"Baad bitches" and sassy supermamas : black power action films / Stephane Dunn.

by Dunn, Stephane, 1967-Looking glass.

Series: New Black studies series: Publisher: Urbana, Ill. : University of Illinois Press, [2008]Description: xv, 166 pages ; 23 cm.ISBN: 9780252033407; 025203340X; 9780252075483; 025207548X.Subject(s): Blaxploitation films -- United States -- History and criticism | Action and adventure films -- United States -- History and criticism | African American women heroes in motion picturesLooking glassNote: Includes bibliographical references (pages [149]-156) and index.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

Blaxploitation action narratives as well as politically radical films like Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song typically portrayed black women as trifling "bitches" compared to the supermacho black male heroes. But starting in 1973, the emergence of "baad bitches" and "sassy supermamas" reversed the trend as self-assured, empowered, and tough black women took the lead in the films Cleopatra Jones, Coffy, and Foxy Brown.

Stephane Dunn unpacks the intersecting racial, sexual, and gender politics underlying the representations of racialized bodies, masculinities, and femininities in early 1970s black action films, with particular focus on the representation of black femininity. Recognizing a distinct moment in the history of African American representation in popular cinema, Dunn analyzes how it emerged from a radical political era influenced by the Black Power movement and feminism. Dunn also engages blaxploitation's legacy in contemporary hip-hop culture, as suggested by the music's disturbing gender politics and the "baad bitch daughters" of Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones, rappers Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim.

Includes bibliographical references (pages [149]-156) and index.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Dunn (English, Morehouse Coll.) provides a scholarly analysis of the image of the female African American action hero (e.g., Coffy, Foxy Brown, and Cleopatra Jones) of the early 1970s blaxploitation films as created by the male-dominated movie industry. She shows how the black power movement, also male dominated, had a direct influence on how these supertough sex kittens were presented on the big screen. Dunn also addresses how they were viewed by audiences, both black and white, and provides evidence of how these same personas reemerged in some of the black female rap stars of the 1990s, such as Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown, with the same no-holds-barred toughness and individuality. Dunn puts the whole blaxploitation experience into logical context, explaining the social conditions of the era relating to race and gender that affected how the black community observed these films and how the biggest studio culprit, American International Pictures, displayed a white society's imagined perspective of African American reality. An essential companion to the black film studies genre. Recommended for academic libraries and any library with a serious film studies collection. (Contains strong adult language.)--Richard A. Dickey, Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


This sharply observed, well-written survey of African American action films of the 1970s, the period when "blaxploitation" films briefly dominated the American box office, pays special attention to such groundbreaking films as Melvin Van Peebles's Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, Ivan Dixon's The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Jack Starrett's Cleopatra Jones, and Jack Hill's Coffy and Foxy Brown. But Dunn goes much further into these films than scholars of previous studies have, astutely "unpacking" these films (and others) to examine their sexual politics, feminist revisioning (or lack thereof) of the African American female body, and the ways in which popular "black action" films both construct and reinforce gender and race roles. And the book is not anchored solely in the work of this era: Dunn's argument extends to similar more recent films, such as F. Gary Gray's Set It Off (1996), and demonstrates how the role presented in the "black action" films of the 1970s has been modified, deconstructed, and recast in new, intriguing ways to interrogate the changing nature of African American cultural and social politics. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers, all levels. G. A. Foster University of Nebraska--Lincoln

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Stephane Dunn is a professor and academic program director of the Cinema, Television, & Emerging Media Studies program at Morehouse College.