Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Adam Bradley

Second Advisor

L. Kaifa Roland

Third Advisor

Jeremy Green

Fourth Advisor

Mark Winokur


This thesis seeks to re-characterize the blaxploitation as a genre of many positive contributions to Black film. In looking at the positive reception of today's Black film (2010-2018) I argue that much of what blaxploitation films are criticized for still exists today and are not inherently negative facets of the movies. Furthermore, I argue that blaxploitation is not exploitative in the ways it was demonized for, paying particular attention to audience reception, autonomy among Black characters, and autonomy among filmmakers. Despite previous treatments of the films, they present Black men in positions of power, Black women in positions of sexual ownership and desire, and a world and narrative that resonated with Black audiences. While today’s treatment of the films has improved, and blaxploitation is being revisited as an important part of film history and the Black aesthetic, I seek to further this argument with new emphasis on audience autonomy and by deconstructing the dichotomy that has always existed of substantive versus simple, entertaining film