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The Strife Of Black Communities In John Singleton’s Film Boyz N The Hood

1208 words - 5 pages

John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood is a portrayal of a struggling black community in South Central, California. The film most closely follows the lives of Tre, Doughboy and his brother Ricky, all of which are young black men who are presumed to be in their senior year of high school. While the 1990’s may have been a time of economic prosperity for the masses, the underbelly of the country struggled. The film aims to carve out a place for the strife of black communities in the cinematic canon by shedding light on the urban landscape that traps its inhabitants. This exploration of the myth of upward mobility is intertwined with a multitude of issues that affected black America at the time. Through plot and symbolism, Singleton poignantly touches on all these subjects. However, I offer the criticism that he should have simply picked one or two of these issues instead of trying to cram them all into one film.
Singleton begins the film by showing Tre, the protagonist, as a child. He is sent to live with his father, Furious, in “the hood” after acting out in school. There, he meets up with a group of friends and one day they journey to see a dead body. Singleton does this to show the children’s exposure to death at such a young age. It is not typical for a young child to see such things, so this symbolic gesture is effective at showing the viewer what kind of culture the children are being brought up in. Immediately after their encounter with the dead body the children are taunted by a group of gang members over a football. By setting this up immediately after the children’s encounter with death, Singleton has coupled gang violence and murder. This is an important to the cultural moment that Singleton is trying to encapsulate because of its relevance to the crime waves of the late 80’s and early 90’s in black communities.
Singleton then moves forward in time to show the group of males entering into young manhood. Shortly after young-adult-Tre is introduced to us, he sees a young child walking alone in the middle of the street. He picks up the child and brings it back to his mother, who is obviously strung out on some kind of drug, which we are to presume to be crack cocaine. After crack cocaine’s invention in the middle of the 80’s it swept through urban neighborhoods like the plague. It’s incredibly addictive qualities coupled with its relative affordability made it an epidemic. Although this scene in the movie is brief, I find it striking because it again shows the youth of the culture being brought up in an environment unfit for functional members of society. I believe that one major aim of the filmmaker is to show that the youth, and eventual adults, of this culture never really stood a chance. This point is further driven home by the absence of strong male role models throughout the film. Out of all the main characters, Tre is the only one who has a father that is in the picture. The quality time that Tre spends with his father...

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