Black Exploitation in Film. Essay

1788 Words Mar 5th, 2013 8 Pages
Representation in Shaft


This essay will look at two main points on representation, in a pre-determined ten-minute clip of Shaft, firstly cultural representation which in this case is focused on the emergence of the Blaxploitation (Black-exploitation) genre. Then the representation of women and how their gender status affects the film’s narrative, and characters and how the film portrayed both points.
1971 found the emergence of successful Afro-American film producers such as Gordon Parks (1912-2006) with Shaft (1971) and Melvin Van Peebles with his earlier release of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), between them ushering the start of a new film genre, Blaxploitation. With Shaft being “amongst the twenty
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Although this wouldn’t have been noted, merely considered as a normal situation, aside from this and that she is merely a bored waitress, negligible towards her job and her customers. It is the stereotyping again that is obvious with it being herself who unwittingly defuses potential hostilities between the two men, as women are often considered to be able to both insight and defuse violent situations as a gender stereotype. With “gender stereotypes in this country have remained largely stable since the early 1970s” (Weiten W & Lloyd M A (2006) Phycology applied to Modern Life: Adjustment in the 21st Century, p.305), American audience of any cultural background would not have noticed these slight nuances in the narrative.

What is the significance of a black female hostage?

A notable point in Shaft is the fact the hostage is a young black woman, as opposed to it being a young white female. So while it still holds to the whole ‘damsel in distress’ cliché, that stereotype is normally taken by a vulnerable white female with Hollywood studios.

The empowered black heroine.

Although still playing the role of the meek female character, the connotation of her being black is enough to speak volumes to her cultural value in the film, which could be argued that it gave rise to the proud, empowered black heroine in other Blaxploitation movies,

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