The return of blaxploitation: why the time is right to bring back Shaft and Foxy Brown
The 70 s genre is set to predominate big screens again with a batch of remakes and reboots. But where will these films fit in contemporary America?
If it’s true that the past is prologue, then it’s also fair to say that we live now in an age of remix, remakes and reboots. Everything old-fashioned is new again in this world-wide of popular culture and social media, where the lines between past and present are invariably blurred if not completely invisible. On Instagram, we celebrate Throwback Thursdays while the daily drama that comes out of the White House often builds it seem as though we are literally being hurled backwards into a past that many naively thought was long gone or perhaps never existed.
Over the past time “theres been” several bulletins about new cinema and television services and facilities programmes in the works that come from the period in the 1970 s known as blaxploitation. Remakes or reboots have been announced for Shaft at New Line, Super Fly at Sony, Cleopatra Jones at Warners, and Foxy Brown on Hulu, while brand-new Taraji P Henson action thriller Proud Mary looks to have been influenced by the genre as well.
Why so much better contemporary interest in a motion from so many years ago? The answers lie in several unexpected similarities that have emerged between this previous era and our present moment.
If we rewind to the late 60 s and early 70 s, we find traditional Hollywood studios were is difficult to connect. With black activists, Vietnam, campus protests and the counterculture predominating the conversation in Richard Nixon’s ” law and order ” America, watching the nightly news often seemed more compelling than attaches great importance to anything that might have been playing at the local movie theatre.
Hollywood, like nature, loathes a vacuum-clean, so this is where blaxploitation received its lane. The arrival of cinemas such as Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Shaft, Super Fly, Cleopatra Jones, The Mack, Blacula, The Legend of Nigger Charley, Trouble Man and Coffy, all liberated between 1971 and 1973, offered black audiences attributes, themes, music and style that was now consistent with the cultural instant off-screen. The chill, sexual, powerful, conscious, irreverent , nonchalant, quick-witted behaviour of these brand-new ultra-hip cinemas spoke to these audiences in different languages that they both understood and enjoyed. At the same day, these low-budget makes grown high profit margins for the fighting studios and for a period urban audiences of colour and studio clothings were pleased with the results.