Black People : Gangsta’s Rules: “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ”

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by oldsoul, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. OldSoul

    OldSoul Permanent Black Man PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Gangsta’s Rules: “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ”


    The title of the new film, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ” is also, of course, a powerful refrain in American society—and not just for the hip-hop generation, lest anyone get twisted about who the real gangsters are.

    Enron execs anyone? Oil execs? Blackwater mercenaries?

    Of course, not all gangsters must be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for wealth. Rather, real gangsters leave the messy business of dying to others—in sweatshops, in mines deep in the earth, in Bhopal, or in the hard choice between food, medicine, medical care or heating a home.

    It’s good to keep referring back to this refrain when discussing the surprisingly moving qualities of this film, which stars rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. With the exception of Charles Stone III’s “Paid in Full” and Barry Michael Cooper’s seminal “New Jack City,” no other hip-hip gangster flick has, so far, delivered the combination of grit, action and emotional truth to make the Black drug world come alive and breathe.

    Why would such a seedy, small slice of Black life need to come alive? Well, the hip-hop world has always yearned for its own versions of Don Corleone or “Scarface” and, in their absence, it has willingly adopted the originals. Having watched the eyes of grown men grow wide at the sight of a poster for the film “Scarface,” with the lead character, played by Al Pacino, gripping a machine gun in a cocaine-induced frenzy, I realize that much of this thug love has to do with identifying with a man willing to fight to the bitter and seemingly hopeless end. The soldier instinct is activated to support a man’s fight for self-preservation. Getting rich during the course of that fight is important but getting rich while mocking death seems intoxicating.

    Film has long seduced Americans into gangster love. Just as “Hustle and Flow” drew our empathy for a pimp and prostitution, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ” makes fully plausible the rationale for an orphaned young boy to drop out of school and start selling drugs—so that he can buy high-priced sneakers, a leather jacket and a gun.

    All of our good, common sense is subverted, the refrain takes over, and we root for the young thug as the protagonist in our very own story of rags-to-some-sort-of-riches. We want the underdog to beat the odds and beat the system and its bosses—both the legal and illegal systems and the bosses of both.

    This story is based loosely on the life of Jackson, who does a fairly good job of playing himself. And so, subliminally, we are also rooting for someone who is already a known commercial success, as well as a controversial artist whose sexually explicit lyrics are marketed to young audiences. In hip-hop, the drive to get rich or die tryin’ is a perverted twist of the famous Malcolm X refrain: “by any means necessary.” Of course, Malcolm X was talking about attaining true freedom and equality—about crushing an unjust system, not feeding it. He was not talking about the freedom to “get rich,” buy new sneakers, a gold watch and a Mercedes.

    By Esther Iverem SeeingBlack.com Editor and Film Critic

    For the rest: http://www.seeingblack.com/board/viewtopic.php?t=28
     
  2. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    a lot hinges on one's definition of "wealth", doesn't it?
     
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