|I can't believe that John Singleton pulled it off! He actually made two
movies in one. One movie, the third in his `hood' trilogy and
the other, a "conscious," counter-racist work, which will appeal to the
"conscious" moviegoer, i.e. a movie goer who is "conscious" of the system of
The movie's introductory scene is a most unique and disturbing one. It
depicts a 20-something year-old black male curled up in a fetal position in
what looks like a living womb. From then on, the movie is a graphic
portrayal of one of the central themes in Dr. Frances Cress Welsing's
best-selling book "The Isis Papers." This theme though controversial is
accurate: Under the system of racism/white supremacy, many black males are
forced to function like babies. Every inch of her hypothesis is displayed as
accurate, as the male (and female) characters of this movie, suffer from
"dependency depravation," the trauma caused by the system of racism depriving
many black people of access to their biological fathers.
I could not believe it. Here is John Singleton making a movie where he
prefaces that the actions of the black male are shaped by the system of
racism (white supremacy). Combined with Spike' s last effort, "Bamboozled,"
maybe there is definitely something new to look forward to from "black"
filmmakers in the New Millennium. If you have had the pleasure to read
Welsing's "The Isis Papers," then you too would be amazed at how much true
social commentary this movie delivers on the effects of racism/white
supremacy on many black people today.
But as I sat there holding on to my seat, waiting for the on screen
"revolution" (although not televised, a major motion picture would do!), I
saw that it was not to be, or at least it was over after the intro. This
most poignant element was short and without it the film turned out to be just
as I suspected, "Baby Boyz in the Hood II."
"Baby Boy" is very good "hood" story about a wayward young brother trying to
get himself together and "grow up," replete with booming hip hop, intense sex
scenes and violence. One of the intense sex scenes which had some people in
the theater wondering how the lead actor and actress could not be actually
having sex, reminded me of an old Richard Pryor routine. Pryor's routine
goes: "When you living with a black woman, every two weeks or so, you have to
f--- or fight, one of the two. Now if you can, it's always nice to f---
after you fight. Now that's when you' really in love."
The performance in "Baby Boy" is great. This is particularly true of the
female lead, Angell Conwell, (Kim), who stars with model, singer and VeeJay
turned lead actor Tyrese, (Jody). Word is she's local talent from Howard
University. Ving Rhames does a superb job as Jody's Mama's new Old G
boyfriend Melvin. Cuba Gooding's brother, Omar, holds down an interesting
character (Sweet Pea ) who you actually can have an affinity for even after
he "buss a cap in a nigga" on Saturday night and get baptized on Sunday.
After the screening, Dr. Welsing said that she was consulted several times
during the review process for the script to the movie. In interviews
Singleton has said that he had read "The Isis Papers" and had wanted to put
aspects of the book in a movie. She said that she had insisted that the intro
not say that her theory states that the black male "is a baby" which is
incorrect, but that he is often forced to "function" or "act like" a baby,
due to the system of racism/white supremacy.
She said that she was not sure how or why a decision was made to only use the
word "racism" and delete its synonym "white supremacy" in the movie's
introductory narrative. Dr. Welsing said that both terms must be linked as
white supremacy is the only "functional" form of racism. When asked what she
thought was the most significant theme of the movie? Dr. Welsing said, "Well
let's look at it this way, we now have a major Hollywood film, which
literally starts out with the hypothesis, and subscribes to theory that most
of the unproductive behavior of black males can be attributed to the system
of mistreatment, and that is the system of racism/white supremacy. In fact I
predict that the system of white supremacy may cause the introduction to be
removed from future versions of the film altogether."
One reason Singleton may have been able get away with such a controversial
and counter racist message is because it is limited to the opening scene.
Odds are most black people will miss or talk through it. After that, it's a
long entertaining movie. The bite at the beginning is lost, and by the time
we reach the end we are caught up in a romantic ghetto fabulous ending with
an unwed mother an her baby fatha, looking forward to the birth of a "baby
I left the film wondering, Are most black people going to just see a good
Well at least YOU can't now.
I think that any and all serious black people should see John Singleton's
movie "Baby Boy"....but only from the absolute beginning. "Baby Boy" opens on
Wednesday, June 27.
Click here for more information about this, the third film in John Singleton's Trilogy
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