Thursday, March 19, 2009

He's a ba... Oh You Know the Rest

This week we watched Shaft, not the 2000 remake with Samuel L. Jackson, but the classic movie from the 1970s right after the end of the civil rights movement. With this class being about cool, I agree totally with the selection of this film. If there were ever a man in a movie who knew he was cool, it would be John Shaft. He does his thing and changes his persona for no one, not even the cops. He is so cool that the cars will even stop for him while he randomly crosses the street. He talks to the cops like he owns them and they just let him. When it comes to respect and power, Shaft is cool

Now Shaft is cool because he is good at what he does. He is a private eye, and somehow can find out about anything just from the word on the street. He finds out relatively fast that Bumpy's daughter was kidnapped by the Italian mafia, a fact that I think would have been very difficult to learn. Shaft is also able to take a group of people off of the street, storm where they are keeping her and get her back. This can be taken in ether he does his job well, which is cool, or he was doing the right thing by getting back an innocent girl from the mob, which is also cool. No matter how you take it, Shaft is cool.

There is only one thing negative that I have to say about the movie. The film took the role of the cool jive black guy too far. There are many times where he was a smart ass and did not have to be. The over playing of the strong minority stereotype can be seen as giving power to people who believe all black people are disrespectful to authority. Shaft did not have to be a dick to the cops, but it was cool.


  1. We talked in class about how the film has an a mostly black cast and is directed by a black director. Yes, he's a jive-talkin' smartass, but that's what he was supposed to be. I think the intent of the director and scriptwriters was to make Shaft the pinnacle of coolness. As such, he's above being dissected into cool and uncool, too far and just cool enough. Shaft is Shaft, and, overall, he's the coolest cat around.

    Considering the trend of "blacksploitation," which this film obviously was a part of, who do you think this movie was made for? Once you consider that, is he really overplaying the minority stereotype? Or was he acting in a way people wished they could? Answering these questions is essential to not only understanding the character of Shaft, but why he was so cool and his character so calculated.

  2. I'm not sure about not needing to be a dick to a cop. I think he had to be a dick to everyone that lacked innocence. It provides contrast to the normal townspeople that Shaft treats with kindness.