Nearly 30 years after its release, “Boyz n the Hood” still stands as a culturally impactful film tied with themes of family, capitalism and the traumatizing effects of Black Americans living in poor neighborhoods.
Full of violence and gunfire, director John Singleton paints a grim picture of being Black in America. In his film debut of “Boyz n the Hood” of 1991, Singleton became the first African American and youngest person to have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director at 24 years old. Being a native of south Los Angeles, Singleton was surrounded by drugs and violence, as is depicted in the movie.
“Boyz n the Hood” starts off the story with Tre Styles, a young boy living with his single mother in Los Angeles. After Tre gets into a fight at school, he is forced to live with his father. Furious Styles played by Laurence Fishburne, is an authoritarian man who brings focus and structure in his son’s life. Tre reunites with his childhood friends, Doughboy (Ice Cube) and Ricky (Morris Chestnut). They all live in a neighborhood where gunshots, searchlights and drugs surround them like hungry dogs.
Seven years goes by and Tre is now a teenager, finding himself dealing with his girlfriend, his father, and more importantly, his future. Tre understands the effects of being Black in America, after an encounter with a police officer, who is also Black, as he holds a gun to Tre’s throat.
Singleton threads a perfect combination of flaws, maturity and the issues of growing up within his characters, making this film absolutely impeccable.
A scene that displays themes of capitalism is pieced together from a great monologue delivered by Furious Styles, about half way through the film. Referencing the idea of gentrification, an economic change brought to a neighborhood, sometimes appearing controversial. Furious talks about the importance of keeping everything in their community “black owned” and the dangers of decreasing property values. He asks the group a question. “Why is there a gun shop on every corner in this community?” “They want us to kill ourselves,” he responds. “The best way to destroy a people is you take away their ability to reproduce themselves.” A great reference to systemic racism.
Singleton’s passion drives the story throughout the film. We see Tre become demoralized once he loses someone close to him. Ultimately, it’s Tre who breaks free of the violence in the hood.
A perfect summer movie. You won’t find action and adventure like you would in Indiana Jones, only compassion and realism compiled between gang culture from a perspective on an inner city in Los Angeles.
But this isn’t a fairytale. This is a highly-ranking film to experience.
“Boyz n the Hood” shows authenticity concerning the Black experience in America, even today. The images throughout the film are eye-opening experiences. From the staggering racial tensions, neighborhood violence, and struggle of growing up, Singleton’s vision proves to resonate decades later with the Black Lives Matter message, even in the hood. From the soundtrack, performances, and direction that Singleton takes on, “Boyz n the Hood” is a dramatic and everlasting tale of gang culture mixed with family values.