One of the most explored genres in black cinema is Blaxploitation. This type of cinema, originating in the early 70s, was aimed at black people, shot on minimal budget with more black input than most movies at the time. All the leading characters were black with whites confined to marginal roles or cast as corrupt, morally bankrupt adversaries to be overcome by a black star. This pattern continued in front and behind the screen. Directors such as Melvin Van Peebles insisted that fifty per cent of his crew were ethnic minorities from either Latin American or African American backgrounds. Van Peebles wanted to completely move away from any white influence and even declined a three picture deal with a major studio to independently work on his most well-known film, Sweet Sweetback’s Baadaass Song as recognised by Lerone Bennett in his article The Emancipation Orgasm: Sweetback in Wonderland.
The protagonist of Blaxploitation movies has been labelled as ‘The Superspade’, a strong fearless black male, who triumphs over all enemies. (Verney, 2000, p.56), Verney discusses the characteristics of the ‘Superspade’ in detail highlighting the high sexual activity the ‘Superspade’ possesses, amongst black and white women’. (Verney, 2000, p.66) This character is portrayed perfectly in Gordon parks Jr.’s Superfly.
The term ‘blaxploitation’, a combination of black and exploitation, was coined by Junius Griffin, the head of the Los Angeles NAACP who along with various pressure groups and members of the black community believed the genre provided poor role models and dangerously glorified pimps, drug dealers and hustlers.
The films mostly associated with this genre by scholars are Shaft and Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song which both became cult movies. With resurgence in the 1990’s, the debate over whether these films should be defined as exploitative or empowering continues amongst scholars with either side offering a strong defence....