Saturday, April 4, 2009

Foxy Brown

"That's my sister, baby, and she's a whole lotta woman!" --Link Brown.

I watched 'Foxy Brown' on
Netflix last night, a cult classic from 1974. It stars Pam Grier as the sexy 'Foxy Brown.' It's very campy. Quentin Tarantino masterfully re-created this genre in 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Jackie Brown' years later. (His movies are far better, of course) 'Foxy Brown' is a low budget B movie, but it stands out because of its portrayal of race relations at the time. The movie was made during the "Black Power," "Black is Beautiful" era. Everyone has a big Afro, platform shoes, orange pants, and calls themselves 'cat' and 'brother.'

As for Foxy Brown, I was a little disappointed that she didn't kick more ass. But she does get out of every scrape, wield a gun, and state her case clearly. In other words, it's gratifying to see a strong black woman in film. (At one point, she even gets into a brawl at a dyke bar! The scene is absolutely hilarious!) The film also stands out because there are plenty of dumb white people getting humiliated, which seems a rarity in film, especially in 1974. Foxy says to a white judge: "
You pink-ass corrupt honky judge, take your little wet noodle outta here and if you see a man anywhere send him in because I do need a MAN!" Shocking!

"FoxyBrown" is definitely a revenge film. In fact, some of the scenes are disturbingly brutal, and seem out of character for Foxy and others. Some of the language in the film is also by today's standards grossly offensive. Foxy is called a "jigaboo" at one point. But, all in all, this cult classic is worth watching for a 'slice of time,' and (I sheepishly admit) a few laughs.

** Upon further research I discovered that "Foxy Brown," and the earlier "
Coffy" (1973)-- also starring Pam Grier, are classic films of the "Blaxploitation" genre. These films, made during the early to mid 1970's, are usually set in urban areas like Los Angeles. The main characters are African Americans, with white people having minor roles. Generally there is an 'anti-drug' message in the film. Pimps and hit man and drug dealers are subdued not by police, but by vigilante black gangs. There's plenty of sex, profanity, and violence. The scores of the films are the soul and funk music of the time.

Many considered "
Blaxploitation' films empowering, as they portrayed black actors and African American concerns and culture. The characters in the films (including the women) are strong and take action. But some African American organizations, like the N.A.A.C.P., protested "Blaxploitation' films because of the blatant (and often negative) stereotypes of blacks. A famous film of this genre, for example, is 'Shaft,' 1971.

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