Project Row Houses: Classified X

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 Free.

Fri., June 26, 8:45 p.m., 2009

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D.L. Groover has contributed to countless reputable publications including the Houston Press since 2003. His theater criticism has earned him a national award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) as well as three statewide Lone Star Press Awards for the same. He's co-author of the irreverent appreciation, Skeletons from the Opera Closet (St. Martin's Press), now in its fourth printing.
Contact: D. L. Groover