Sweet Sweetback's Tireless Efforts.

You ever notice how all the celebrity white folk who use the N-word

(Niagra? Nigeria? Ignoramus?)

are the same celebrity white folk who have no impact upon your life whatsoever? The only reason I know who Dog The Bounty Hunter is is because Cartman parodied him on South Park a season or two ago. Now, apparently he's a racist. Or a non-black, I can't decide.

I downloaded this movie a few years ago - entitled "Baadasssss!" - and never got around to watching it until last week. Directed by Mario Van Peebles, it's the true story of his father - acclaimed African American director Melvin Van Peebles - sticking it to the white man by making the groundbreaking film "Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song."

Baadasssss! is a film that presents itself as a quasi-documentary, only instead of interviewing the real people involved, they interview the ACTORS playing the real people involved. Anyway, up to this point (this point being 1971 U.S. America), black people in cinema were always portrayed as the butlers, or the clowns, or whatever stereotype you can think of in movies and television. And as for black directors? Forget about it; there were like three, and Mario Van Peebles' father was one of them. For a while there, he towed the company line, making insipid black comedies that made money while not offending any potential white audience-goer (and greatly degrading any potential black audience-goer).

Then, he got the inspiration to make a movie about the ultimate badass (mind you, this is all pre-Shaft). Since he couldn't get funding - because no white-owned company in their right mind would put up money for a film depicting white cops as bad people - he decided to fund it himself.

Well, he almost went blind in the process, what with the long nights and hard work involved, but he got the film made. And he even found a production company to get it out in theaters. Well ... theater. As in one, as in one in Detroit, and even THEY wanted to bill it with two other films in some kind of discount triple-feature (apparently, they did this a lot in those days).

He convinced the theater owners to bill it alone and by the end of the first day it had made more money for the theater than all the previous week's films combined. The rest is history; this was the precursor to all the black empowerment movies of the later 70s, which in turn has led to black people getting better roles in straight cinema, which has led to Oscar nominations and victories, etc.

I found the most entertaining elements about this film included seeing Rainn Wilson in a prominent co-starring role as Melvin's hippie friend, and the fact that the Sweet Sweetback character in the film he's making only has 6 lines throughout. Now I've gotta see this movie! A main character with only 6 lines! You don't GET more baadasssss than that!