On Blaxploitation and Breaking Limitations: The Radical Influence of Nichelle Nichols

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Meg Shields

June 15, 2020Illustration issues. Simply ask Nichelle Nichols.Welcome to The Queue — your every day distraction of curated video content material sourced from throughout the online.
Like with most offshoots of the exploitation style, it may be difficult to reconcile the “exploitation” a part of blaxploitation.  On the one hand: blaxploitation created an explosion of American cinema dominated by, for, and about communities of coloration. However: a lot of the white-helmed studios overseeing blaxploitation cinema have been solely interested by making a fast buck, which meant an emphasis on damaging stereotypes.
Nichelle Nichols solely starred in a single blaxploitation movie. After she appeared as a foul-mouthed madam reverse Isaac Hayes in 1974’s Truck Turner, she swore off the style. For Nichols, the promise of blaxploitation — that it will create alternatives for Black filmmakers to inform tales about Black characters that have been multifaceted, human, and sophisticated — wasn’t being fulfilled.
Nichols is aware of a factor or two concerning the significance of on-screen illustration. Earlier than Truck Turner, she was breaking obstacles on Star Trek as Lieutenant Uhura, essentially the most seen Black girls on tv through the Civil Rights period. Within the interview clip beneath, Nichols describes her position in Black illustration on-screen, from her temporary stint in blaxploitation to her iconic position as Uhura. Nichols additionally describes the time period after Star Trek‘s first season when she thought-about quitting the present, and the way Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. satisfied her to remain.
You may watch “Nichelle Nichols – On Blaxploitation and Breaking Limitations” right here:

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Who made this?
This unique clip comes courtesy of Reelblack, based in 2007 by NYU and AFI alum Michael J. Dennis (The 13th Modification). Reelblack’s mission is to teach, enlighten, entertain, and empower individuals by means of Black movie. The above clip comes from the press room on the 2008 East Coast Black Age of Comics Conference and options Nichelle Nichols and journalist Raymond Tyler. you’ll be able to subscribe to Reelback on YouTube right here. And you may observe them on Twitter right here.
Extra Movies Like This
Right here’s a video from the Smithsonian Channel on how Lieutenant Uhura broke obstacles on and off-screen
A clip from Discovery UK on that historic kiss
There are a bunch of blaxploitation movies hosted on Reelblack’s YouTube account, together with the 1973 Ron O’Neil crime drama Tremendous Fly T.N.T.
Baadasssss Cinema, a documentary about blaxploitation that gives a stable introduction to the style. Honest warning: there are lots of talking-head clips of Quentin Tarantino being a maniac
Nichelle Nichols desires you to work on the House Shuttle Enterprise on this government-produced movie from 1977
Right here’s Movement In Artwork on why 2009’s Black Dynamite is a unbelievable parody of the Blaxploitation style (in an period outlined by lackluster parodies)

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