The Forgotten Indie — “House Party”

by S.L. Fevre

Matt Barone at BET writes up the place House Party has in making indie film viable. The movie, celebrating its 25th anniversary, starred rappers Kid ‘n’ Play. It used the house party theme to zero in on some of the difficulties that still face African-Americans in the U.S. Audiences wanted to see it because of its blend of 80s party movie and the increasing influence of rap and hip hop culture.

It was awarded two major awards at 1990’s Sundance, at a time when the festival was synonymous with risky indies instead of posh studio premieres. Barone asks why House Party, perhaps more responsible than any other movie for making indie film viable in the 1990s, is rarely remembered along with later successes like Clerks and Pulp Fiction.

It’s a good question, and Barone offers several reasons. One of these is the most obvious – that it originates from, stars, and examines the lives of African-Americans. What made House Party relevant back then is what makes critics dismiss its importance today. After an Oscars that featured no minority actors nominated, the view of film that’s popularized today is one that originates from, stars, and examines the lives of white Caucasians – look no further than Boyhood‘s depiction of an Hispanic-free Texas (except the one who needs saving by a white woman) – for what’s important to the gatekeepers of our movie memories. House Party mattered once. It should still.

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