– The written document must do the following:1. Develop your argument via claims and support from the remix project (visual, written, and/or audial elements) and three scholarly secondary sources (two secondary sources must be from our reading schedule).2. Explain why your interpretation matters. (So what?) 3. Be 1000-1200 words in length (typed, double-spaced, 12pt Times New Roman font, with title and page numbers). 4. Include in-text citations and a works cited page for all texts cited (articles, books, films, clips, images, music, etc.). You may use the MLA, Chicago, or APA citation style, as long as you use that citation style consistently.- For my remix project, I decided to take the character Django from the movie Django Unchained, and switch the character from a male to a female. – By doing this, I would change the element of gender roles in movies. Making this change would alter audiences views on the type of role women can play in movies and society- The actor I chose to play the female Django is Taraji P. Henson. I did this because I felt in most of the movies she stars in, she represents a strong woman who isn’t afraid of danger. – Below is my PowerPoint Remix Project that completed. You can use this to work from. – Also below are two sources that I need used to support claims and used to show examples.- If there are any questions let me know please. Thank you!



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The Django Remix
Created by:
Django Unchained (2012)
– Represents the slave who finally stands up for
his people.
– Involved in violent and gruesome actions
throughout the film.
– This character is seen in events that aren’t
typical of a black man during these times:
– Shooting white men
– Fighting white men
– Talking back
– Django shows the interpretation of “what
goes around comes around.”
What if…
 Element that I’m focused on is gender roles
 Typical movies have male and females playing their “roles”
 Men are masculine, strong, and confident
 Women are more emotional, caring, damsel in distress
 Giving women the traits of a male gender role would change audience/peoples
perspective of a woman
Gender Roles/Stereotypes
– In most of the films or text we watched or
read, they displayed racial discrimination
against black individuals.
– Especially the films with slavery.
– The slaves are tormented and broken
down mentally and physically.
– The women slaves in these films are
displayed as helpless and fragile toward
the audience.
– Some might see this as stereotypical
– If this was to be changed, women’s role in
films would not only be changed in the film
industry but society as well.
Women of Empowerment
– Through the years, women have turned
into dominant and historical figures.
– Prime example is Harriet Tubman
– She was a conductor for the
underground railroad, union spy and
women’s suffrage supporter
– “I freed a thousand slaves I could have
freed a thousand more if only they knew
they were slaves.” –Harriet Tubman
– She stood for justice and never showed
fear or intimidation
The Switch Up
Taraji P. Henson
– Henson has played in movies which her
character has a confident and
intimidating factor
– This is something her and Django share
– List of works:
– Hidden Figures (2016)
– Proud Mary (2018)
– Empire (T.V. show)
Aggressive Women
– Women in Cages (1971) displays women
with masculine characteristics.
– The characters in this engage in violent
and reckless behaviors.
– Their vicious behavior changed
people’s perspective on the type of role
women play in movies.
– The character Alabama shows all these
 Instead of Django, Taraji P. Henson’s character would be named Djosephine.
 Similar to Django, she is a slave who turns into a bounty hunter.
 While looking for her husband on Candyland, she challenges the authority of a
white (Calvin Candy).
 We see a black woman going against all the rules and laws to fight for her
husband’s freedom and the pride of her race.
 This is what would change perspectives of audiences of women
Pam Grier
A Phallic Idol of Perversity
and Sexual Charisma
You will note I am deliberately avoiding the recent spate
of so-called black films. I have seen very few of them, and,
anyway, it would be virtually impossible to discuss them as
films. I suspect their intention to be lethal indeed, and to
be the subject of quite another investigation. Their entire
purpose (apart from making money; and this money is not
for blacks; in spite of the fact that some of these films appear to have been at least in part, financed by blacks) is to
stifle forever any possibility of such moments—or, in other
words, to make black experience irrelevant and obsolete.
—James Baldwin
Copyright © 2010. University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.
Black youth know that society at large does
not respect pimps and racketeers, but there is
a certain charisma about them in the ghetto.
—Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint
The movies are so rarely great art, that if we can’t
appreciate great trash, there is little reason for us to go.
—Pauline Kael
I got Coffy and Foxy Brown and Sheba from my womanhood.
—Pam Grier
The early 1970s screen persona of exploitation movie diva Pam Grier
is best understood in the context of social and political events of that dec­
ade. In the final years of the 1960s, major social policy changes engendered
the sexual liberation of American film culture. First introduced in 1960,
Mask, Mia. Divas on Screen : Black Women in American Film, University of Illinois Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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grier: idol of perversit y and se xual charisma
the birth control pill became a symbol for societal change in the Western
world. In November 1968, the second major change occurred: the restrictive
Hollywood Production Code gave way to the new Rating Administration.
The new classification system did not solve the problems Hollywood faced
with censorship but relaxed preexisting codes that forbade any depiction
of obscenity, sexual slavery, miscegenation, nudity, homosexuality, kissing,
or references to sexual perversion. The third significant change was a shift
in legal statutes. In 1969 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Stanley v. Georgia
that people could read and look at whatever they wished in the privacy of
their own homes. The U.S. Congress, in hopes of finding another approach
to controlling what many considered a threat to traditional American values,
authorized $2 million to fund a presidential commission to study pornography in the United States and to recommend what Congress should do
about it. By 1970, the sexual revolution had shown its effects. Films were
no longer subject to prior restraint, nor were they all appropriate for the
same audience. These pharmaceutical, legislative, and industrial initiatives
meant that even when sex, sexuality, and corresponding gender roles were
not explicitly the subject of 1970s cinema, they were often just beneath the
surface, informing the ideological tone, formal texture, or narrative structure
of a motion picture.
At the beginning of the decade, growing distrust of government, struggle
for civil rights, increased influence of the women’s movement, a heightened
concern for the environment, and enhanced space exploration confronted
Americans. The antiwar movement became both more powerful and less
cohesive between 1969 and 1973. Many Americans opposed escalating the
U.S. role in Vietnam yet disapproved of the counterculture that had arisen
alongside the antiwar movement. Leaders of pacifist movements became
increasingly strident, greeting returning soldiers with jeers and taunts on
public streets. Hippies, known for their long hair, casual drug use, and promiscuity, subordinated the clean-cut, well-dressed Students for a Democratic Society as movement leaders. The FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program
(COINTELPRO), discovered in 1971, suppressed Black Panther Party activity.1 Their efforts culminated in Angela Davis’s indictment on murder and
conspiracy charges. Protesting injustice, inequality, and U.S. militarism, musicians such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, and Jimmy Hendrix
performed songs that revealed the widening generation gap. And in 1973
the Supreme Court struck down state laws banning abortions.2 Amid this
climate of war, social realignment, and presidential impeachment proceedings, dystopian visions of American culture thrived.3
Mask, Mia. Divas on Screen : Black Women in American Film, University of Illinois Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
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Created from unc on 2019-01-06 11:02:28.
Copyright © 2010. University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.
60 . diva s on screen
Books published in the 1970s revolved around the broad theme of humanity’s alienation from its spiritual roots. John Updike portrayed characters
trying to find meaning in a spiritually empty society on the brink of moral
decay. Joyce Carol Oates wrote of the search for spiritual meaning. Kurt
Vonnegut explored the loneliness of contemporary society and the power
of hungry materialism pervading it. Author Toni Morrison emerged as one
of the most poignant literary voices to narrate the black American experience as an American experience. Whereas literature addressed mounting
alienation, popular culture wavered between realism and escapism.4 On one
hand, reality sitcoms like Norman Lear’s All in the Family—white America’s
top-rated TV program for the first half of the decade—showed family life
ridden with bigotry and strife. On the other hand, escapist fantasy, horror,
and nostalgia pictures like The Exorcist, Jaws, The Way We Were, American
Graffiti, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Saturday Night Fever captured
mainstream imagination. For African Americans, Blaxploitation offered both
a hint of reality and a dose of fantasy by depicting institutional and individual incidents of racism while simultaneously offering the fantasy that—
like Sweetback, John Shaft, and Cleopatra Jones—brothers and sisters could
kick the Man’s ass. Still, many others rejected such escapist fare and its crude
depiction of black Americans in confrontation with the predominantly white
power structure.
Amid this atmosphere of disaffection and rebellion, the voluptuous Pam
Grier rose to prominence as an idol of perverse sexual pleasures in sexploitation pictures and as a vengeful, coffee-colored femme fatale in Blaxploitation
movies. Her screen persona encapsulated the ethos of personal frustration,
sexual liberation, and political upheaval permeating American society. In an
interview with filmmaker Isaac Julien, Pam Grier acknowledged the direct
relationship between the changing culture and her film roles. “Coffy was
my mom, Foxy Brown was my Aunt and they were women who were very
demonstrative but yet very feminine and knew how to use sexuality. The
sexual movement was raging through the streets, shorts were getting shorter,
skirts were getting shorter, and men’s pants were getting tighter. People were
throwing underwear bras out the window. We had Woodstock. You loved
your naked body. So all of that was about who we were too. And, you could
see that in film.”5
As the freshness of 1950s and 1960s starlets Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha
Kitt, and Abbey Lincoln faded, Pam Grier emerged as one of the new black
female film stars. After all, the time seemed right for Grier to soar, since actresses like Dandridge had already broken some of the color-casting barri-
Mask, Mia. Divas on Screen : Black Women in American Film, University of Illinois Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unc/detail.action?docID=3414010.
Created from unc on 2019-01-06 11:02:28.
grier: idol of perversit y and se xual charisma
Copyright © 2010. University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.
ers. “Well, the 70s for me was the moment when we could really live out the
freedoms and political gains won by the 40s, 50s and 60s,” Grier told Isaac
Julien. “I could come out here, and go to Beverly Hills, and the doors were
open for me to go to night clubs and restaurants and be treated very equal.”
Grier ultimately became the next mainstream African American crossover
phenomenon and sex symbol. Her onscreen persona, which combined brazen
sexuality, physical strength, and Black Nationalist sentiment, informed the
portrayal of action heroines in popular culture years after her early exploitation career had waned (i.e., Posse, 1993; Original Gangstas, 1996). Grier’s
trademark (i.e., her image as a bad-ass femme fatale) left an indelible impression because she embodied the 1970s attitude of cultural defiance manifested
as a kind of Afro-kitsch.6 The uniqueness of her screen persona explains her
appeal to younger audiences and illuminates why Grier was able to make a
late-1990s comeback (i.e., Jackie Brown, 1997; Bones, 2001) rather than fade
into the shadows of film history like some of her contemporaries. Even today, Pam Grier is thankful to the younger generation of film and recording
artists for rediscovering her early film work.
The hip-hop nation found me and put me on a pedestal. Now I’m in the rap
and hip-hop videos. I like the music. I dance to it. I work out to it. These young
people could be my children. They love R & B. Snoop loves R & B. That’s all
he plays. He gets all his style and a lot of his sampling from R & B back in the
day ’cause that’s all his parents played. So, all of a sudden, Quentin said: “You
know what? What you did, and who you were, what you represent . . . are still
very important. And, these kids see something and feel something. Most can
articulate what it was but many can’t. They just like the fact that you stood
up, you were a hero and who do we have to look up to now? There’s you, you
know. Black Jane Bond.”
As a result of her unique persona and resurgent career, Pam Grier is—and
will remain—a definitive icon of 1970s popular culture, an exploitation movie
diva of the silver screen.
By confronting male authority onscreen and representing black women as
both sexually and intellectually self-determined, Grier altered the depiction
of black women in cinema. No individual actor can single-handedly subvert
the exclusionary practices, institutional racism, heterosexist logic, ageist
mythos, or nationalist tendencies endemic to Hollywood. Nor are Grier’s
superwoman characters defendable as socially minded portraits of real political figures. The exploitation roles she accepted were limiting, repetitive,
and often-simplistic caricatures. But like other forms of kitsch and camp,
Mask, Mia. Divas on Screen : Black Women in American Film, University of Illinois Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unc/detail.action?docID=3414010.
Created from unc on 2019-01-06 11:02:28.
Copyright © 2010. University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.
62 . diva s on screen
they were popular, and as a consequence, they catapulted her to stardom. As
the queen of Blaxploitation cinema, she—more than her contemporaries Tamara Dobson (Cleopatra Jones, 1973), Carol Speed (The Mack, 1973), Vonetta
McGee (Shaft in Africa, 1973), Diahann Carroll (Paris Blues, 1961; Claudine,
1974), and Eartha Kitt (Anna Lucasta, 1959)—personified the sultry leading
lady, slightly altering the screen image of black women as merely passive
objects onto which stereotypes of the mammy, the sexual siren, and the
comic Topsy have historically been projected. She belongs in the pantheon
of radical 1970s film stars (i.e., Raquel Welch in Myra Breckinridge, 1970;
Jane Fonda in Klute, 1971; Julie Christie in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, 1971; Faye
Dunaway in Chinatown, 1974) responsible for the paradigmatic shift away
from women represented solely as sexual objects of the gaze toward women
as subjects propelling the narrative, working as active agents and intelligent
Despite numerous star vehicles, television and Broadway appearances, and
her late-1990s reemergence as a TV celebrity, there is limited scholarship or
film criticism addressing Pam Grier’s career. This critical quiet surrounds
Grier and her African American contemporaries. Perhaps Grier’s star vehicles received little scholarly attention because they were known for narrative
simplicity, sexual sensationalism, and technical deficiency. As Eric Schaefer
noted in his well-researched history of exploitation cinema, these movies “are
usually thought of as ethically dubious, industrially marginal, and aesthetically bankrupt.”8 At the time of their release, African American artists and
intellectuals like James Baldwin rejected the image of black life projected by
these pictures. Perhaps Baldwin (wearied by the repetitiveness of Blaxploitation) read these films too literally, glossing over their camp elements. But to
dismiss sexploitation films as crude or trashy precludes any examination of
their form, their content, their appeal to spectators, or the relationship between high and low film culture. It also creates a double standard not applied
to other exploitation subgenres and proves reductive for several reasons.
