Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933, is a venerable institution in the media world. For more than 75 years, Kirkus has served as the industry bible for bookstore buyers, librarians, and ordinary readers alike. Now Popdose is proud to announce our partnership with this titan of American publishing.
We’ve joined the Kirkus Book Bloggers Network. Every week, a rotating crew of your favorite Popdose writers will grace the virtual pages of Kirkus Reviews Online, taking on the best — and sometimes the worst — in pop-culture and celebrity books. From coffee-table studies to quickie unauthorized bios, if it’s about show biz, it’s fair game.
We’re kicking things off this week with a memoir from one of cinema’s secret heroines. Now read on …
Sucker Punch opened last weekend to big box office and divided reviews. The critics couldn’t seem to decide whether writer/director Zack Snyder’s lurid epic of barely-legal babes swordfighting with zombie robots — whilst wearing naughty-schoolgirl outfits — constituted actual fanboy service, or a contemptuous parody of same, subversively keying into the pulped-out imagery that the boys in his audience think they crave, then force-feeding it to them til they puke. These young women, kicking asses while flashing their own — are they being celebrated, or objectified, or both?
We’ve been here before. We heard the same questions in the early 1970s, when the crowd being courted was the urban African-American audience. And Pam Grier lived through (and with) the question of empowerment vs. exploitation, as recounted in her memoir Foxy: My Life in Three Acts (written with Andrea Cagan; Springboard Press, 2010).
Like gangsta rap decades later, blaxploitation cinema — racy ghetto melodramas aimed at an African-American audience — was the subject of moralistic hand-wringing in its time. With its outlaw heroes pitted against corrupt white authority, the argument went, blaxploitation glamorized illegal behavior while trafficking in harmful stereotypes. The counter-argument was that the films represented to audiences an empowering catharsis in reaction against conditions as they already existed in the hood, and that their violent and sexual content begged consideration in context.
Whatever else blaxploitation did, it made Pam Grier a movie star.
Read the rest of this article at Kirkus Reviews!