Socialist Worker

Boyz n the Hood re-release couldn’t be more relevant

Issue No. 2528

Director John Singleton

Director John Singleton (Pic: Canadian Film Centre)

Back in the early 1990s anyone who followed black American culture could sense a coming explosion. A series of black films were omens of a new era.

Boyz n the Hood, by 23 year old writer-director John Singleton, was one of the hardest hitting. Now, after 25 years, the film is rightly hailed a classic and has been re-released.

Its central themes—racism, poverty, police and gang violence, and the complete indifference of the state—could not be more relevant today.

The central characters are shown growing up in mid-1980s Los Angeles. Blood-soaked sidewalks merge into child’s pictures that depict funerals and coffins. The film then jumps forward seven years and the innocence of early youth is increasingly clouded.

Cuba Gooding stars as Tre Styles, a bright teenager who ought to have a great future. Furious Styles, played by Laurence Fishburne, tries his best to shield his son from the worst of the ghetto but fears for his future.

Ricky (Morris Chestnut) is a talented athlete and looks set for a football scholarship at college. But his half-brother, Doughboy (NWA rapper, Ice Cube), is by now a member of the Crips gang. They are locked into a battle for territory and power.

Despite their intentions, the group of friends become trapped in a spiral of violence that can only end in tragedy.

One of the great strengths of the film is how it shows the way racism and poverty impact, rather than making cheap moral points about the dangers of guns and drugs.

The depiction of the police was controversial at the time of the original release. Some said it overstated a problem.

But in 1992, a year after the film’s release, Los Angeles was burning, and the biggest urban uprising since the 1960s roared in response to vicious police racism.

Directed by John Singleton, re-released and out now


by Soweto Kinch. Out now.

Mathematics and geometry have long provided inspiration for musicians.

Numerical concepts like the Fibonacci sequence and the “golden ratio” can be found in the music of everyone from Bach to Bartok, from John Coltrane to Steve Coleman.

Saxophonist, composer, rapper and radio host Soweto Kinch’s new album Nonagram revolves around a nine-sided wheel, or nonagon. Each musical point along the wheel explores a different number or shape.

What Shadows

by Chris Hannan

Oxford academic and daughter of a Caribbean migrant Rose Cruickshank wants answers. Enoch Powell’s racist “rivers of blood” speech about immigration shattered her childhood.

Now she wants to know what led him to give the speech. Will a meeting with the man himself allow her to find the inner peace she desperately craves?

Actor Ian McDiarmid plays MP Enoch Powell in the world premiere of What Shadows.

Until 12 November, tickets from £15, Birmingham Repertory Theatre

After Orlando

After Orlando is a global theatre action in response to the homophobic massacre in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people died on 12 June.

This Chaskis Theatre event will include staged readings of 25 plays and poems influenced by the Orlando shootings, plus live music and dancing.

Thu 3rd Nov, 7.45pm, £10. Gerry’s Studio, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London, E15 1BN.

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