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Ghetto Physics - the review

The pimp will beat you down, it's just a matter of how smooth the glove is. Or, as the movie itself says early on, "the world runs on Ghetto Physics."

GhettoPhysics explores how power is wielded in the world through the examination of the interplay between Pimps and Hos.  From street corners to Wall Street, on a subtle and globally consequential level, we witness today’s modern pimps selling their vision of business while the women do all of the work.

Through the use of documentary footage, animation, satire and dramatization, this film features notable thought leaders including Dr. Cornel West, Ice-T, KRS-One, Too Short, John Perkins, Cynthia McKinney, William H. Arntz (co-director), and Norman Lear.

From the streets to the classroom to the boardroom, Ghetto Physics details the worlds where the game is being played by the rules of the oldest profession known to man.  The power interactions in politics and economics are not typically referred to as a game, but this is exactly what is taking place, and using the language of the street is a simplified way of describing such power dynamics.

Ghetto Physics helps you become more aware of these dynamics and play them from a position of personal power.  Themes of empowerment and hope emerge creating awareness of “the game” and empowering individuals to choose the role they play in every situation they encounter.

So reads the press release. Interesting enough.

One of the settings used to convey all of this is a classroom, with writer/director/producer E. Raymond Brown as the instructor. This might work well if it were an actual classroom with actual students. It might even work passably if any of the actors present could act. But since neither of these is the case, the classroom setting doesn't ring at all true.

Switch to a sit-down interview with Brown and hope springs anew. Now we're going to get somewhere. He might even tell us why he chose to fill a class room with bad actors to make his point rather than using real students. But no. Neither the 'interview' nor the interviewer are any more real (or any better executed) than the classroom.

And it's not just the general set-up that disappoints. The details are also lacking. For instance, George W. Bush did not give the oil fields in Iraq to Halliburton. I get that this statement might not have been meant literally and was instead being used as an expression of broadbrush indignation with 'the pimps' running the show at the top of the US government. But even on this level it fails. Halliburton doesn't own any oil fields anywhere. That's not its business. Maybe teach meant ExxonMobil or Shell (or Macy's or Taco Bell).

Then there's the pimp the movie sometimes cuts to for his perspective. He's dressed entirely in blue and obviously a complete mama's boy, in short clearly another stand-in for the real thing.

And the Ghettotranslations (sic) of Hitler in full rally mode are even more ridiculous than the words 'Ghettotranslations of Hitler' would lead one to believe. [Go ahead. Take a break. Play with the words for a minute. Roll them around. Now slowly begin to imagine something  more ridiculous]. 

The most amazing part of this seemingly sincere exercise is that the producers got the likes of KRS-ONE, Too Short, and Norman Lear to participate. I can't even imagine what they were told the project was about, but their soundbites are pointless, poorly integrated. or both.

Too Short lets us in on the groundbreaking knowledge that everybody is either one or the other (pimp or ho) while Norman Lear tells us that the street makes things simple. Yes, those are crickets you hear chirping in amazement. KRS-ONE tells us that everybody gets an opportunity. We all start as hos, he explains, before letting us know that when you fight against the pimp game you fight against civilization itself.

SEXXON oil. A pointless fake awards show.

Those were not notes I forgot to flesh out. That's my attempt to replicate this movie in motion using the written word.

Ice-T is the next celebrity wheeled out and he actually makes sense, explaining that what the pimp masters is getting into the ho's head and making them not just do the work but want to do it. Cutting to clips of Charles Manson shows one extreme of this phenomenon. The relationship between credit card companies and consumers is presented using the same template and the sensible tone continues. By the time global resource exploitation is rolled out -- big companies reaping the profits while the raw-material producing countries  happily do the work -- real traction seems to be taking hold.

But no sooner does that feeling take hold than some ridiculous false setting once again takes all momentum away.

Ultimately, Ghetto Physics would function best as an educational aid of the sort the kid from the A/V department would set up in 8th grade science. Usually it was a film strip. This has about that vibe. It dosen't document anything. It's not entertaining. Nor is it either provacative or titillating. But worst of all, the knowledge presented is so elementary you'd have to show it to an unbelieavably slow room for any learning to take place.

Oh well, time to start scribbling another Van Halen logo and making up band names.

Posted in: Movies

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