A Film History

Analyze any film of your choosing as an example of the Blaxploitation subgenre, giving specific examples of how it borrows from, and “exploits” the characteristics of other popular film genres of the time period. Does the film function as an example of Stam and Spence’s notion of naïve integrationism, or does it leverage Hollywood structures to create its own diverse representation of black identity? Notes to use below Exploitation films are typically defined as low budget, crudely produced films that seek financial success by exploiting a current trend in culture. As a “fusion of two different words – black and exploitation,” the blaxplotation genre emerges in the 1970s as a way of giving African American communities a cinematic presence (Rausch, 185). Films were largely directed by, for, and about African Americans, and centered on prominent cultural issues of the time (poverty, crime, miscegenation, racial injustice, etc.). Coffy (1973) Blaxploitation films Blaxploitation films Blaxploitation films borrow from, and extend out into various genres, including crime/gangster, action, martial arts, westerns, horror, and musicals. Black Caeser (1973) Protagonists are powerful, charismatic, and seductive black characters who antagonize dominant culture, departing from the “constant barrage of submissive black characters” depicted in Hollywood narratives (ibid, 188). Combining styles and genres this way helped to develop a sense of solidarity between the colonized subjects of the world, and the burgeoning Black Power movement in the United States. Black Belt Jones (1974) Some critics argue that blaxploitation films have the tendency to slip into “naïve integrationism, ” and can be problematic if they simply reverse stereotypes by creating “ new heroes or heroines, this time drawn from the ranks of the oppressed, into the old functional roles that were themselves oppressive” (Stam and Spence, 239, 41). Blaxploitation films A contrary perspective contends that rather than exploiting the African American community, blaxploitation films are subversive because they take advantage of Hollywood’ s wealth to stage narratives that critique Hollywood structures, and depict diverse representations of Otherness. Super Fly (1972) Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song (1971) Shaft Directed by Gordon Parks Written by Ernest Tidyman & John D.F. Black MGM (1971) 100 mins. Blaxploitation films

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