Blaxploitation films don’t get the accolades they deserve from some movie junkies and cinema historians, so for the second year in a row, we’re going to feature the films of the genre and the actors who made them as our contribution to Black HIstory Month.
Well, kind of.
The fact that Black History Month is February, the shortest month of the year, has been lamented by many since its first official national observance in 1976, and there are those, like Morgan Freeman, who find the entire concept of it to be ridiculous.
We really don’t give two shits about any of that here at Acid Pop Cult, and we really have no stance on that issue.
We’re just glad Black History Month is around so we have a good excuse to focus on a genre of films that are too often overlooked, mocked, or even called racist by people of various racial backgrounds. Whether it’s gripes about the fact Black History Month is only 28 days, the alleged hero worship that accompanies it, or even its very existence at all, Black History Month faces the same kind of criticism blaxploitation films faced before it.
Depending on which social circles one runs in, to this day just saying the word blaxploitation is enough to make people uncomfortable. This portmanteau has the explosive power of TNT, baby, and therein lies some of the genre’s charm.
While there is a definite political element to the genre given its rise to popularity coming so shortly after the nation emerged from decades of civil unrest over race relations, and the plots so frequently about defeating The Man, we can’t forget these were made for primarily for entertainment purposes.
This is how the films of the genre came to be: Some people got together, wrote a script, convinced some other people who had money that audiences would like it, then put a cast and crew together, made the movie, released it, and hoped like hell it would make a profit when it made its rounds at independent movie theaters.
They were just like any other movie, only the filmmakers, at least at first, focused on bringing black audiences to the theaters. The plan worked. It eventually worked so well the films’ reach expanded well beyond the target audience.
Those filmmakers made some money, and left behind a legacy of often outrageous exploitation films for fans to enjoy for decades to come.
Beginning last year, we decided to make sure this fact is not forgotten by piggy-backing Black HIstory Month with Acid Pop Cult’s Blaxploitation Month.
This year, we’re ripping off ESPN’s 30 For 30 series of sports documentaries, with our own 28 For 28: Legends of Blaxploitation series of posts for the website. And yeah, we have to admit, we kind of ripped off Shit Movie Fest and their 25 Days of Shitmas too, but don’t tell anybody.
Every day this month, we will feature a different actor from the blaxploitation era. This year, we also making it a point to focus on blaxploitation actors not named Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree, Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, or Ron O’neal. We’re going to dig a little deeper than that and focus primarily on those low-A, high-B level actors who helped those actors attain superstar status.
It’s going to be fun … fun for everyone but the guy who has to write all of them.
Check out this video of Michael Jai White and Arsenio Hall talking about the impact blaxploitation had on Hollywood while promoting the modern-day blaxploitation classic, Black Dynamite.