African American Youth-Identity, Invisible Powers & Hypnotic Blaxploitation-Themed Film Tropes: From Superfly & Drug Culture to Black Panther & Wakanda
Year of Graduation
MA in Screenwriting and Film Studies
This thesis project explores the most influential effect of the blaxploitation era. It is during a time shortly after the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, where black youth are still enduring identity issues. The point of departure for central discussion of this work revolves around the mesmerizing Hollywood blaxploitation film, Superfly. It arrived on the big screen in 1972. The hit movie and its soundtrack seemingly hypnotized countless young African American youth in urban areas to become drug dealers and users. This coincided with Nixon’s War on Drugs collusion with government agencies, and the secret COINTELPRO operation. They targeted poor black communities across America. By 1976, supposedly the blaxploitation film era had ended in Hollywood. Over the next few decades, a prison-industrial-complex will come about aiming to fill prison spaces with African American drug dealers and users. Before long there will be a crack epidemic. This very addictive drug will be flooded into impoverished black neighborhoods by invisible powers. The War on drugs will continue into the 1990’s. Hip-hop and gangsta-films are now on the scene, reminiscent of the charismatic lifestyle of the hustling and drug dealing protagonist from Superfly. Nearly, fifty years after Superfly’s cult-like following first gained a ghetto-hero to idolize, another hypnotic film surfaces from the shelves of a comic strip. The Marvel movie Black Panther and its “fictional” African land of Wakanda, in 2018, hypnotically captured the imaginations of young black people. Could this be blaxploitation 2.0?
Mitchell, Daniel, "African American Youth-Identity, Invisible Powers & Hypnotic Blaxploitation-Themed Film Tropes: From Superfly & Drug Culture to Black Panther & Wakanda" (2023). Screenwriting and Film Studies Theses (MA/MFA), Hollins University. 2.
The purpose of the MFA/MA Thesis in Screenwriting and Film is to provide a definitive record of student development and achievement in the program prior to completion of the degree. The thesis does not reflect any revisions to work made subsequent to the degree completion. If you would like to read a more current version of the screenplay or inquire about optioning agreements, please contact the author or the Hollins Graduate Screenwriting and Film Department.
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