Project Row Houses: Classified X

Even Lena Horne couldn’t make up for Mammy

Filmmaker, novelist, Air Force bombardier, Wall Street trader, composer, actor and provocateur, Melvin Van Peebles loves to kick white butt. He did it way before his 1971 genre-defining blaxploitation hit Sweet Sweetback’s Baadsssss Song, and he continued even after this 1998 made-for-European-TV documentary Classified X, which he wrote and narrated. Brash, uncompromising and raw, the film takes a searing, highly idiosyncratic look into the history of Hollywood’s portrayal of African Americans. It’s not a pretty sight, even with Lena Horne and Sidney Poitier in the mix. He pushes our face into the movies’ insulting bigotry and stereotyping, which were often “messing with my mind…with their dancin’, chicken-stompin’, rapin’, quakin’ darkies.” Toms, coons, mulattoes, mammies, and bucks get their just desserts, as do the post-WWII “new Negro,” the false myth of the tiny world of independent black films, and a touching tribute to the one black character who went through an entire movie without having to kiss a single ass — Sam, in Casablanca. Classified X will be screened outdoors. 8:45 p.m. Project Row Houses, 2521 Holman. For information, call 713-526-7662 or visit www.projectrowhouses.org. Free.
Fri., June 26, 8:45 p.m., 2009

 
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