To say that I am not a fan of Black Friday could really be the definition of the word “understatement”. I’m not going to get into all the reasons for that here, because if you feel the same way I do, then you already understand most of them, and if you’re a huge fan of the day who was out there at 2am waiting for the stores to open, well… as always, if that’s your thing, more power to ya.
Anyway, I was thinking about the day and about the exploitation movie piece that I’m working on, and the thought occurred to me, why not combine the two and celebrate something I can get behind?
Therefore, I am declaring today Blaxploitation Friday.
Now I know there are probably quite a few of you out there who may not be familiar with the term “Blaxploitation”, especially those of you who were born in the late 80s and after. Again, I’m not going to go into a lot of the background and detail of the genre. Instead for now I’ll simply say that it was an offshoot or subgenre of the exploitation films that were popular during the 70s.
The Blaxploitation movies themselves were initially made specifically for urban audiences, but after a while, they moved beyond that and gained at least a certain amount of appeal with a broader audience, reaching beyond racial and ethnic lines. One thing that I will note for my younger audience is that this occurred during a time before the huge megaplexes when different neighborhoods would have their own local theaters in which they would show movies that they felt would appeal to the audiences that were close to them, as opposed to today when it seems like almost every movie is made in a way that it needs to reach as broad an audience as possible. Of course, that’s a generalization, and there are still certain movies that are made in order to appeal to a specific demographic, but today those are more the exception than the rule.
I could go into a lot more detail about the history and thought behind the blaxploitation movies and movement, but I think I’ll save that for another time. Instead,for today, forthose of you who are curious or who want to know more before diving into some of the trailers that I’ve selected to help you with your Blaxploitation Friday celebration, I’ll invite you to check out this documentary which features Quentin Tarantino, Samuel Jackson, critic Elvis Mitchell, Melvin Van Peebles, Pam Grier, Fred Williamson, and many others, which points out that despite the perhaps perceived negative connotation of the phrases “exploitation” and “blaxploitation”, these films were actually largely seen by their intended audience as empowering and positive, not only against the oppression of the times, and as part of the black power movement, but also against the negativity and ambitiousness of many of the “mainstream” movies coming out of Hollywood at the time. Also it spends a lot of time discussing the reaction of people, both black and white, at the time, and brings it forward to today.
One further thing I will note, however is that if you are at all a fan of soul and/or funk music, I highly recommend checking out the soundtracks to some of these movies, which are a great source of that 70s sound.
Okay, from here on out, I’m just going to let the trailers do the talking. I do feel like I should note ahead of time that these movies and their trailers are definitely a product of their time, and should be considered NSFW, nor should those of you who are offended by politically incorrect dialogue or images watch them. There is a reason that these were called “exploitation” films, and those reasons are very much on display here. You have been warned.
So, with that said, let’s take a look at some trailers, shall we?