Everything still seems to be on deck for tomorrow regarding my column in The State newspaper.
But that's tomorrow. Let's get through today.
The blaxploitation period of American cinema was an interesting time. It was when filmmakers suddenly figured out that black folks liked movies, could write and direct films, and that black women could carry motion pictures.
The films from this period encompassed good(Blacula, the Cleopatra Jones series), bad (The Mack, Soul Vengeance), and so damned awful that you had to watch them for their campy quality (Dolemite, Truck Turner).
Still there were drawbacks. The films, for the most part, were violent and coarse. They took the stereotypes of the superstud black man and the extremely racist white man and blew them up to outrageous proportions.
And how these motion pictures portrayed lgbts were just awful. Gay men of all stripes were seen as weak.
And lesbians were portrayed as threatening. White lesbians in particular were seen as either subservient to black women or as criminals.
These two clips demonstrate my point.
The first is from Foxy Brown, a motion picture starring Pam Grier. Grier plays a woman seeking to free her neighborhood from a drug and prostitution cartel. In this scene, she is involved in a lesbian barroom brawl:
This second clip is from a more sophisticated movie, Cleopatra Jones. Tamara Dobson portrays Jones, an international super spy who is battling a lesbian drug lord named Mommy. That's right, her name is Mommy.
But it gets better. Mommy is portrayed by two-time Oscar winning actress Shelley Winters. And this performance didn't exactly hurt her career. She would later get another Oscar nomination for the Poseidon Adventure.
I'm ashamed to admit that despite how insulting it was, I enjoyed Winters's performance. It's obvious that she did not take this movie seriously. Winters doesn't just chew scenery, she grinds it into powder.
Her performance, in fact, softens the insult of the evil lesbian stereotype just a little.
In this clip, Winters explodes on the scene at 2:00 but watch the entire thing. It's entertaining as hell: