A genre of American film that surfaced in the 1970s featuring stereotypical representations of African-American culture that were mostly written and directed by white men. The films were nonetheless extremely popular among black audiences, possibly because they were among the handful of movies which dealt primarily with black men and women, bringing them to the foreground, and because they had endings which were generally favourable to the central character. When set in the North, blaxploitation films tended to take place in the ghetto and deal with pimps, drug dealers, and hit men; when set in the South, the movies most often took place on a plantation and dealt with slavery and miscegenation. Almost all of them featured exaggerated sexuality and violence. Some film scholars defend the movies today, arguing that the genre was instrumental in allowing African-Americans greater screen presence, as well as greater latitude in "mainstream" film-making as actors, directors, and writers. The genre lasted only a few years, dying out before the end of the 1970s, though their influence can still be seen in later films such as "New Jack City" (1991), "Dead Presidents" (1995), "Jackie Brown" (1997) and the most recent version of "Shaft" (2000). Pictured: Richard Roundtree as Detective John Shaft in "Shaft" (1971), the first major Hollywood success in the blaxploitation field.
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