The question of the relationship of art to trash is not purely an intellectual
dilemma, but a painful and baffling phenomenon of lived experience.9 Philosophers long ago established that taste is an abstract sociological fiction.
Studying taste as an independent abstraction, David Hume concluded that
the beauty of objects exists in the mind of the beholder and is profoundly
personal. Exploitation films are not high art by any beholder’s observation.
But viewing them as camp, we can better understand their appeal to spectators
at particular historical moments. Further, the production conditions Schaefer
outlines above describe virtually all Blaxploitation films, many of which (e.g.,
Mask, Mia. Divas on Screen : Black Women in American Film, University of Illinois Press, 2010. ProQuest Ebook
Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/unc/detail.action?docID=3414010.
Created from unc on 2019-01-06 11:02:28.
Copyright © 2010. University of Illinois Press. All rights reserved.
grier: idol of perversit y and se xual charisma
Shaft, Blacula, Superfly, Cotton Comes to Harlem) received critical, historical,
and theoretical analysis in cultural studies (Neal, 2002) and African American
screen studies (i.e., Cripps, 1990; Bogle, 1989; Guerrero, 1993; Hartman, 1994;
Medovoi, 1998) despite their status as lowbrow entertainment. Production
value has not deterred film historians or critics from rigorously considering
the history of exploitation (Schaefer, 1999), sexploitation (Friedman, 1990;
Hubner, 1992; Miller, 1994; Sullivan, 1995), pornography (Turan & Zito, 1974;
Williams, 1989, 1993), teen exploitation (Doherty, 1998), horror exploitation
(Weaver, 1988, 1993; Skal, 1993), or other so-called exploitative genres with
low budgets, repetitive formulas, self-conscious acting, camp aesthetics, or
technical clumsiness. Grier’s films should be no exception.
The critical silence around Grier’s work may reflect the layers embedded
in her screen persona. Neither racial role model nor simple stereotype, Pam
Grier’s 1970s persona was multifaceted. Her screen characters fused feminist
sensibilities, campy “butch-femme” aesthetics, Black Nationalist radicalism,
and women’s subjectivity. The ambiguity regarding the placement of Grier’s
persona is a function of the overlapping genres (i.e., action, cult, science fiction, sexploitation, Blaxploitation) and cinematic styles (realist and camp)
of the films in which she appeared. She portrayed a monstrous femme fatale
in the campy B science-fiction picture The Twilight People (1972), a vengeful femme fatale in Blaxploitation movies like Coffy (1973) and Sheba, Baby
(1975), an action heroine in The Arena (1973), and an investigative detective–
working girl in Foxy Brown (1974) and Friday Foster (1975). These exploitation films, with lewdly explicit sex scenes, gratuitous violence, and mundane
dialogue, became cult-movie10 sensations primarily because they expressed
countercultural sentiments and because they projected audience fantasies of
rebellion against authority, propriety, and social conventions.
In a discussion of cult cinema, Umberto Eco has offered an explanation
of the way certain films emerge as cult objects.11 For Eco, such pictures are
not necessarily produced by word of mouth, nor are they necessarily classic
films turned cult favorites like Casablanca (e.g., produced with large budgets, stars, and technical expertise, proving profitable). Cult cinema includes
“outsider cinema” and underground cinema, bizarre films with low budgets,
character actors, and remote locales. These movies are “born in order to become cult objects.”12 They make direct intertextual reference to other motion
pictures, and they subtly allude to other films. The enjoyment of these movies
is heightened for audiences familiar with film language and the repertoire of
archetypes encoded by genre movies. …
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