Edith Britton – Chapter 7

New York’s Harlem District in the 1930-1940:

Black cinema thrived despite the inequalities and discrimination that African American faced in the movie industry in New York Harlem District in 1930s-1940s.Imitation of Life (1934) was the highest grossing film in black theaters during the mid 1930s. One matter is that equal opportunity has been a constant struggle for African Americans who have supported the film industry. There was discrimination against African American patrons from the late 1800s until the passing of the Civil Rights legislation in the mid 1960. Theater segregation took place in large cities as well as small towns.Theaters that were specifically for only black audience members only played new movies would not appear until 2-3 year s after already was having been shown in white movie theaters. As well as black patrons not being able to go to the movies until after midnight or forced to sit “less” desirable areas

World War II:

After World War II many things began to change within the urban community. The “white flight” was a migration of the white middle class who left the racially mixed urban areas to settle in more homogeneous suburbs. Many movies companies and theaters feared a loss of money because of this so they began catering to black customers to prevent from going out of business. By the late 1960s-1970s films such as, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? And In the Heat of the Night (1967) starring legendary African American actor Sidney Poitier (1967) who became the first African American to win an Oscar for in the actors’ category was a historical accomplishment for black actors and actresses. .

Blaxploitation Films:

In the late 60s and early 70s a new genre of films that were directed towards black audiences emerged; Blaxploitation Films. Blaxploitation is a term coined in the early 1970s to refer to black action films that were aimed at black audiences. Featuring African-American actors in lead roles and often having anti-establishment plots, the films were frequently condemned for stereotypical characterization and glorification of violence. (http://www.separatecinema.com/exhibits_blaxploitation.html

Gordon Parks the director of The Learning Tree (1971) adapted from his own novel went on to make commercial and action films such as Shaft (1971). These movies became popular amounts urban city black kids and were praised for their depictions of black urban life. Superfly (1972) was another one of these films that was directed by Gordon Parks son. Although praised by those who could relate to the figures and situations seen on the screen they were a topic of cultural debate and many argued that they glorified violence. Regardless of the controversy these films reached and audience that had not been wells served within the film industry in the 1960s.


top picture: Spike Lee

Tyler Perry

Film opportunities for African Americans began it expand but at a slow pace and with immense difficulty as they were still viewed as outsiders. Spike Lee successful black actor/director still had difficulty securing large budgets for his films. In 2004 Tyler Perry brought his stage production, Diary of a Mad Black Woman to major films. It was a massive and went on to gross more than 50million at the box office. This success allowed him the freedom to produce, write, and direct a series of films on his own terms.

One of the things I notice in this textbook and in other mass media textbook is that there isn’t a lot on the subject of the racial barrier in showiness in regard to other races besides African Americans. I found this section to be lacking in a lot of areas that it could of touched on.


2 thoughts on “Edith Britton – Chapter 7

  1. I definitely feel like this still goes on even now. Blacks seem to only get praised if they are thw happy slave or someones amazing butler.


  2. I completely agree with what you are saying. When we think of racism, our first thoughts are always blacks vs whites, even me a Pakistani-American. The American film industry is completely white washed. I recently saw the movie Gods of Egypt, and it was astonishing how only three or four characters in the movie were people of color, and it wasn’t even the main roles. They were on screen for a little bit and all ended up being killed, or not to be seen again until the end of the movie. This can be seen throughout media across, those who are successful in media are usually white. If you take a look at the new youtube culture that has formed, there are some people that have been on youtube for years and have built a considerable fan base while some, mainly white families, have just started posting on youtube and have gained a fan base so quickly. Its had hard to miss the lack of diversity when you go searching for reviews on a certain lipstick shade and there is no one with the same skin tone as you that can tell you whether the shade will look good on your skin tone.


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