A 2021 Film Journey: Day 46

Another weekend came and went far too quickly for me. I feel just as tired today as I did last week, but I’m hoping things will let up eventually so I can feel refreshed. In the meantime, I’m back to limited viewing and writing time during the week. On the bright side, I did find the time to plan my next week of Black director viewings, so finding an appropriate movie won’t be an additional stress. Speaking of which, tonight’s viewing is a classic blaxploitation flick.

Shaft (1971, Dir. Gordon Parks)

Image result for shaft 1971

Does this count as a blind spot movie? I know that everyone knows of Shaft and everyone knows the ‘Theme from Shaft’, but how many people who weren’t around when it came out have actually seen the film? Blind spot status aside, it was tonight’s viewing and a fun one at that. Richard Roundtree is a joy to watch as the brilliantly charismatic John Shaft. He exudes power and confidence all to a score that absolutely slaps.

Attempting to put Shaft in context 50 years after its creation is an interesting thought experiment. At the time, it was pretty clearly a power fantasy. Parks uses the character of Shaft, a Black man who both works with the cops and gets under their skin, as a sort of wish fulfillment. He possesses all the power of the white man, but with the soul and style of a Black man. 50 years later, Black people are just as oppressed by cops as they were in the 70s, but the power fantasy has changed. There’s an understanding that the power structure is broken; that even when a Black person attains the power of a cop, they just become a part of the problem. Shaft may have been a power fantasy in 1971, but in 2021 it’s more important to rebel against the system than to join it, even in one’s dreams.

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