Monday, April 6, 2009

GRH Book Club: Boyz N The Hood.


Ok, ok, ok. I know it’s not a “Sports Movie.” Hear me out.

Sports plays a large factor in the movie, and plays a pivotal role in the development of one of the central characters. Plus, it kind of connects to a lot of current things, so, shut up and listen.

Boyz N The Hood is the coming to age story of Tre Styles, Ricky Baker, and Doughboy Baker, following them from childhood up to the cusp of adulthood, in the poverty-ridden environment of south-central Los Angeles. The three take essentially the three different paths available to those of this plight.

Tre, raised until the age of eleven by his mother (who earns a master’s degree and becomes a denizen of a higher social status), is taken in by his father, Furious. His life is maintained by a strict code of ethics set forth from his father, with words of wisdom like, “any fool can make a baby, but it takes a man to be a father.” Tre has a job, excels in school, and is ambitious and driven enough to make college a reality.

Doughboy, played aptly by Ice Cube (the dude that makes family movies?!), is the opposite. In and out of prison, his life is consumed by drugs, alcohol, and the perpetual and cyclical violence which he himself perpetuates, and succumbs to, postscript.

Tre’s best friend and Doughboy’s half-brother is Ricky Baker. This is where the movie intersects with our interests. Ricky has been sports-obsessed since a young age and is now an All-American Running Back for Crenshaw High School, is highly touted and recruited to play the position at USC. Ricky is not without his setbacks. Like of many of the same young men in his situation, he is already a father, and does not excel in school. When the recruiter comes to talk to Ricky, he is obviously put off by the young son, and sends Ricky into a spiral of self-doubt when he mentions that Ricky must score at least a seven hundred on the SAT to be eligible to play at Southern Cal.

Tre is the exception whose eyes we see the movie through. He has two supportive parents and seemingly only has the weakness of female attention. Doughboy and Ricky, on the other hand have the same mother, but we know nothing else of their fathers. Crime is the only avenue that Doughboy seems destined for, and football is the only outlet – and way out – for Ricky. This seems to be a prevailing notion, for when the USC recruiter comes to visit Ricky, one of Doughboy’s associates asks for a scholarship, saying, “I want to go to college, too.”

I won’t spoil the end for those of you that would like to know where it goes, but needless to say, it’s not a feel-good movie.

What got me on this line of thinking is a game that tips off here in a little less than an hour. How many times in the last weekend have you read something about how great it would be for the state of Michigan if Michigan State were to win tonight? Seriously, how many? It’s all anybody can talk about, really. I’m not trying to take anything away from the accomplishments of the Spartans, they’ve done very well, and been pretty fun to watch. OMFG! FUNK!

What I don’t want is for sports to be the only thing that these people have to cheer about. I don’t want people in Detroit, Flint, or any other impoverished Michigan community thinking that sports is the only thing that can heal a community that has been ailing for decades.

Maybe I’m reading to much into it, maybe I’m just being a jerk, but it seems to me like it’s just a scrap of happiness being thrown their way, while the real pervasive problems of their society go largely ignored.

Put it another way. In the words of Doughboy, “Just goes on and on, you know? Either they don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.”

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points about Boyz N the Hood.

    As for Michigan State, I don't think anyone thinks MSU will change anything. Shit I think sometimes we watch sports because we just want a break from our mundane lives. The same goes for UNC. Sometimes winning the big game is like a great night on the town, for that small amount of time nothing matters, until you wake up the next day with a raging hangover and realize everything is shit again.

    That being said, MSU is down 23 right now.