It is astounding that audiences have been loudly criticizing the industry for their lack of minorities; in case you haven't noticed, Hollywood is incredibly white-washed.
It seems that once again, Hollywood is decades too late in reflecting what is actually going on with society. History is again repeating itself, but this is a call to ask the industry to catch up with the times.
In the 1970s, a powerful and radical movement came to fruition as black filmmakers found a way to make a profound statement. Blaxploitation films were originally intended for urban black audiences, but it comes with no surprise that it quickly spread across all people of various races and ethnicities.
Usually accompanied with funk and soul music, and a primarily black cast, Blaxploitation films set to give the audience what they truly wanted: diversity. And it's something we are still asking for nearly forty-five years later.
Below is a list of the top six Blaxploitation films from the 1970s:
1. Shaft (1971)
Shaft is credited as being one of the films that started the Blaxploitation genre. John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) is a private detective who fearlessly stomps through Harlem and the Italian mob to find the daughter of a fellow black mobster.
2. Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)
The combination of a stellar Earth, Wind & Fire soundtrack and actor Melvin Van Peebles starring as "Sweet Sweetback" create an action-packed film about a male prostitute who is wrongfully accused of murder. He escapes the police and makes it all the way to Mexico, where he is safe and sound.
3. Blacula (1972)
Mamuwalde is an 18th century African prince who is turned into a vampire after by Count Dracula during the year 1780. In 1972, two interior decorators from Los Angeles accidentally purchase his coffin, also releasing him back out into the world.
4. Super Fly (1972)
Ron O'Neal stars as Youngblood Priest, an African American cocaine dealer who wishes to leave behind his criminal lifestyle. Did I mention the soundtrack was written and produced by the soul singer Curtis Mayfield? Awesome action paired with some groovy music.
5. Foxy Brown (1974)
If you don't know who Pam Grier is, I'll give you a hint. She plays Foxy Borwn, who is a whole lotta woman. She's got brains, beauty, bravery, and booty. While battling villains, she isn't afraid to flaunt her irresistible sexiness. She truly is foxy.
6. Cleopatra Jones (1973)
Cleo is an undercover agent for the government. She models overseas to cover her real job. She's along the lines of a Bond girl, but with much more brains, and a suped up silver and black '73 Corvette Stingray (complete with all the automatic weapons a bad ass girl would need). She is a funk goddess who has no problem busting out her martial arts skills when necessary.
While Blaxploitation films weren't perfect, as they were considered too sexual and incredibly violent, it was still a step in the right direction. At least we showed black people in film that weren't just Uncle Toms, Bucks, Tragic and Sexual Mulattos, Mammies, and Pickaninnies.
Black people are clearly more than those five stereotypes. And while those typical roles aren't as present in films nowadays, we have to admit that we are missing minorities in film for the most part.
Humans are made of many different colors. Let's have our films hold a mirror to society and truly reflect that.