Monday, 2 February 2015

Finding Truth in Fiction: Boyz N the Hood

by Bunmi Hazzan

Before seeing Boyz 'N The Hood, I was under the impression it was a gangster movie, or more specifically a ‘gangsta’ movie. As a 14/15 year-old obsessed with violent films; that pretty much sold it for me. After watching Boyz N the Hood, I was still under the impression it was a gangster movie. Then something happened some years later, a moment of clarity, if you will.

When I say ‘obsessed’ with violent films, I mean, I watched RoboCop(1987) for the first time at around 9 years old. It was easily the most violent film I had seen at the time, so much so, that the first time, I could barely keep my eyes open. But the second time, and subsequent (at least) one-hundred more times I watched it, I embraced it, and the violence, fully.

This obsession led me to watch such works as Scarface (1983), Goodfellas, and the aforementioned Boyz N the Hood. But it was while watching Hard Boiled that I began to see films in a different light. Seeing how beautifully choreographed the violence was, let me know there are other things to look for in a movie. Realising there’s much more to films than what’s on the surface, and coupling that with my obsessive nature, I find myself watching films differently, and re-watching films I’ve seen before, to know what I’ve missed.

All films transcend story; Boyz is one of the best examples of this super power. It isn’t a gangsta movie -- it’s a demonstration of how under-privileged neighbourhoods are damaged by external greed. It shows the systematic mental destruction of people in those areas. It shows that it is hard (not impossible, just hard) to make it out, not only from an academic standpoint, but from the pressure of peers:  even those who do everything right, can still fall victim to circumstances.

Boyz resonates with me more than the other films, because it is very close to the reality of where I grew up. People who I went to school with going to prison for murder, some being murdered themselves. Boyz opened me to the realisation that it isn’t just a problem with the people, but a problem with what is being introduced to the people. “How you think the crack rock gets into the country?” said Furious Styles. Gentrification is addressed in Boyz, as well, something that many cities are going through or have been through. To its credit, the movie doesn’t just point out what all the problems are. It also offers potential solutions, namely becoming more socially aware, educating oneself, and supporting community and local businesses.

I once told someone Boyz N the Hood was a cry for help. I don’t think it is anymore; it’s more of a wake-up call for people in these communities to help themselves, because either others don’t know, don’t show, or just don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.

BH the Uncivilised, some call me Bunmi Hazzan, but a time traveller has many names. I've existed for over 10,000 years and lived over 9000 lives. Travelling through time, space and multiple dimensions and writing about my experiences and observations. Or, in other words, I analyse art, and create art. The driving license I hold in this realm claims I have residence in London, England. The truth is I spend most of my time in upper regions of my cerebral cortex. I am, that poet.

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