(1971)3.5Lucia BozzolaFinanced and distributed outside the major Hollywood studio apparatus, Sweetback not only broke the rules of Hollywood structure with its energetic montages and jump cuts, it also revealed the financial force of the African-American audience. With its powerful African-American hero expressing rage at the white world in a story starring "the Black Community," as opposed to Hollywood's de-sexed paragons of African-American dignity, the five-hundred-thousand dollar Sweetback grossed more than ten million dollars in 1971, almost all of it from African-American viewers. Driven more by profits than political awareness, the Hollywood studios swiftly followed the example of Sweetback with a wave of early '70s blaxploitation movies, such as Shaft (1971) and Superfly (1972), cashing in by combining a black hero (or heroine) succeeding over white adversaries with copious sex and violence. However, subsequent objections from African-American critics -- that Sweetback's romanticization of the ghetto and male sexual potency was hardly the revolutionary statement Van Peebles would have it be -- also carried over to the blaxploitation formula. As far as the original, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song loses none of its positive or negative power to provoke even decades after it was made.
cast-crew for Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song on AllMovie