The 1991 movie Boyz N the Hood (directed by John Singleton and starring Cuba Gooding Jr. and Laurence Fishburne) presents an inside look at the terrors that take place in the virtually segregated black neighborhoods of the United States. Within the movie, one finds several issues being addressed, and the writer-director uses certain techniques that help to solidify certain socio-cultural ideas that are prevalent within the country. Several of the scenes deal with such ideas as discrimination, interaction of minorities with representatives of the majority and stereotyping.
In making this movie the director achieves, therefore, a social commentary on the state of affairs within the average African-American community. A major stereotype found within this movie is the idea of the African-American youth being delinquent and having nothing good to contribute to society. Several scenes within the movie demonstrate the fear that young Black persons have toward persons with legal authority. This fear is shown to stem from the fact that many of these persons are often treated with distrust by these authority figures mainly as a result of their skin color.
The treatment received by Tre Styles and his father when they call the authorities to get help with a burglary shows how these figures tend to consider black persons as being the cause of trouble rather than needing help from it. Yet in some ways the film itself helps to perpetuate the idea of African-Americans as trouble makers. The reason for this is that within the film a large proportion of the boys shown are in fact involved in crime.
This gives the impression that these boys represent a true cross-section of the African-American community, and it says that most of the youth within the community are inclined toward criminal activity. Yet this fact points toward an important issue that is a problem within the black community. Within the film the problem is given the name “gentrification,” and this is defined by the vicious cycle of hopelessness that faces many of the black communities of the United States. The majority-minority interaction within these communities is minimal (confined to what might be considered persecution by whites).
The problems within the black community are therefore confined there. As a result, there appears to be no incentive for the government to act in the behalf of black persons because non-blacks are hardly affected by these problems. One of the characters, Doughboy, describes the segregated and isolated aspect of the African-American community in the remark he makes following several retributive and senseless deaths. He says, “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.
” This lack of interaction between whites and blacks (majority-minority interaction) is indeed strong within the film since within that community, which is in effect segregated, very few persons of Caucasian origin are seen. This allows the black persons to actually appear to be the majority though this is not the case—and the irony of this highlights the racial issues that do still exist within the country. The few instances in which the movie shows overt majority-minority interaction, one finds the white persons portrayed as being in authority, while the black persons hold subordinate positions.
Examples of these are interactions with police officers and teachers. Even the instance in which a black man holds the position of police officer, he seems to have distanced himself from his blackness in assuming that authoritative role. Instances of discrimination within the film can be tied to the gentrification mentioned in an earlier paragraph. The situation in which Ricky tries to earn good grades on his SAT’s (in order to qualify for a football scholarship) reveals that many consider the test to be discriminatory and especially biased against the members of the black community.
While the film does not overtly demonstrate how this bias comes about, one is able to infer that the poverty (which is evident within the community and that drives much of its activity) extends to the school system. Schools might be officially integrated; however, where school districts are made up of predominantly black and poor persons, segregation and low-funding turn out to be the result. Poverty also deprives black children of an important aspect of their education, which should be supplemented by educated parents at home. Black children, however, rarely have educated parents—as is demonstrated by the film.
Therefore, discrimination is shown to exist even in the lack of opportunities that are open to the black youth. This discrimination can also be seen in the disenfranchisement of the blacks with regard to their property. This is also examined through the lens of gentrification, as the cycle of poverty, drug use, and murder is shown to devalue the property of black persons. This devaluation eats at the wealth of black persons while it allows banks and other financial institutions to buy property at low costs from blacks and then sell it at a profit to real estate developers.
Eventually the African Americans are crowded out of their communities and forced to live sub-standard lifestyles. These disenfranchised black persons are not able to afford a home in a decent or prosperous community. Rather, they are destined to end up worse off than they were as a result of the way the odds are stacked against them. The themes represented within this movie demonstrate the extent to which African-American citizens continue to be marginalized within American society.
Although strides have been made since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, the movie Boyz N the Hood shows that even now black persons face many struggles that are rooted in the racism that continues to exist. The concentration of African-Americans as a minority group within certain communities demonstrates the extent to which segregation does still exist within the culture of American society. These issues ultimately have a bearing on how African-American minorities are stereotyped and the overall way they are treated in minority-majority relations. Reference Singleton, J. (1991).
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