31 August 2011

Of Hollywood and Violence

I watched a film and I liked it. Not exactly a groundbreaking statement with the various ways one has to enjoy movies these days, but nonetheless there it is. And while I was initially skeptical of this film, it turned out to be much better than I had expected. Call it morbid curiosity, call it work-related research, or just call it watching a movie, the film I chose was a small, relatively unknown and unmarketed film from 2001 called Gang Tapes. While it was not widely known or even that well received, I liked it (like kissing a girl but without the cherry chapstick or big fake tits).

The whole premise is fairly straightforward, a young boy in search of his manhood, and himself, aligns with a street gang in South Central LA and, through the ever-present eye of his home video camera, documents the life he chooses to lead and the relationships he forms with those of his set. Along the way, our young protagonist becomes mired in some next level shit and seeks to avenge (7X) his fallen homies only to succumb to the inevitability of the path he hath trod. At least that's my synopsis of the plot.

The official description, as noted on Netflix, is a little less than truthful. The claim is that the tape is 100% legitimately genuinely real and that the boy captures all the stuff on camera and then it somehow ends up in the hands of the LAPD and leads investigators to bring down all the people involved in the crimes that were documented. While I understand that Hollywood is in the business of making up shit that sells, how the fuck is that not A) false advertising since I assume they marketed this the same way 10 years ago B) why are there no regulations on the type of bullshit you can claim is true? To each his own I suppose, and really that is neither here nor there since the film only tested in major markets and was so ill-received that it was sent straight to DVD.

As far as the movie goes, it was decently entertaining. Storytelling was fluid and made a lot of sense, well as much sense as being a gangbanger can make I guess. I figured I would have a problem with the use of Handicams to make the movie, but it was well done and actually served to keep the illusion that it was all a home video (unlike that insufferable Blair Witch Project that was so damn jumpy and epileptic that I think I actually had a seizure without knowing it since the screen was bouncing just as much as I was).

That being said, I do have some contentious points to make about the stroy in a couple of places. Whilst I myself have no knowledge of actual gangbangery, I find it hard to believe that a thirteen year old boy would be taken to a bedroom by a 30 year old prostitute to have his virginity stripped off him like a peeling top coat of bad paint. For starters, even though sluts have zero morals or brains I'm fairly certain that even they would draw the line at pedophilia. I could be wrong though, maybe I will ask my ex about that.

Secondly, there a scene near the end of the film that, while I don't want to ruin much of the movie just in case any of you want to rush out and find a copy after reading my raving review, just strikes me as completely implausible. Again, I've no gangbangery in my past but I can surmise from sheer common sense that when one who chooses to enact a violent retaliation goes to do so it is not on a bicycle. For starters, that is the most inefficient way to get anywhere. Riding a bike is good exercise but not exactly a great way to traverse many miles without feeling like you are made of jello by the end.

Then there is the logistics of carrying a sidearm. Gangbang enthusiasts often carry their weapons in one of two places, the front waistband or the rear waistband. Both of these places are stupid for a couple reasons. First is the fact that if, okay WHEN, when you had to draw down on a rival or a grandmother or a cop, there is absolutely no secrecy to your intent. So if you were trying to draw on the sly and get the drop on someone, you would be fucked since they would see your overly ridiculous move to the crotch or the ass crack. Secondly, if you were a gangbanger riding a bicycle and strapped you would either impale your penis repeatedly from the pedaling motion or the gun would fall the fuck out your pants so many times that it would be a week before you got where you were going.

These two facts alone are enough to bother me within the closing minutes of the film but are not, by far, the most insane. That is reserved for the following: South Central is crawling with gangs and is thus used to the sound of gunshots, true. However, if you roll up on some nigga's hood and start tango blastin' like some dumb ass Dirty Harry, I can guarantee (through learned inference of gang culture) that the chances of no one from that hood or set coming outside with a piece in his hand and firing wildly in the direction of the first shot are slim to none. Retaliation and "protection" are a big part of the criminal world, so the fact that the protagonist camera child just walks in, guns down a guy, and then rides his one speed back out and safely to his house is fucking stupid.

But overall, the movie was a decent exploitation of former gang members (aka most of the cast) and the depiction of life in a gang even if it was written and directed by some white Jewish guy who probably shat himself every day they were filming in Watts.

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