Blaxploitation Essays

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To watch a Blaxploitation movie is to leave the theater or your home screen with the feeling that the world is absolutely black.

Blaxploitation’s legacy of images and representations are not easily suitable for either structuring a revolutionary agenda or for pleasing the sensibility of the white liberal left’s search for the thematization of social problems.

What this production does offer our contemporary audiences, specially the works released between 1970 and 75 [2], is a revenge cinema that maneuvers the restraint and the release of rage.

It’s no coincidence that these characters are the embodiment of cool, for to be cool in the racial landscape of the United States is to negotiate being a threat.

As Questlove has precisely pointed in a seminal essay, What if the mask is lifted and the heat released?

That threat can be physical or sexual or intellectual, but it’s always felt.

His coolness allows him to navigate between the brothers and the white establishment, as well as operate independently from the mechanisms of power and control.

Both real and imagined, he’s a superhero made of flesh, bones and especially color – black.

The mainstream film journalists and critics are broadly unaware of their existence and online film criticism don’t find them interesting enough to engage in lines of battle.

Militants and activists tend to see only their surface, rejecting the Blaxploitation heroes and heroines because they don’t fit in a stricter understanding of the struggle against racial oppression.


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