UCI Lerone Bennet and Huey Newton Film Media Black Cinema Essay

I’m trying to learn for my Film class and I’m stuck. Can you help?


Readings and Screenings:

  • Reading: Dunn, “Black Power and the New Baad Cinema” in “Baad Bitches” and Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films, pp. 35-54
  • Reading: Abugo Ongiri, “You Better Watch This Good Shit!” Black Spectatorship, Black Masculinity, and Blaxploitation Film in Spectacular Blackness: The Cultural Politics of the Black Power Movement and the Search for a Black Aesthetic, pp. 159-185
  • Reading: Bennet, “The Emancipation Orgasm: Sweetback in Wonderland”**Required section 112-118, Optional 106-112
  • Reading: Newton, “He won’t bleed me: a revolutionary analysis of Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song,” in Black Panther Intercommunal News Service, **Required section 1-9, Optional 1-14
  • Screening: Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song 1971 (Melvin Van Peebles, 97 min)
  • Screening: Baaadasssss Cinema 2003 (Issac Julien, 53 min)
  • Screening: Shaft 1971 (Gordan Parks, 100 min)

In order to demonstrate your knowledge of course materials and your ability to make connections between the readings, lectures, and film screenings, you will answer three prompted questions that ask you to synthesize the course materials from the week (or to connect one week’s course materials to another week’s course materials). For more details on what is expected, and recommendations for a strong write-up, please see bullet point list below.

  • Written clearly, proofread, organized in a clear and effective way (no more than 300 words per question)
  • Addresses the questions directly and completely (especially, if there are multiple parts to the question)
  • Demonstrates (even highlights) knowledge of the course materials, especially by constructing answers with examples that connect readings, lectures, and films
  • Integrates quotations from textbook, readings, lecture videos, or films (needs to be cited correctly, MLA style (Links to an external site.), and appropriately—not too much quotation, addressed in your own words after citing)
  • Demonstrates deep analytical and critical thinking (through a cultural studies lens)
  • Attentive to the political and historical context of the period, film, filmmaker, movement, etc. being written about
  • When appropriate, develops a strong argument that is proven through well-chosen evidence that is vividly described in your answer

1) Reconstruct the debate between Lerone Bennet and Huey Newton around Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song!. Then, make an argument about where you stand on the debate. (Please balance your own words with quotations and references to their reviews. Highly recommend using specific examples to make your own arguments as well).

2) Closely analyze the following clip. With everything you have learned from Ongiri’s chapter and lecture video 3, construct an argument about the aesthetic, formal choices of this film clip and their possible significance. You may choose to focus on one or two cinematic aspects (mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, sound, narrative structure), but make sure to refer to the clip as a whole (there are distinct, dynamic changes that happen in the clip). The goal is to answer the question of how cinematic form (everything you learned in 85A) constructs meaning elicits spectatorial responses from its viewers.

3) With everything you have learned form this week (the historical and political context of the Black Power era, the debates and varied perspectives around the Blaxploitation genre, and the specificities around Black spectatorship) construct an argument in which you compare Sweetback to Shaft. With the limited space, I recommend focusing on one or two aspects of comparison. Strong answers will think critically, probing questions about power (do these films reproduce, negotiate, or resist dominant relations of power) and attending to the politics of form (cinematic, formal choices are always political).

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