With the release of Think Like a Man coming this Friday April 20th, African-American film seems to be getting a boost outside of Tyler Perry’s ‘Madea’ character. During the 20th century, black film had a place in mainstream popular culture. Movies like Brown Sugar, The Brothers and Two Can Play That Game, supplied African-American movie goers with a healthy dose of black culture and urban entertainment. In these films, African-American characters have wealth, culture, and views outside of stereotypes. Unfortunately, this greatly differs from the portrayal of African-American characters in films from the 1970s.
Blaxploitation films were hugely popular in the United States in the 1970s within the urban black audience. These films primarily featured African-Americans as stereotypical and unable to grow outside of urban subculture. The most popular Blaxploitation films: Foxy Brown, Shaft, Blacula, and The Mack were the only films African-American movie goers had as examples of black characters on film. Although these films would seem comical or satirical to the 21century movie goer, they were a serious look at how blacks were perceived in the media. The icons of these times were hyper-masculine characters like Shaft, uber-sassy women like Foxy Brown, and misogynists like The Mack.
Luckily, film directors such as Spike Lee, and Tyler Perry were able to breathe new life into black characters by removing the satire. Lee prefers to use his films to break stereotypes within the black community, unlike Perry who uses stereotypes to send messages and introduce religion. Unfortunately, these two directors do not always agree on how African-Americans characters should be perceived to the audience, but they do agree on the lack of characters of color all together.
On Friday, April 20th, Think Like a Man will debut in theaters domestically, and this will be the first predominantly black film of the year. Notable actors such as, Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Megan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, and Regina Hall will come together in a romantic comedy based on the book penned by comedian, radio personality, and author Steve Harvey. So far, critics and reviewers have given the film mixed reviews, but the star-studded cast should help entice movie goers. As with most films, skip the scientific breakdowns, and seek entertainment by seeing the film and then judging for yourself.