Baby Boy is the latest work from John Singleton -the maker of the film Boyz 'n the Hood, made in 1991. With an all black cast, the movie is aimed at a black audience. Singleton says Baby Boy is his version of 'What's Goin' On'. However, unlike the song by Marvin Gaye that challenged 1960s America, this movie is described by its maker as 'like watching the soul of a black man on screen'.
Baby Boy is based upon the popular psychological clichŽ bandied about that racism has made black men like children. They are unable to grow up and accept their responsibilities. Singleton's movie asks the question, what's wrong with our black men? Why don't they want to settle down and get a job?
Why are they having babies with different babymothers? Set in a southern California neighbourhood, this film doesn't come close to touching the soul of black folks. The audience liked the black homeboy-style dialogue. Lines like, 'Girl, I wouldn't take that. You want to put a check on your man,' went down a treat. A major weakness of Baby Boy is that it doesn't feature any racism.
Instead audiences are shown angry and often violent black men completely out of context. In your face sex scenes sometimes raised a laugh.
But, oh boy, does this film fail to capture the intimacy and reality of tensions in relationships between men, women and their children. The impact that racism has on black people's lives is lost as it slips into a Hollywood, feelgood gangster movie.