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Blaxploitation

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"He's black. He's brutal. He's Boss."
Trailer, Boss Nigger
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The term Blaxploitation refers to a film genre, quite popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, in which the hero or heroes are black, and they have to fight some sort of battle, engage some enemy or otherwise solve some problem in ways involving violence, intimidation, or extreme action skills. It was coined by the NAACP when it was denouncing it for what it considered a negative image for African-Americans.

The pivotal point of this genre is that the main character's most significant attribute is the color of his (or her) skin, as well as stereotypical attributes associated with it at the time, such as intimidating appearance, being "naturally predisposed" towards independence, lack of respect for authority, utter disregard of manners and formalism, preference for violent solutions over diplomacy and unquestionable badassery.

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Typically the main character was a good guy such as the title character in Shaft, but in some cases he was an Anti-Hero, such as Priest, the drug dealer in SuperFly who wants to do one more deal and retire.

Some of the tropes exposed include:

The Trope Maker/Ur-Example of this genre is either Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) or The Black Klansman (1966). Note that unless indicated, if a movie is mentioned below, it's referring to the original 1970s/1980s version, and not to any subsequent remake under the same name. The Blaxploitation genre fell out of favor roughly around 1976, mainly due to the aforementioned concerns from African American civil rights groups.

See also Blaxploitation Parody. Hood Film is a similar genre that emerged in the late 1980s as a more socially conscious reaction to the previous genre.


Examples

    Film 
  • Black Belt Jones: A more contemporaneous Blaxploitation/martial arts hybrid, starring Jim Kelly from Enter the Dragon fighting against a crew of Mafiosi who killed the owner of a karate school.
  • Black Caesar: Tommy Gibbs, a shoeshine kid in Harlem, becomes a mob runner. On one of his jobs he's beaten severely by a corrupt, racist cop and his leg is shattered, leaving him mildly crippled. Gibbs is then sent to jail for assaulting a police officer. After leaving prison, he assassinates a Mafia target and leverages that favor into a deal allowing him to control a section of Harlem. Famous for its soundtrack and songs done by none other than James Brown!
  • The Black Cobra: A black Cowboy Cop protects a young photographer from a gang of Ax-Crazy bikers she witnessed and photographed killing somebody.
  • Black Dynamite: A 2009 Affectionate Parody of the genre.
  • The Black Gestapo: Black 'protection' squad is set up to help citizens of Watts against the Mafia. Proudly taglined 'The New Master Race!'
  • The Black Godfather: A black gangster starts a Mob War to keep heroin out of his community.
  • Black Gunn: A nightclub owner is drawn into a conflict between the Mafia and a militant Black Power organization of which his brother is a member.
  • The Black Klansman: When a black girl is killed by the KKK, her father, a light-skinned black man, returns to his hometown to infiltrate the local chapter of the KKK and bring it down from within.
  • Black Rage: An albino black man (played by a white guy) escapes slavery with his dark-skinned brother, with Lurch chasing after them.
  • Black Samson: A not-so-Angry Black Man who runs a local club has to deal with multiple attempts by a white mobster to muscle in on his territory — and soil it with drugs.
  • The Black 6: An African-American biker gang avenges the racist murder of their leader's brother.

     Non-Film Examples 
  • Luke Cage was created in response to the growing popularity of the genre, but he isn't always a straight example. He definitely can be, though, especially when writers want to focus on his anti-authoritarian streak or his focus on the problems of black neighborhoods.
  • Mafia III is out and proud about trying to replicate the feel of old Blaxploitation flicks. Against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, you play a black Vietnam veteran out to avenge the death of his family at the Mob's hands (and the Mob's subsequent saturation of his home neighborhood with heroin). On the way, you get to take down The Klan, Corrupt Hicks, and many an Angry White Man. The "Faster, Baby!" DLC is even more so, with an Afro Asskicker helping you take down a corrupt racist sheriff.


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