I did not care for the film “GhettoPhysics: Will the Real Pimps and Hos Please Stand Up?” Why? Because I am a 38-year old white male who lives in a safe suburbia with his wife and child. I pay attention to the news and watch MSNBC daily to keep up with politics. This film is cleverly aimed at teenagers and younger people in the world whose main concern is proper length of sag in their pants and trying to find their way in life. If anyone this film is aimed at knows who Joe Biden is, I’d be shocked. I’m not being condescending, I’m just pointing out that “GhettoPhysics” was not made for me. That being said, I can still respect what the film is trying to do which is wake young people up and try and get them to be proactive instead of reactive.
Filmmaker and author E. Raymond Brown is an extremely intelligent man yet he doesn’t use his smarts to talk down to people. Instead, he frames the world in a way young people can grasp and, in this case, it’s how everyone in the world can be categorized as a pimp or as a ho. As funny and inappropriate as that may sound, Brown has a point. You’re either working for someone who’s pimping you out or you have people working for you and you’re the pimp. For me that revelation hit with a resounding “duh” but for someone who has never acknowledged that simple fact, this film could be a mind-blower.
Brown interviews all sorts of folks from men and women on the street to people like Ice-T, KRS-One, Norman Lear and Cornel West and gets their views on society. His goal is to enlighten young people to take action against folks who seek to oppress them and in these modern times, that oppressor is pretty much financial institutions. But it could be anyone seeking to keep you from being who you want to be. In the film Brown also plays a fictional college professor who teaches a class in “GhettoPhysics” and he uses these scenes to make current, concrete points about how youth are tricked into bad credit and lulled to sleep through media while they lay back and take it all as a part of life. Again, I felt these scenes were silly and I wanted to slap almost every kid in Brown’s classroom but again, this film was not made for me. It was made for youth in America who aren’t paying attention to the machinations at large.
I truly appreciate what Brown is trying to say and do but overall, the film felt like a conglomeration of docs I’ve seen before. One that came to mind was the excellent Hughes Brothers doc “American Pimp,” but that one dealt explicitly in the realm of real-life pimps and hos. In “GhettoPhysics,” Brown uses pimps and hos as an analogy and it works but I still felt it was information I’d seen before. I also felt that there’s a standard set of intelligent people that are interviewed in every single race-related doc ever made: KRS-One and Cornel West. While both of these men are bright and insightful, I’ve heard their schpeel numerous times and it added to the feeling of redundancy I got from the film as a whole. Granted, this film isn’t just aimed at African-American youth, it’s for all teens and young men and women, but seeing as Brown is African-American I couldn’t help but feel as though the film was skewing a bit towards the minorities.
Still, “GhettoPhysics: Will the Real Pimps and Hos Please Stand Up?” could be a helpful and inspiring film if it finds the correct audience. In a world where nearly every documentary deals with how doomed we all are, it was refreshing to see a film seeking to inspire and fire up its viewers by telling them they can make a change. Again, I didn’t really like the film and found the information redundant, but I also try to pay attention to what’s going on in the world and I recognize not everyone does the same thing.