– Dolemite Vs The Mack Essay, Research Paper
In the early 70’s, “Mainstream films did
nothing to give black people a sense that they were powerful and physically
beautiful, or, at least for black women, that they were desired if they
were darker than a brown grocery sack.” (McKissack). That is why blaxploitation
films started to come out. The genre was the most productive period
in black film making, but it is often difficult to track the titles down.
“At a time when most black men realized a fundamental freedom and power
over their lives was denied at every turn, the pimp, for better or worse,
was equated with self assertion”. (Quoted in McKissack). Two movies,
Dolemite and The Mack, are both blaxploitation movies about pimps which
clearly show the conditions and inherent social problems behind the blaxploitation
phenomenon. Blaxploitation movies affected the music industry as
well, because modern hip hop music is derived from these movies.
Dolemite, starring and produced by Rudy
Ray Moore, was made in 1975. “Directed by D’Urville Martin, Dolemite
deals with a street smart pimp who was framed by the 4th ward’s biggest
dope dealer, Willie Green (played by D’Urville Martin). After two
years in jail, Dolemite is released to help apprehend Willie Green and
avenge the death of his nephew, Little Jimmy.” (Goodwin). “The self
proclaimed ‘King of Party Records’ pooled his money and produced Dolemite
on a “low, low, low, low” budget. ‘I was made fun of here in Los
Angeles,’ Says Moore. ‘They called me a fool and said I was spending
all my money and the movie would never get shown.” (Damiani). “Moore
persisted despite his critics. His efforts resulted in a timeless
gem of low-budget brilliance filled with rhyming banter, stagy fight scenes,
rampant sex, patchwork leisure suits and some of the most quotable lines
in movie history.” (Damiani).
Dolemite has had a positive influence on
rap music. “Rudy uses a short story-telling pattern in his films
and it’s rap artists who have kept those traditions alive. They (rap artists)
have re-invented many of the figures who appeared in Blaxploitation films.
Moore has had an amazing influence on the music,” (Quoted in Damiani).
The legend of Dolemite has been kept alive by the medium that Moore helped
define: rap music. Moore has been sampled over 70 times by big-time artists
like Dr. Dre and Easy E, recorded with Big Daddy Kane and Busta Rhymes,
and been given lyrical nods by Ice T and Snoop Doggy Dog. He is widely
known as the “Godfather of Rap.” “The King of the Party Record.” “The master
of the pimpin’ lifestyle.” (Damiani). Not surprisingly, the soundtracks
to blaxploitation movies are usually very very good. For example,
Yvonne Gomez said this about the soundtrack to Superfly, another blaxploitation
movie: “As an album, Superfly was an artistic masterwork and a commercial
hit. Curtis’ fourth solo album and first soundtrack, it became his second
of three gold albums and topped the Billboard pop chart for four weeks.”.
“The Mack was a 1973 film starring Max
Julien as Goldie, a recently released convict who enters the highly lucrative
pimping business on the mean streets of Oakland” (McKissack). “The
movie tried to be a morality play involving two brothers, one a pimp, the
other a black nationalist. The two are at constant odds, until white
policemen, upset that Goldie won’t pay them protection money, kill their
mother. This act brings the brothers together in an attempt to clean
up the streets.” (McKissack). The Mack was first released on video
in 1991, and in 1997, it had sold 67,000 copies.
The movies are similar to each other because
the main characters are both pimps who are persecuted by racist cops, and
have had enough of it. I think Dolemite is more of a comedy than
The Mack is, because The Mack tried to be serious. In Dolemite, the
police work for Willie Green, so they are corrupt, and the police in The
Mack are corrupt because they want Goldie to pay protection money.
There seems to be a trend of “the white man” being racist police officers
in all of the blaxploitation movies I have seen, because that is what the
movies are about. Both The Mack and Dolemite have the same theme,
but I consider each of them worth watching for their individual merit.