October 18, 2007, - 8:44 am
By Debbie Schlussel
I’m prohibited from reviewing “American Gangster,” until the day it debuts, a week from tomorrow. Still, while it’s based on the true story of Harlem drug kingpin/gangster Frank Lucas, I ask two questions:
1) Does Black America really need another movie that glorifies the gangster biz and the drug trade–a movie that shows the nice homes, the beautiful women, and other luxuries you get from pushing and pimping, including the power to kill a man on the street ‘cuz you da man–but shows none of the dark side?
Yes, Italians have their mob movies, and so do other ethnic groups. But none of these communities are in the dire straits in which Black America finds itself. And none of them have their hip-hoppers–their biggest, most idolized celebs–glamorizing drugs and the life of luxury: bling, cars, “hos and bitches” et al. Even Frank Sinatra–whose career was first established by the Mafia–didn’t glamorize the violence and life of crime he surely knew his enablers led. Today, in urban America, it’s a different story.
Some of the biggest Black celebrities star in this movie and not just Denzel Washington, who is aiding and abetting in spreading this corrupt message. USA Today has a whole article noting the prominent hip-hop figures in this film–rappers Common, T.I., and the Wu Tang Clan’s RZA. They’re glamorizing this life by being in this movie.
2) Were we in Vietnam to help thugs and gangsters transport heroin to America’s steets? Was that really a big part of our presence in Vietnam, then?
No and no. I think stopping the VietCong had something to do with it. But you’d hardly know that if you got your version of history from this movie. Sadly, that’s where a significant part of brain-defective America learns history, today.
Stay tuned for my complete review of “American Gangster,” November 2nd.
Bonus Question: Remember all the violence the Sean “Spicoli” Penn movie, “Colors,” inspired at showings of that movie? How much violence do you think “American Gangster” will inspire?
We may not see it in the theaters. But it will markedly add to the collective psyche of a community that hardly needs it, especially now.
This movie is scary, because it’s so well done and its message is so darn frightening.
Its working title was “The Return of Superfly.” Doesn’t that tell you something?
Tags: America, American Gangster, Colors, Debbie Schlussel, Denzel Washington, Frank Lucas, Frank Sinatra, Spicoli, USA Today, Vietnam