Shaft

Isaac Hayes won multiple Grammys¬† and an Oscar for Shaft‘s soundtrack.

Shaft soundtrack cover
Shaft soundtrack cover

The film itself was among the first of the genre, and the swaggering masculinity of its title character became a prototype for later Blaxploitation films.

This assignment includes our first discussion.

Viewing/Listening

Reading

  • Jay Z, “Cautionary Tales” (Decoded 200-15)

Discussion

Do NOT try to answer all of these questions in your initial posting. Instead, use them as a spring board for your own thinking about Blaxploitation, and then write a tight, coherent statement addressing a single issue or point.

  • The NAACP argued that Blaxploitation films were just as racist as the Stepin-Fetchit and Mammy roles that were common in earlier Hollywood films. Do you agree?
  • Who Sampled? lists 60 songs that have borrowed from Isaac Hayes’s “Theme from Shaft.” Pick one or more of these songs and discuss the likely reasons behind the artists’ choice to sample the theme song.
  • Jay Z argues that Shaft is an example of Black art being used “as a tool for social change” (203). Do you agree?
  • What specific characteristics of Blaxploitation heroes do you also see in hip hop? (Identify specific artists and songs to ground your argument.)
  • What specific characteristics of female characters in Blaxploitation films do you also see in hip hop? (Identify specific artists and songs to ground your argument.)