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In todays culturally diverse politically correct society it is hard to believe that at one time racism was not only accepted as the norm but enjoyed for its entertainment value Individuals of African descent in North America today take the large diverse pool of opportunities offered by the film industry for granted Much like Canadian theatre however there was a time when a black man in any role be it servant or slave was virtually unheard of It took the blaxpliotation films of the early nineteen seventies to change the stereotypical depiction of Black people in American Cinema as it took The Farm Story performed by a small troop of Canadian actors to create a Canadian theatre industry To be more specific it took the release of Melvin Van Peebles Sweet Sweetbacks Baadasssss Song in 1971 to change the tradition view of Black people in American film Porters tom was the first in a long line of socially acceptable Good Negro characters Always as toms are chased harassed hounded flogged enslaved and insulted they keep the faith ner turn against their massas and remain hearty submissive stoic generous selfless and oh-so-very kindBogle4 The early silent period of cinema introduced five basic archetypes for Black characters the Tom the Coon the Tragic Mulatto the Mammy and finally the Brutal Black Buck Americas first Black character found manifestation as the aforementioned Uncle Tom in Edwin S Porters Uncle Toms Cabin which was released in 1903 The paradox was that in actuality Tom wasnt Black at all Instead he was portrayed by a nameless slightly overweight actor made up in blackfaceBoggle 4 This was a common practice developed by the theater and carried over as were many of the acting techniques to silent film
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