I was looking at Booker Rising a Blog for our right of center African American friends as it gives me such fodder for my own posts. Stanley Crouch has a story titled “What a Crime: Denzel and friends pretty up a Drug Thug.” Stanley feels that this real life gangster Frank Lucas was given qualities that he just didn’t have and thus making him more seductive to the black youth who will undoubtedly rush right out and watch this black American Gangster. He feels that Denzel’s portrayal of Frank Lucas shows him as a “soft-spoken and sophisticated man who closely studies the written word and only explodes into violence every now and then.” Yet he was in actuality an illiterate thug who was super violent even putting a hit out on his own brother only to squash it since his mother was already grieving the death of another son.
Movies such as Casino, The Godfather trilogy, Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America, Traffic, Prizi’s Honor, The Transporter, Pulp Fiction, Scarface, Fight Club, Reservoir Dogs, Carlito’s Way and for television the Soprano’s are all a bunch of extremely violent films that glorified drug use, drug sales, prison life and of course murder on an astronomical scale. I don’t think that this one will be any different. There have been super violent black gangster movies as well such as Sugar Hill, Menace 2 Society, Colors, Boyz In The Hood, Juice, New Jack City and Super fly. Yet they did not spark a real increase in the inner city violence which has been going strong for a while.
According to Stanley, “That such icy qualities are not in the movie makes it a highly crafted piece of poisonous eye candy.” He obviously feels that our black youth are so vulnerable and so pathetic that they lack the sophistication of white kids to see a movie and not run home to the “ghetto” and start shooting it out gangster style. White kids as well as black watch these movies to almost excess and yet no one attributes any abhorrent behaviors white kids do to this. What is the reason for this; black kids are unable to distinguish reality from fiction or are they just more prone to mimicking gangster type violence.
Stanley also comments that Washington should be more responsible in the roles he chooses due to the influence on our youth. The movie the Basketball Diaries was a dead ringer for the Columbine school shootings yet where was Mr. Crouch, to point out that Leonardo DiCaprio should have been more responsible in the movie roles he decides to play since he is very influential in the lives of a lot of young teens. Doing a little research for this film I looked up whether or not inner city violence go up after any of these films and the answer was a resounding NO. Not any instances of any increase or decrease in any violence after super violent films were released. That should put Stanley’s mind at ease to find out that our kids really aren’t that stupid after all and no that reality and fantasy are separate.
With his conservative views he should understand that the movie isn’t a direct correlation of the real life events because that isn’t what makes money. This is all about the bottom line with movies. These people that are funding these films are out to make money not tell the real story of some supposed illiterate black gangster. This is capitalism at its best and since most conservatives have a firm base in money he shouldn’t be asking such idiotic questions as to why they didn’t portray him straight from history. Hell even our presidents are given larger than life stories to make them historically greater than they were. Did Washington admit to cutting down the cherry tree because he couldn’t tell a lie? Or would it be better to portray him as the hateful slave owner who subjugated untold amounts of blacks? No, money talks and that is the bottom line on this movie, making more money and that is inherently American. Maybe Stanley should stick to critiquing jazz instead of movies.