This 1992 Documentary Explores the Role Black Science Fiction Plays in Pop Culture

This short clip is an excerpt from the 1992 film Black Sci-Fi, a documentary produced as part of the Birthrights series for BBC2. The documentary focuses on black science fiction in popular culture and includes interviews with noted black writers like Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, and Steven Barnes. The clip above focuses on author Mike Sargeant who, in between shots of him walking the streets dressed like Beat It-era Michael Jackson, discusses the tropes and stereotypes that plague black characters in science fiction. Any lover of late ’70s/early ’80s sci-fi flicks will remember actor Paul Winfield and his numerous roles playing the black-sidekick-who-gets-killed. Or, in the case of Damnation Alley, gets eaten by giant cockroaches.

At 21-years-old, the documentary does feel rather dated, but the issue of diversity in pop culture is one that we still struggle with today. “It’s very important to me now to have ourselves represented in the future in positive roles,” Sargeant explains. “In roles where we’re not the second or underling character or a stereotype. Or like in Total Recall where we have gold teeth and drive a cab and turn out to be mutants and traitors.”

*tiny voice*…I liked Total Recall.

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