Saturday, January 20, 2007

Alpha Dog

My thoughts on racism were highlighted by reading a review of Justin Timberlake's first movie outing, the true-crime drama Alpha Dog.

Based on the true-life murder committed by bored suburban drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood, it tells the story of rich kids with absent parents, who play-act the drug dealer lifestyle they hear about through rap songs on MTV.

It's a shocking story and raises some real issues about modern parenting and the influence of violent pop culture on bored, impressionable kids. It's ironic that Disney brat Justin Timberlake, who emulates the roughest rap acts with his pop career, is in this movie. It's a perfect part for him.

What annoyed me was a comment the normally sensible Movie Mom included on her review:

"It seems solipsistic, superficial, and short-sighted to put so much energy into the story of this murder when so little attention is paid to murders of non-white, non-suburban kids." Full review here.

I find this highly ironic.

The terrible, violent lifestyle of South Central Los Angeles... The clash of macho, violent gangster cultures... Through excellent directors like Spike Lee, we've had a slough of movies about gangster culture, gun crime and murder of disadvantaged inner city, ethnic kids.

Boyz in the Hood. Gang War: Bangin in Little Rock. Save the Last Dance. There are MANY movies of varying quality that record the terrible warzone that exists in inner city America.

So Movie Mom's remark was totally inaccurate. And considering Britain's currently reeling with remarks considered 'racist,' I had to question why Movie Mom would even say anything like that.

Does the colour of a person's skin eliminate the significance of their murder? Many people would say it does. Traditionally, black people's murders receive less police attention than those of white people. Yet perversely, the opposite is true in the media.

Take for example, the recent rape allegations at Duke University, in which four white LaCrosse players were accused of raping an African American girl. There was understandable uproar and disgust and the story was ENORMOUS in the media.

Yet a white girl, gang raped the previous year by a gang of four black men, hardly made the bylines.

I think there is enormous irony here. There is actually reverse racism going on. I am absolutely in support of total equality, in all aspects of life. I share Martin Luthor King's dream in which skin colour has as little relevence to the way a person is treated as the colour of their eyes. However, instead of helping us reach that goal, the media is currently being counter productive.

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