chapter  15
10 Pages

The Black Image in Protective Custody: Hollywood's Biracial Buddy Films of the Eighties: Ed Guerrero

Since the collapse of the early to mid-seventies Black movie boom and the Blaxploitation genre, the terms of Black representation in dominant, narrative cinema have drastically shifted and regressed in a number of significant ways. Besides the resurfacing of the crude and obvious stereotyping of Blacks in such films as Caddyshack (1980) or Weird Science (1985), or the reemergence of moments of blackface and a sustained representational style amounting to "neo-minstrelsy'" in such films as The Blues Brothers (1980) or Soul Man (1986), Hollywood has deployed a variety of narrative and visual "strategies of containment'? that subordinate the Black image and subtly reaffirm dominant society's traditional racial order. There has been much protest and critical writing, for example, about Black energy and talent being confined to expression in mostly comic roles and vehicles, in complete disproportion to the paucity of dramatic features exploring the range and complexity of Black life and culture in America. Certainly this issue tends to be illustrated by the screen personas and career trajectories of superstars Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, in contrast to a deficit of dramatic stars, male or female, of similar stature.