Sweet Sweetback (1971)

 Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song Viewing Questions  Try to be specific with your responses; give details from the film and explain the impressions they build. Wherever possible, try to talk about form and style, not just plot, action, or lines of dialogue. Remember, the responses that you submit must be your own work; do not use do outside research to help you answer these questions or work with your classmates. If you do, you will at minimum receive zero points for that set of questions, but you also risk failing the entire assignment or the class. 1. As we discussed in class, sexuality and sexual prowess are central to Blaxploitation films. How is Sweetback’s character constituted and defined by his sexuality? Where can we find evidence of his desirability and sexual prowess? At the same time, think about how this sexual content is represented – how do character movement, framing, sound, and editing represent Sweetback’s sexuality? Do the ways that Sweetback’s sexual encounters are filmed reaffirm or contradict the idea that he’s a desirable man and gifted lover? 2. Sweet Sweetback also emphasizes the physicality of masculine power. How does the film emphasize Sweetback’s body? Where and how is his physical strength emphasized? How does he use his body as a means of empowerment? Think about costume, setting, character position, framing, and editing, as well as action or lines of dialogue. 3. Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton praised Sweet Sweetback as an “agent of community building.” Where does the film emphasize the power of community and black unity? Think about how this sense of unity is emphasized in film style and in the sound track of the film, as well as in moments where characters work together. In contrast, where and how does the film emphasize silence, white noise and/or sparse and empty frames?


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