I never really liked the old Dolomite movies my uncle used to watch on VHS, but I did have an affinity for The Mack starring Max Julian. Even as a young child (come to think of it I was probably way too young to be watching a movie about a gangster pimp. At any rate…) I thought Goldy, the lead character, was the coolest thing walking. The fact that it was filmed in my hometown of Oakland, CA also factored into my enchantment with the movie. My uncle dug Goldy too. He was into the loud clothes, and the flamboyant hats. He liked the classic pimp lines like; “Mutha ****** can you buy that?” and “Next time you hear grown folks talking shut the **** up hear!”
This was of course before Spike Lee, John Singleton, and a few others began trying to make dignified movies about black people trapped in American ghettos. So for my uncle’s generation if you wanted to see black folks on the big screen you had to see African-American culture as interpreted by a few white men. What I mean by that is that The Mack as well as almost all other Blaxploitation movies were written, directed, casted and produced by middle aged white dudes. The objective of these movies was not to show the humanity of the characters but rather it was to make the most money possible and to do it in a way that was completely nonthreatening to white America.
In today’s “post racial society” one would assume that America has moved far beyond these one-dimensional cultural snap shots. But then again if one were to do so then one would be absolutely wrong.
21st century entertainment has been sabotaged by the viral video. No matter if it’s someone rapping, mocking his girlfriend, or fighting, it’s all about how many views you generate. In fact the lure of the viral video has become so strong that even news media has gotten involved. Every year a new African-American eyewitness to a crime becomes the latest Internet celebrity. From Antoine Dodson to Sweet Brown to Charles Ramsey— all of them represent that loud, attitude having, unemployed, unlettered African-American’s that our White-American counterparts can never seem to get enough of. In essence they are the latest form of Blaxploitation.
I have no idea how respectable news outlets around the country can get away with showing black people with scarves on their heads screaming and yelling in unnecessarily dramatic fashion and pass it off as an honest account of what took place. And in the case of Antoine Dodson they even conducted a secondary interview. Since when did crime become comedy? Since when did the 5 o’clock news become Showtime at the Apollo? Just like Superfly, Shaft, and Goldy the Mack, nothing should be taken too seriously when it comes out of the mouth of a black person. It’s strictly for entertainment purposes only.
Good observation that has slipped by many of us. On a similar note, where are the leading 20-something black actors and actresses that get substantial lead roles today? We had plenty to choose from in the 90’s, but it seems like the well has dried up or never even had anybody for this generation in the first place…sad.
Great point. I can complain all day wrong about Blaxploitation but at least black actors were being employed at a very high rate. It’s always a trade-off.