I started my one-woman tirade against Hustle & Flow when [a Black women's magazine] put Terrance Howard, a man who was playing the role of a pimp that tricked out two black women, on the cover. Perhaps it was because his “bottom bitch” in the movie was black (at least his heart was with the sistah?) they felt this cover would resonate with the mostly female, mostly black readership. Perhaps it was because he’s an attractive man—sans conk, of course. Perhaps it was because the movie was just so good that it transcended pimping, somehow reached into the soul of a man, who just happened to be a pimp, so much that his occupation didn’t matter and that’s why he received the cover.
Weeks after the movie debuted, I decided it was finally time to see for myself what all the hype was about. I didn’t get “it.” The movie sucked. It was horrible. I fell asleep in the theatre it was so bad. I laughed when people were trying to be dramatic the same way I do when I watch Showgirls. I thought that maybe it was the subject matter that bothered me so. I don’t like to hear/ watch women degraded in rhyme, on screen, anywhere, but somehow I do manage to be a die-hard fan of The Mack, Superfly, Dolemite, American Pimp, and various other movies about pimping. It wasn’t that H&F was more degrading than any of those (though I could have done without Taraji P. Henson’s greased up face the whole movie), it was just a bad movie about a pimp. There weren’t even any memorable lines, any memorable scenes for viewers to quote or act out the next time they’re giddy and drunk. Folks have been quoting Goldie and Dolemite for 30 years now. Your average black man can recite The Mack start to finish at will. No one’s quoting Hustle & Flow today, much less tomorrow. It was forgettable and I wanted my money back before the credits rolled. Walking out the theatre, I was really puzzled as to how this movie even got made.
When I read that Howard had been nominated for Best Actor for H&F and “It’s Hard Out Here for A Pimp” had been nominated for Best Song, I was appalled, but like most, I thought there wasn’t a chance in hell that either would win. I should add that I cringed when I heard Three 6 Mafia would be performing the song…live (oh no!) … at the Oscars (WTF?).
If that performance wasn’t a modern day minstrel show, i don’t know what else could be. White folks in black face could not have done better. All the group needed to compliment the hoes parading around the stage, and Henson belting off key, (anyone else notice how she substituted “bitch” for “wench,” or was it “witch?” Both?) was a porch monkey. Let me break it down- a man named Crunchy Black rhymed about pimping while women dressed as prostitutes provided the scenery. Anyone who can’t get see the minstrel show connotations in all this needs a refersher course on what is dancing and what is shuffling. ASAP, watch Bamboozled and tell me life is not imitating art.
Black people looked like coons on TV for all the world to see. Not the first time it happened, certainly won’t be the last. For those of you who don’t have a problem seeing Black folks portrayed like that on TV, well you’re in luck. There will be a plethora of degenerate movies with catchy, pre-school like theme songs coming to a theatre near you for a long time to coming. Black film suffered a horrendous blow that night. You think a black movie with any kind of integrity is getting green-lighted in the next 18 months?
“It’s Hard Out Here for A Pimp” won. I just don’t understand. The song was a’ight, catchy even, but by no means nominee worthy, much less Oscar-win worthy.
Three 6 Mafia has the statue now. So be it. I ain’t celebrating it, but i’m sure they will dance a jig and then some to make up for that. (Last I heard, they were travelling around Hollywood with the statue in a brown paper bag and breaking it out to gain entry to clubs.) While they are shuff…dancing, I just hope they finally get a porch monkey to make the act complete.