I Wanted to Write About Django, But I Ended Up Writing About a Pimp
So, once upon a time I used to write for this fantastic site. Then I went away, did a Masters degree and had a kid – but I missed writing. I recently started my own blog, which you can find here, about films – yes, it’s that general. I’m going to share some of my content with TMV from time to time, so below is a piece I did about Django Unchained. Ok, I lied, it’s about the film “Hustle and Flow.”
I wanted write about Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and how I think it’s the most important black film of my generation.
But, I have this thing about not forming an opinion about a movie after only one sitting, so, instead I’m going to write about a film which I had Django like feelings for.
Hustle and Flow.
Did you know that Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar for their song “It’s hard out here for a pimp”? Not only did they win an Oscar, they performed the track at the ceremony — in front of people — probably in front of Morgan Freeman. I’m just going to leave that thought, and the below video, out there.
I’m one of those idiots who consider themselves a hip-hop head. To be honest with you, I don’t even know what that means, all I know is that I am a big fan of rap music and consume a lot of what hip hop culture has to offer.
To put it another way, I bought a pair of Beats by Dre headphones for 3 reasons: It had Dr Dre’s name on them and I am a big fan girl of his; It’s the closest I am ever going to get to Detox; The headphones actually sound alright. The reasons are actually in that order – sound quality last. £300. Feel free to insult me, I deserve it.
At 19, I was just starting university and I remember bemoaning the lack of great modern hip-hop films (for me, “BoyZ in the Hood” was the last one). Then Hustle and Flow came along. I absolutely loved it.
Craig Brewer’s Hustle and Flow is about a low down dirty pimp’s struggle to becoming a (local) rap star.
If you asked a 19 year old Teddybear why he loved Hustle and Flow, he’d tell you pretty much the same as what a 26 year old Teddybear would. The film has a brilliant cast. Terrance Howard’s pimp, DJay, is a wonderfully repulsive, yet venerable character; Taraji Henson is absolutely sensational as the pregnant prostitute, Shug; Anthony Anderson’s Kay embodies a black man’s frustration better than Djay himself. Bluntly put, in 2005, Hustle and Flow was the hip-hop movie I was looking for and with a majority black cast that deserved every plaudit it got and more (Note: the white actors in this film are pretty damn great as well).
The story is well executed. Craig Brewer doesn’t put a foot wrong in the movie. You can also tell that the director has a damn good understanding of hip-hop cooked up in the American south.
Make no mistake, this is a very good film.
The issue I have with it now is entirely my own. It’s aged badly on me. Now when I watch, instead of nodding to the beats or rooting for DJay as he stomps the living day lights out of Ludacris, I sit there awkward and cringing. I know this is unfair on the movie, and I am about to be even more unfair.
Hustle and Flow reminds me of a time when I wanted to be a rapper. I wanted the same things that DJay wanted. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m embarrassed that I related so closely to a horribly abusive character like DJay.
As stupid as this sounds, Hustle and Flow reminds me of the pre-Obama era; a time when most young black men would laugh at you and quote 2-Pac if you told them they could be or there would be a black president. This film reminds me of a time when success was being a rapper or an athlete and when it was cool to call women “bitches” or “hoes” – damn it, I did it myself during my ill-fated career as a hardcore rapper (don’t kid yourself, I can still spit). This film paints a clear, negative but fair picture of the young black man in 2005 – not just the disfranchised young black man.
I know that is nit picking and I should just shut the F up and enjoy the movie – but – this movie is bloody important for black cinema. Successful black movies are rare. Three 6 Mafia won an Oscar for crying out loud.
Hustle and Flow is why I’m trying to tamper my opinion over Django Unchained, a film that I am wild about. Django is clearly an important film, it is also clearly a hip-hop film and for me the film tries to paint a positive picture of the black man.
I just don’t know if this film will age on me like Hustle and Flow.