The Strife of Black Communities in John Singleton’s film Boyz n the Hood

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John Singleton’s 1991 film Boyz n the Hood is a portrayal of a struggling black community in South Central, California. The film most closely follows the lives of Tre, Doughboy and his brother Ricky, all of which are young black men who are presumed to be in their senior year of high school. While the 1990’s may have been a time of economic prosperity for the masses, the underbelly of the country struggled. The film aims to carve out a place for the strife of black communities in the cinematic canon by shedding light on the urban landscape that traps its inhabitants. This exploration of the myth of upward mobility is intertwined with a multitude of issues that affected black America at the time. Through plot and symbolism, Singleton poignantly touches on all these subjects. However, I offer the criticism that he should have simply picked one or two of these issues instead of trying to cram them all into one film. Singleton begins the film by showing Tre, the protagonist, as a child. He is sent to live with his father, Furious, in “the hood” after acting out in school. There, he meets up with a group of friends and one day they journey to see a dead body. Singleton does this to show the children’s exposure to death at such a young age. It is not typical for a young child to see such things, so this symbolic gesture is effective at showing the viewer what kind of culture the children are being brought up in. Immediately after their encounter with the dead body the children are taunted by a group of gang members over a football. By setting this up immediately after the children’s encounter with death, Singleton has coupled gang violence and murder. This is an important to the cultural moment that Singleton is trying to encapsulate b... ... middle of paper ... ...unity at this time to be a bit heavy handed. While I do think that his film was powerful, I find it overused the stereotypical tropes that one associates with “the hood,” leaving me feeling like the characters were flat and predictable. All of the issues presented in the film are pertinent to the socio-economic landscape of the time, but there were just so many of them one after another it was difficult to take them seriously. The density of the issues caused the film to come off as a bit melodramatic. While Singleton may have caricaturized the characters, I do think that his aim was incite some sort of social change through immortalizing these tropes. By making them all known to the masses we are able to have am artistic frame of reference against which to judge the black community and get a better understanding of what can be done to fight its negative attributes.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how john singleton's 1991 film boyz n the hood portrays a struggling black community in south central, california.
  • Analyzes how singleton shows tre, the protagonist, as a child, who is sent to live with his father, furious, in "the hood" after acting out in school.
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