Guy Lochhead, 18/02/12
American stand-up comedian best known for playing articulate gangster pimp Dolemite onstage and in a series of blaxploitation films, starting in 1975. He was one of the first people to use African American Vernacular English on record and film, delivered in a rhyming, staccato way that pre-dates rap. His early works were so controversial that stores refused to stock them on the shelves. Rudy’s records were stored behind the counter in a plain brown wrapper. In order to buy one, you had to know to ask a clerk to get you a copy. Despite this, many of his albums made the Billboard Top 25. The early blaxploitation directors used sex and violence to get an audience, who they then hoped would take on some of the messages of black independence and empowerment conveyed in the plot and dialogue. Nowadays I hope that this approach is not as necessary (or, if it is, that standards of violence and sexualisation have changed so much that the cardboard acting and predictable stories of most of these films wouldn’t hack it), and see these movies more as relics on the road to a fairer culture.