Beyond Blaxploitation: An Introduction

by Adam W. Hofbauer

In the ensuing decades, Blaxploitation came to dominate how the critical and viewing community saw and defined black cinema and, to some extent, black life itself in the 1970s. This is a story so pervasive that popular awareness, let alone discussion, of a wide range of other films by and about African-Americans has been nearly nonexistent. In the decades since the ’70s, Blaxploitation’s style of machismo evolved into an institutional obfuscation of all other black films from the era.

It would be pointless to condemn any Hollywood genre for providing a false vision of its era. The main production institutions of any national cinema, be they the sprawling Shaw Brothers compounds 1960’s Hong Kong or Bombay’s present-day dream factories, exist to create and sell myths. Verisimilitude is the work of iconoclasts, not studios. But few eras and demographics are so closely linked as African-Americans of the ’70s and Blaxploitation.

Click here for Adam’s full piece on the blaxploitation film movement and other African-American cinema in the ’70s.