chapter  10
15 Pages

“I’m a Militant Queen”: Queering Blaxploitation Films: Angelique Harris

ByANGELIQUE HARRIS

This chapter is a survey and analysis of the representation of sexual minorities within a sample of blaxploitation fi lms. Movies off er a unique cinematic experience whereby societal perceptions, beliefs and attitudes are, often inadvertently, captured, allowing for a deeper understanding of the ways in which certain groups were understood by audiences of a given era. This has been particularly relevant with the portrayal of blacks on-screen. For most of American cinematic history, African Americans were portrayed in a stereotypical and/or negative manner within mainstream fi lms. Black actors typically worked in either supporting roles or as the antagonist.2 Although African Americans have produced, written, directed and starred in fi lms targeting black audiences since 1915, these fi lms never attracted a mainstream audience, and the production of these “race fi lms” declined in the 1950s. This decline was due, in large part, to the casting of blacks in mainstream fi lms, such as Ethel Waters in Pinky (Elia Kazan, 1949) and Sidney Poitier in No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950). Coincidently, the decline in the production of race fi lms coincided with the death of this genre’s most infl uential fi lmmaker, Oscar Micheaux.3