comes to Harlem, we kick cotton’s ass.

These films profited from both black and white audiences and effectively eliminated the need for Hollywood to continue producing films targeted specifically toward blacks. Although blaxploitation films clearly reflect the genrification process, the films were castigated and all but forgotten once the blockbuster emerged as a profitable and viable form of entertainment. However, the purpose of this book is to establish the films within traditional Hollywood genres. Variation or the addition of a new element is essential in expanding the generic corpus.

The participation of these companies and a host of others established the blaxploitation movement as an industry-wide phenomenon. Finally, Altman concludes his examination of the generic process noting: “Once a genre is recognized and practised throughout the industry, individual studios have no further economic interest in practising it as such (especially in their prestige productions); instead; they seek to create new cycles by associating a new type of material or approach with an existing genre, thus initiating a new round of genrification” (62).

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