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Chapter 39: Blaxploitation

One of the most important movie phenomena of the last few years has been what the Left-liberal and Establishment critics bitterly deride as “blaxploitation” movies. These are exciting, often delightful films where black private eyes and black gunmen star in black versions of this familiar white style of motion pictures. Of varying quality, such films as Shaft, Trouble Man, and Cotton Comes to Harlem almost all convey a sense of drama and a keen appreciation of black argot and ghetto “street smarts.” They are all, in short, fun pictures, and it is typical of the insufferably serioso left-critics to get on their neo-Puritan high horse and condemn them as “exploiting” black people by ... what? By giving them pictures which they intensely enjoy. Anyone who has seen a blaxploitation film will attest to the enjoyment and enthusiasm for these pictures by the virtually all-black audience. The audience identifies with the characters, shouts at the screen, applauds and hisses.

But, you see, according to our left-liberals, blacks must somehow be shielded from the supposedly “degrading” nature of street-private eye-police culture. Black audiences have to be fed “ennobling,” if depressing and boring movies such as Sounder. How insufferably elitist can one get?1

[Reprinted from Libertarian Forum 5, no. 5 (1973).]
  • 1. On the humorless Neo-Puritanism of our current Left, see the interesting article by George H. Douglas, “The New Puritanism of the Youth Culture,” Modern Age (Spring, 1973).