Recently a college professor suggested that I watch a documentary called Classified X from actor and director Melvin Van Peebles. Now the name rang a bell, but something was off… until it came to me, Mario Van Peebles. Mario was the actor from New Jack City, Ali, and Carlitos Way among many other movies and TV shows. Melvin is Mario’s father who played a critical role in the film industry, often credited for the first blaxploitation film with his movie Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song which was released before Shaft. But that is enough background info about the director. Classified X was released in 1998, and the fact that I am just stumbling across it is kind of upsetting. More people need to be aware of documentaries like this. Very educational and informative, it explores the racially stereotyped portrayal of African Americans in American film and television over the past 100 years. If you are interested in learning about American cinema-film and television, racism in America or the representation of African Americans, then you have come to the right place. Not only does this documentary speak on the portrayal of African Americans but also the power of these illustrations and how they “mess with my mind” as Melvin put it. Stay open minded to Melvins thoughts and ideas, and I promise it will shine a light on the dark things you have seen.
You can order a high quality version of the DVD here! But just so you know it is worthy, I found the entire documentary uploaded on YouTube in 6 parts. Not the best quality since it was uploaded a while ago, but it gets the job done. Enjoy~