Now that a vast section of minority, underclass youth is either too drugged, too badly beaten or too hopelssly devoted to the dominant religion (Wealth and Narcissism) to oppose anything that isn't interfering with their cash flow, no one is counting on them to bring the system down. Good. That means nobody's really looking at them. We're at the point in the movie where the villain turns away from the lifeless bodies, snickering in malevolent satisfaction. Time for all those merely playing dead to rise up and fight.
Except that many of these kids aren't playing dead. They are, in terms of positive social change, as dead as a Crispy Strip. The corporate deities have dangled cars and PSP's over their heads, given them the worthless jobs to pay for them (but little else), and now everybody's happy. A little weed, closet full of Sean John--what more do a nigga need? The trend toward drafting minority high schoolers into the NBA should tell us where this is going. Flatter and pamper the underclass, make its struggling youth feel as if all they need is within reach, and they will capitulate to anything.
Not that the "properly" educated young minorities are any better off. They just buy their trinkets from more upscale malls and cram them into more spacious apartments in safer neighborhoods. The effect is the same: Distract these kids from the horrors that finance and extend all this apparent prosperity. Keep them disinterested in all but the most superficial facts of what is happening around the world. Keep them staring at the mirror and counting their "paper." Which explains the surreal spectacle of hood niggas and other authentic types getting downright patriotic after 9/11. There are dudes with jail tats and corn-rows who would fight you in the street for saying something disrespectful about the U.S. "If you don't like it here, take your ass to Iran or Taliban-Land, or one of them places where they wear turbans and cut women's privates off."
(Malcolm X used to call such apolitical, agreeable blacks "handkerchief-head negroes." He was referencing the classic 19th century House Nigger/Uncle Tom; he didn't live to see the metaphorical rags become literal on the heads of every third ghetto child.)
The shock and awe of those towers coming down has forced such brothers to become reflective, but reflection ain't much when you have little history to reflect upon. In the skewed rearview mirror of so many American youth, there is nothing in the past to outdo the 9/11 tragedy for sheer scale and horror--certainly nothing precipitated by the U.S. A lot of black youth understand that there was this thing called slavery that was really, really fucked up, and something else called Jim Crow that was almost as fucked up, but the spaces between those dark ages is murky. All the unions that were smashed, all the suspected seditionists that were jailed, exiled, executed or cast into poverty, all the countrysides flattened in the name of anti-communism, anti-fascism, whatever, all the innocents slaughtered in the name of preserving or introducing democracy.... These kids know nothing about that stuff, and they don't care. Any foreigner that would bring violence to our shores is just jealous that they ain't got it as good as we got it.
Again, though, nobody is looking at these kids anymore. There are no freedom marchers or student organizers among these complacent Pimp My Ride watchers, so they don't pose a threat to business-as-usual. But if they ever come into contact with the fact of their complicity in the destruction corporate forces and their elite masters have wrought worldwide, they might be moved to protest, or at least reject the beads and trinkets that reward their passivity.
Oh. What does this hateful rant have to do with the new movie Hustle and Flow? Not much, really, other than the fact that I was moved to write it after seeing a trailer for that film.
Image from Los Olvidados (aka The Young and the Damned) 1950. (DVD screen capture from dvdbeaver.com)