Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Colorless Cool

John Shaft the coolest "brother" of them all. In class this week, we watched Shaft and learned that it was considered a "blaxplotation" film, maby the first of the genre, and that it was directed by a black man with an mostly black cast. An argument can be made that instead of being just a movie that was made for black people, the way they wanted to, and shows a strong independent black man that was certainly cool, that the blaxplotation films in a way created the black stereotype that is in the 1970s and is still around today. Even though the stereotype of urban black people was spawned, the movies were cool. They gave black people an identity that they wanted themselves to have, not the stereotype of ultra dart big lipped aunt-Jemima-esk that the white people of the 1930s gave them. There is definitely something cool about being able to define yourselves.

When it comes to the concept of being a cool minority there are many people who belong to minorities that are very cool. Will Smith, Dave Chappelle, Jackie Chan, Tiger Woods, Vin Diesel, Harold and Kumar, and many others. I have no doubt that a minority can be cool, but I do not believe your ethnicity should play a factor in determining if you are cool or not, and I also do not think someone should recieve "cool points" for being a minority. Saying that you are cool because you are black is like saying all black people are good at basket ball, just another stereotype. People can be cool no matter the color of there skin, but since the blaxplotation era of films some the view of the black culture is one that deals with drug dealers, pimps, unfavorable women, and to be disrespectful to authority. Cool is a personality thing, or a skill thing, not a race thing.

Now on the other hand, there is a factor of cool when a person of a minority rises above the stereotype of what is expected of them and achieves something wonderful. This is seen in the movie Freedom Writers. This movie is about the inspirational group of inner city students that rose above what others thought would be there unavoidable future. The movie is inspirational, heart touching, and very cool. The rising above of the stereotype is also seen in the rap star T.I. Cool is something people can be or do no matter of there race.


  1. I agree with your point about the movie Freedom Writers. Recently it seems there are several movies that run along the same lines, for example The Great Debaters. This positive type of black film portrays black people in a much better light than Shaft. Could that be because race relations have changed?

  2. I think you're right that "minority =/= cool," but do you think that the "minority cool" is a different kind of cool or is that false as well? If it isn't different, then how do films like Shaft "exploit" any one population?

    As far as Aunt Jemima, she's from the 1890s. And she's meant to represent a mammy, or the house maid on the plantation. Same with Uncle Ben. They were literally supposed to be slaves-in-a-box.

  3. "Cool is a personality thing, or a skill thing, not a race thing."
    This is a neat idea. If there is a cardinal set of rules as to what is cool or not, this would definitely be one of them. However, like you said, rising above a stereotype can definitely generate a large amount of coolness.

  4. I am surprised you didn't use Chef as a graphic here if you wanted a South Park person, as he was voiced by the guy that gave Shaft a soundtrack.

    Since most cool people do come from a minority do you think there is something that gives them a leg up in finding cool?