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Blaxploitation Films (List)

 What is Blaxploitation?


The birth name was uttered from the mouth of journalist and one-time NAACP head Junius Griffin interviewed by Variety Magazine tagging what he believed were negative portrayals in the film “Superfly” (1972). So how is Blaxploitation defined? Blaxploitation films are films that are generally marketed towards Black audiences. These films put Black audiences in a position on embracing films that may portray Blacks in a negative manner. By the literal terms “Black” and “Exploitation”, means blacks being exploited. So essentially most Black films ever made could be considered Blaxploitation, but in particular the term was reserved for Black themed films during the 1970s or exploitation era.

Not every Black film or film that stars a Black actor is a Blaxploitation film. There are certain characteristics that we consider and certain films that set standards. While "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)" is considered the first Blaxploitation film in the eyes of many, it's not the first of its' kind. Exploitation films in general started to surge in the 1960s. Conservative film making in Hollywood took a turn for the more unmentionable films that would magnify sex, violence, horror, and discrimination. The Civil Rights Era of Black themed films introduced some of these exploitative factors. Early example of Blaxploitation films:



Genres, themes, and marketing are the top three characteristics we consider in defining a film as Blaxploitation. Top genres include crime, action, drama and comedy. Other popular genres and themes with fewer amount of films include horror, thriller western, sexploitation, and slavery. There are other genres included, but these films were not made in abundance; biography, history, music, sports.

Characteristics of Blaxplotiation film become a little more subjective to the viewer. Typical Blaxploitation films includes an all-Black cast accompanied by a dedicated soundtrack performed by some of the more popular funk and soul artist of the 70s. Films like The Mack, Let’s Do it Again, Claudine, Across 110th Street, Black Caesar, Foxy Brown, Black Belt Jones, The Spook Who Sat By The Door, and Shaft are some of the standard Blaxploitation films. These films featured some of the biggest African-American actors in Hollywood. They were highly sought out for their talent and popularity which helped surge the market in the mid 70s (see graphic below).

Here is a blaxploitation chart for the movies released by year. It is clear that the blaxploitation era is between 1964 and 1979. So from this point forward any movies released before 1970, but still holds the context of blaxploitation will be classified as the "pre-blaxploitation era" and any movies released after 1979 under the context of blaxploitation will be classified as the "post-blaxploitation era." This will definitely help clean up the definition of blaxploitation and not over simplify the genre. I will provide further details on black cinema in general as I continue to research.

Sub genres of Blaxplotiation films

List of films during the Blaxploitation Era
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Visit the Museum of Black Cult Cinema for additional information and digital media.