Hogan's Alley

Monday, March 06, 2006

Blogging The Oscars - Pimp Nation?

For me, the most egregious moment in last night's Oscar award show was the awarding of It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp the Oscar for Best Original Song. Granted none of the three nominated songs will be remembered next week, not to mention next year, and it may be time to recognize the rap genre, but for Hollywood to glamorize pimps is plain wrong.

Do any of the voters know how pimps maintain their incomes and lifestyles? Are they aware of the often brutal manipulation of the women who are, in this very song, referred disdainfully as "ho's" and "bitches"? Has no one in Hollywood met a prostitute or ex-prostitute? Have none of them seen any of the plentiful HBO documentaries about the prostitutes of Hunts Point, Atlantic City, etc.

Pimps are despicable human beings and they deserve nothing but the disdain of their fellow citizens, not the glamorized approbation of the film and music industries. This award sadly perpetuates the continuing marketing of an image of African American culture that misrepresents it as one of thugs, hos, pimps and men who disdain relationships with women and the children they may father. Why must Hollywood be complicit in this further degradation of black Americans? Where are the movies and songs about black men and women who do the non-glamorous work of firemen, carpenters, salespeople, social workers, managers, teachers and who take care of the financial and emotional needs of their families. They are African America in 2006. Their achievement in the face of some still-present discrimination is to be admired.

I suspect this ongoing crime is allowed to continue because, sadly, the decision makers in show business, like many Americans, live largely segregated lives. They only know what sells to the white kids, in their also segregated enclaves, who make up the bulk of the market for music and film. In the film Hustle and Flow, the song in question is created by a pimp with a heart of gold, wonderfully portrayed by Terrence Howard in a performance well deserving of the nomination it received. His character, DJay, does not hurt his women, he charms them. He is barely surviving economically and, as portrayed, is really a decent intelligent person.

But in the end, it is hard out here for this particular pimp, as the song says, because,"bitches be jumping ship," escaping the life he requires them to lead. Not because he has to get up every day and face the boredom of the workaday world. So he dreams, as everyone must, of succeeding as a rap artist. As if rap artist and athlete were the only dreams worth nurturing in African American young people. Dreams of obtaining a college degree, a decent job, a car, a home, these are apparently not sexy enough for the marketers of today's music and movies to waste their time with.

That is as may be, but it is certainly not something to be celebrated or admired.