The decade of cinema dominated by black films and film stars such as Isaac Hayes, Fred Williamson, Richard Roundtree and Pam Grier came to be known as “Blaxploitation.” Good or bad, the films were known for their action, their style and in some ways, even their stereotypes of certain characters.
Perhaps the most iconic of the films happened to be Shaft and in the latest installment of the film, three generations of Shaft are coming together to prove it’s a family thing. Madd Hatta sat down with Roundtree, Samuel L. Jackson and Jessie T. Usher to ask them about what “blaxploitation” means to them AND we even got some ideas from Tim Story on whether or not a focus group’s reaction makes him go back and edit films.
“I did, given the fact that Gordon Parks spoke on it and he’s such a dignified human being that when that word is used in conjunction with Gordon Parks, it doesn’t work. There isn’t anything exploitive about Gordon Parks,” Roundtree says.
Jackson asked, “What’s your better name? I mean, we all do but that’s the period, it’s not a genre, it’s more a period. It was like a testing ground, I saw everything from Shaft to Candy Tangerine Man … a brother who was a pimp during the week and insurance man on the weekends. JD’s Revenge. All those films inform what I do because it was about getting back against the man.”
Shaft is in theaters now.