Analysis of Superfly and Shaft

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In the early 70’s, the common genre of blaxploitation set the stage for African-American films we see today. Two films in particular, Superfly and Shaft, brilliantly use stereotypes and imaging to tackle racial controversies in our society. Although the plots of these films are quite different, they both deal with the idea of black characters “sticking it to the man.” Contrary to earlier films that presented black characters with inferior roles of slavery and/or poverty, the main characters are depicted with positions of authority and power. The directors use these characters to defy the stereotypes and misconceptions that blacks are labeled with. In addition to exciting and intense storylines, these two movies provide insight into the urban lifestyles African-Americans held in our society during the 70’s. The oppression of minorities by whites is power is a common occurrence in our society. This is the reason why there is very little, if any, drastic movement in our social class system. The wealthy in power do their best to stay on the top of the social stratification ladder and keep the lower class where they are. In the movie Superfly, underprivileged environmental factors force the main character Priest to live his life as a drug dealer. He is born into a society where blacks have the lowest social status. After realizing this phenomenon, he finds that his only choice is leading a lifestyle which can either result in death or imprisonment. This story is the typical struggle that blacks in urban areas are faced with. To reject the stereotypical image of a black man’s failure in society, Director Gordon Park Jr. presents the character Priest with qualities of intelligence and strength. Priest devises a plan to outsmart the whites that are oppressing him and to “stick it to the man.” In the movie, Priest’s partner Eddie says, “You're gonna give all this up? Eight

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