|Vintage Pulp||May 2 2012|
There came a moment around 1970 in the U.S. when movie producers realized that African-Americans liked cinema too, and tailoring content to serve their tastes—the same way white tastes had been prioritized since the advent of cinema—might prove profitable. They bet that blacks would enjoy seeing themselves represented onscreen, even if many of the representatons were caricatures. But they did it on the cheap, with heavy-handed writers, inexperienced directors, and untested actors. The genre that would be called blaxploitation was the result. While the films were putatively black, the money behind them was almost always white, or at least establishment, but the bet paid off—blaxploitation was a cultural explosion. Well, the same thing happened around the same time with at least one tabloid. Above is a May 1969 cover for It’s Happening.
So, what do you get here? The cover says it’s “the news others dare not print,” but basically, it’s the same as tabs like National Informer and Midnight, only with that added black/white spice on every page. But this is not ebony and ivory together forever in perfect harmony like Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney once sang. Who’d buy such a newspaper? No, Americans prefer to lay down their hard earned coin for fear, strife, anger, rape and pillage. The stories, in classic ’70s tabloid fashion, are basically flights of editorial fancy matched to whatever handout photos happened to be languishing in the file cabinet. Thus we learn about a white mom seducing black boys, a black beauty’s boobs that put a potential white rapist in a trance, and so forth. We don’t think it’s black published. Why? Well, for one thing, the noun usage is suspect, as in the back page story headlined: Sports Scene Now Belongs to the Blacks. If you were black, would you refer to yourself as “the blacks”?
We managed to score a few of these, and there’s no publication information in any of the issues, in fact no masthead at all—which we think lends credence to our suspicion that it was put together by a bunch of snickering yuppies in some garage in suburbia—but we’ll see if we can ferret out the paper’s provenance. Whoever put it out, we’re certain they saw it as satire, and imagined it would, in a decade or two, be remembered as a humorous artifact of a forgotten, racially divided age. Hah hah. Joke’s on them. Here we are, nearly half a century later, and it’s pretty clear that we humans are not intelligent to the extent that we can conquer the hatreds that divide us. Isn't that just hilarious? Er, maybe not. You can see another It's Happening here, and we have more coming soon.