“Groovy Sex-Object,” Compliment Or Insult? Essay

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“Groovy Sex-Object,” Compliment or Insult? by Dawn Peterson HST 363: Af-Am History from 1850 – Film Analysis Paper April 15, 2010 The 1970’s are best understood as a time of turmoil. The social and political events of the decade began a sort of liberation in American film culture. One genre that erupted from this decade is known as the blaxploitation genre. These films targeted audiences of urban black people and primarily starred black characters. One popular type of blaxploitation films was the action film. These usually took place in the ghetto in an atmosphere of hit men, drug dealers, pimps and prostitutes. They included ethnic slurs pertaining to whites and blacks. The 70’s were also a time when women entered film genres that had always been thought of as exclusively male. The world of action and violence was no longer solely a man’s world. Two popular action heroines of the blaxploitation period were Foxy Brown (1974) and Cleopatra Jones (1973); two headstrong black female characters. These films worked to create a new black female character that contested the negative images of African American womanhood so prevalent in film and literature for years. Blaxploitation movies provided alternative images of the African American woman that were neither the ‘Mammy’ of films like Gone With the Wind (1939), or the ‘exotic other’ of Carmen Jones (1954). But they were reminiscent of other stereotypes that have haunted black femininity since slavery. One of these stereotypes is most commonly known as the ‘Jezebel.’ Depicted as alluringly seductive, she uses her beauty to lure men into her bed almost against their will. Next, there is the ‘Sapphire,’ the wisecracking, stubborn, emasculating woman. She lets everyone know she’s in charge. Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones

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