Film Studies Lecturer Explores Blaxploitation in New Book

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A lecturer at the University of Worcester has published a new book exploring the film genre known as Blaxploitation.

In the early 1970s a new type of film exploded onto American cinema screens, featuring all-black casts, R 'n' B and disco music soundtracks, characters sporting big guns, and even bigger afros, and had some of the meanest, baddest attitudes to shoot their way across our screens.

Film Studies course leader Dr Mikel Koven said classic movies such as Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), Shaft (1971) and Superfly (1972), kick-started a new movie genre of their own –‘Blaxploitation’ - and would influence future generations of filmmakers all over the world.

“What they lacked in big studio dollars, Blaxploitation movies made up for in slick urban cool and gritty street realism previously unseen by many mainstream cinema-goers,” he said.

“Moreover, for African-American audiences these films were a refreshing antidote to the sugar-coated version of black America portrayed by prime-time TV stars such as Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. Blaxploitation depicted an uncompromising view of black America which black audiences could identify with - even if the films themselves were often kitsch and the stories pure fantasy.”

Dr Koven’s book considers Blaxploitation from the perspective of class and racial rebellion, genre, and ‘Stickin' it to the Man’, with over 60 classic Blaxploitation films reviewed and discussed in-depth.

Sections include Blaxploitation horror films, kung-fu movies, Westerns and modern spoofs, including I’m Gonna Git You Sucka’ (1988) and Undercover Brother (2002) and the book is brought fully up-to-date with critical analysis of recent Blaxploitation parodies such as The Hebrew Hammer (2003) and Black Dynamite (2009).

The book is published by Kamera Books and is on sale now.