From ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’ in 1971 to Spike Lee’s ‘Malcom X’ in 1992.
■ MELVIN VAN PEEBLES’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song premieres in Detroit in March, signaling a new direction in African American film and culture. Directed guerrilla-style in Watts, it ridicules SIDNEY POITIER’s ultra-assimilated image, instigates Hollywood’s blaxploitation era, and projects rebellious black heroism in visual terms that will echo in pop music iconography 20 years later. It will impact the black intelligentsia more directly than the working-class blacks who will frequent blaxploitation flicks.
■ MUHAMMAD ALI, back fighting after being stripped of his title for refusing to violate his vows as a Muslim minister and register for the draft, has his comeback derailed by defending champ JOE FRAZIER at Madison Square Garden. Despite this defeat, Ali’s religious commitment and boastful, poetic arrogance bridge ’60s activism and ’80s style.