Popular Film - Blaxploitation an analysis of Shaft

Essay by Ghetto_SmurfUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, October 2004

download word file, 8 pages 4.1

Between 1970 and 1980 there was a cultural film explosion, there were over 200 films released by major and independent studios that hyped major black characters and themes. Prior to the Blaxploitation era black actors had been relinquished to playing small parts that usually presented stereotyped images of the black race with roles such as waitresses or shoeshine boys. This however all changed when in 1971 when the first successful black film "Sweetback's Baadasss Song" showed a black man coming out on top over the white establishment. The term blaxploitation both helped and destroyed the genre. While many blaxploitation films were box office successes, they also fueled the public's perception of blacks as cold-hearted heroes, gangsters, drug dealers, pimps and thugs. Black actors were being exploited by playing these roles (Washington, 2000).

Who's the black private dick that's a sex machine to all the chicks? (Shaft!) You're damn right who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother man? (Shaft!) Can ya dig it? You see this cat Shaft is a bad mother-- (Shut your mouth) But I'm talkin' about Shaft (Then we can dig it) He's a complicated man but no one understands him but his woman (John Shaft) (Hayes, 2000).

Shaft was originally released in 1971 and became a significant hit, proving instrumental in opening the doors for other films such as "Superfly" and "The Mack" (Gleiberman, 2000). Shaft is famous for many things - the boom in blaxploitation films, the invention of badass black attitude and the ultimate rhythm and blues score (Briggs, 2003). With the original Shaft being such a success in the year 2000, John Singleton directed the updated version of the movie which he co wrote with Shane Slaerno and Richard Price. Shaft, directed by Singleton is not a...