Blog Post 4: Activism in Blaxploitation

Research question: As a pro-black empowerment activist movement, did Blaxploitation succeed?

In the early 1970s, factors such as the growing popularity of the television and suburbanization were hurting the film industry. In order to save itself, the white-dominated industry began to focus on making profits off of a majority urban population that they had previously ignored: black Americans. This resulted in a genre and era of films known as Blaxploitation. Blaxploitation films typically revolved around edgy, supposedly authentic black men kicking ass against their white oppressors in gritty urban landscapes. Though initially these films re-defined what was acceptable for black characters on the screen, they quickly began to mold new stereotypes, and as the majority of the profits went to white studio workers, were inherently exploitative. Still, these films created a new window of opportunity for black artists and showed the film industry that black americans were a people worth paying attention to. Furthermore, blaxploitation films took back the ever-opressed manhood of black American men, reflected a culture that black Americans finally felt was their own, and initiated a tradition of pushing the idea of blackness into the mainstream. Though controversial, and often contradictory, ultimately the genre of blaxploitation  was successful as an activist movement.

One thought on “Blog Post 4: Activism in Blaxploitation”

  1. This looks like it’s become a really cool topic! I like that you’ve narrowed it down to Blaxploitation. I’m curious about what was actually going on in the minds of the folks who planned these films – was it all just profitmongering with an untapped audience? (and if so, is it really activism? Is it accidentally) Conversely, was there some goal to change the existing stereotypes in anybody’s mind? I think you could also put together a good conclusion talking about where that stereotype that blaxploitation pushed has gone since then in film. Has it gotten replaced with something else, are we more free of stereotypes, or does that same stereotype still show up today?


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