BET had a documentary on a year or so back called American Gangster. Under normal circumstances, one would say it’s simply telling a story about people the general populace might not be aware of, just giving information. After all those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it, right? Sadly, however, one has to keep in mind BET’s recent history and what kind of demographic it seems to want to court. You guessed it: ghetto people!
This isn’t a rant on BET itself, that’s another post (surely one the audience has been looking for right here or on a more specifically Black-oriented blog, where the channel is frequently ripped, so let this author not lose focus here with this long set-up). And let me state now that it was among BET’s offerings that featured fairly solid production values (just like First In: Compton, a show you should follow while it’s here). The ugly part is the context one can’t miss, because if you’ve known enough ghetto people, especially males, you’d know they’re downright fascinated by criminals. And BET, having evolved into a station ghetto people turn to, apparently couldn’t resist catering to ghetto interests by airing this series, showing history a lot of ghetto people want to repeat!
Why is the ghetto world so interested in criminals? Ghetto people especially like to keep special edition Blu-Rays (the bootleg DVD just won’t cut it in these cases) of movies like Scarface, Goodfellas, Public Enemies, and American Gangster (no relation to the above) that romanticized the dubious protagonists of these flicks as the best at their respective professions. So when the real deal exists, just like high profile athletes and rappers, everyone wants to be (or be with) that guy. Wantin’ autographs and locks of their hair and sh*t. Dare I say he’s the ghetto person’s picture perfect idea of manhood. “F*ck Warren Buffett and Barack Obama, I wanna be Nicky Barnes or Freeway Ricky Ross!”
He lives that playboy lifestyle, successfully picks up all the freaks, comes and goes as he pleases, drives flashy expensive whips with equally pricey rims on them, holds down really nasty guns (another favorite ghetto toy), regularly orders bottle service at the swankiest clubs in town…he’s the epitome of hood rich. Yet while wrapping their lips around his d*ck, people don’t wrap their heads around what kinda heinous things he might have done to get to that level. And if and when they find out, they’re quick to excuse it! If duke goes to jail, he could have raped 12 kids and smoked their mothers and these idolaters of criminals are urging him to “keep his head up”…as if he’s somehow the victim. As if he’s a political prisoner, targeted for persecution by the powers that be for living and doing righteously. No matter what, the ghetto person has the criminal’s back.
The amounts of futures such criminals have probably destroyed (whether by physically killing people or some law changes due to them) don’t rate to ghetto people. They also don’t allow in their brains that said criminal whose picture is ironed on to their T-shirt would probably just as soon have them whacked if he felt one was in the way of what he wanted. But this congregation is too busy wishing they were as tough and rebellious, too busy living vicariously through the stories of these guys (as well as hating the idea of the criminal’s other enemy, law enforcement) to even consider there’s more than one side to every story. And that all heroes have elements of their lives that would make that proverbial little boy from the Black Sox scandal cry “Say it ain’t so, Joe!”
Author’s note: Yeah, so many topics could have been #50 on the ghetto bucket list, but the hot hand (immediately inspired by the f*ckery one reads over on AllHipHop) wrote this one!