Monday, August 27, 2007
From Art to Exploitation
As an impressionable young middle schooler, I spent countless weekends perusing the Super Action section of my local Blockbuster. Here I discovered a world I became obsessed with. A world of inner-city struggle for countless African-Americans in the bleak and occasionally optimistic 1970s. They were films made by blacks for blacks with no regard to what wealthy white America thought. But I feel the film industry is now truly blaxploiting African-Americans.
The movies I grew up loving were gritty and dark and dealt with social issues like rampant drug use, racial tension between blacks and whites, and the Devil's family struggles. They were true indie films with only a lucky few getting adequate funding. They turned charismatic actors like Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, and Jim Kelly into stars, and not just among black communities. These groundbreaking films oozed cool, and easily had the funkiest soundtracks white people ever heard.
Today, there is a new type of blaxploitation. One that exploits blacks more than ever and lacks all the honesty the 70s films fought to convey. The recent film Who's Your Caddie? has a few African-Americans attempting to gain membership into a whiter-than-white country club. But each character perpetuates stereotypes I'm sure most people would like to dispel. I'm sure those involved with this film would like to think they're empowering African-Americans by having black heroes, but the jokes and observations never get past the surface stuff we're already aware of. And worst of all, Hollywood is luring talented people like Cedric the Entertainer of Big Boi of Outkast to star in these films. Who's Your Caddie? is counteracting the intelligent social commentary Big Boi and Andre 3000 have brought to mainstream America. Hollywood is trying to get all the money it can out of black-America while being more racist than ever before.
I'm sure most of you haven't seen Who's Your Caddie?, so keep not watching it. Though if you're looking for something interesting, raw, and at first a little strange, I advise you to find a Super Action section wherever you can. It might not be a genre you'll fall in love with, but I doubt you'll watch anything more indie anytime soon.