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Trick Baby And How It Ranks As A Blaxploitation Film

By Sandra Mitchell

Films in the Blaxploitation genre can have unusual or common themes central to their plots. But often, and with the best of them, they usually nod at issues that are traditional elements of African American societies. These are different from usual exploitation films, which tend to be very derogatory about its subjects.

There was a film released in 1972 that might have been so good as to have really defined the genre. This film was entitled Trick Baby, from the novel of the same name, written by a former African American pimp named Iceberg Slim. It is a novel that was intensely written, but the movie failed to be interesting enough in this way, watered down.

This story revolves around the friendship between two conmen working in the African underground. These are White Folks and Blue Howard, who live and operate in Philadelphia, and Folks is a biracial person who can be mistaken for white. It is the one fact that makes their partnership in crime relatively successful, and they are planning a new one.

The racial tensions obviously propel this plot, but then it can be expected from the work of an author with very intense experiences in the African underworld, and his books were even bestsellers in his genre. Delineation of character was present in a watered down sense, and Folks was especially cited for having a ho hum and forgettable performance. There was no focus on being black and male, and that was something that could have really made the difference.

White Folks is the product of a black woman who had a baby from a white customer, thus the title. The accident of birth becomes the locus through which both film and book moves, although in the movie the intensity was seen as lacking. Production went ahead to complete a feature that works with subjects easily told through the visual medium.

With this item, it can be seen how the film may explain its ignoring the most relevant issues related to a biracial criminal. Because of this, all that the film became was one more cliched item in the litany of themes on black crimes. The relationship between both protagonists became a buddy thing, making this movie a feel good one with nothing to say about realities on the ground but everything to gain in box office.

Films from Hollywood will tend to be dehumanizing, concentrating more on great visuals than focusing on the story elements. This defect is something that is still present, and so whatever films there are that are found meritorious in a story sense will not end up successful, in comparison to those that tend to con people.

The con being hatched by the two friends is nearly stopped on its tracks by the Mafia and a crooked cop. This twist is so cliched that most film goers can predict the ending, but even with critics howling, it is a thing beloved by producers. As with many features, the main point was overtaken by concerns about box office success in the end.

Larry Yust, the director, softened the impact of the story so that it could be accepted by most American moviegoers. However, these are people that cry from sensitivity while ignoring the blasphemies they find in their midst. Black culture provides so many telling things about the country, that the movie had to be watered down, maybe.

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