Brown Sugar and Chill?
Have you ever surfed Netflix or Hulu and wished it were just a little bit blacker? Netflix is currently streaming, “The Wiz” but sometimes I find myself looking for unapologetically black classics like Shaft and Foxy Brown. Bounce TV has launched its new service, Brown Sugar, to fix the void in black cult movies that aren’t available on popular subscription services. Can you imagine binge watching blaxploitation movies all weekend and using 70s slang in your office that following Monday? Everybody suddenly becomes a jive turkey.
Pam Grier, Rick Ross and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson are the official ambassadors for the mobile-based app. At 3.99 a month, users can enjoy some of their favorite black films like “The Mack”, “Super Fly”, “Coffy” and “Sparkle”. Brown Sugar is giving users a free month trial and here are some of the movies they already have listed:
I’m Gonna Get You Sucka
Cotton Comes to Harlem
“Brown Sugar is just like Netflix, only blacker,” says Grier.
“Brown Sugar is just like Netflix, only blacker,” says Grier. “These movies are entertaining and fun, but they were also empowering to the black community as they depicted African Americans as strong leading characters and heroes for the first time.”
“You can see the influence of these movies in every aspect of rap and hip-hop,” says Rick Ross, “in the music, the lyrics, the fashion and overall style — the Blaxploitation genre is where it all began.”
Blaxploitation was created in an era where black representation in media and movies was scarce so, in true Afrofuturism fashion, a new genre emerged. Blaxploitation gained popularity and became more mainstream with non-black audiences and Hollywood saw a new way to profit off of a genre that didn’t originally didn’t support. It produced some of the best musical soundtracks with soul and funk artists such as Roy Ayers, James Brown, and Curtis Mayfield. Blaxploitation films also angered the respectability crowd like the NAACP and the National Urban League. They came together like Voltron to form the ultimate hater crew against blaxploitation and called themselves the Coalition Against Blaxploitation. They felt that the genre didn’t showcase Black Americans in the most positive light even though the genre covered romance, westerns, martial arts comedy and musicals.
Literary critic Addison Gayle wrote in 1974, “The best example of this kind of nihilism / irresponsibility are the Black films; here is freedom pushed to its most ridiculous limits; here are writers and actors who claim that freedom for the artist entails exploitation of the very people to whom they owe their artistic existence.” If it weren’t for Blaxploitation movies, there would be no Spike Lee or John Singleton. Afrofuturism is not limited to black respectability art or politics but the ability to see ourselves in every facet of art and media, both good and bad. We do not need to be perfect to play a character and we should not care how non-black and non-people of color audiences view us. Even if we created films and music that showed us in the greatest light, that will never change their prejudices.
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Stay black, stay sweet. Watch some Brown Sugar.