Sunday, September 5, 2010

For Young Males, IMAGE is EVERYTHING

When I was growing up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn back in the 60's, image was the most important thing to the cats I hung out with. You had to project a sense of cool, yet also a sense of an "I take no crap" attitude. That's why the guys we looked up to weren't the, what we thought then, lame mailmen, or teachers or bus drivers, but the hustlers, pimps and drug dealers.

These were the guys who commanded respect. They did it by the way they walked, the way they dressed, the money they flashed and the honeys they always had around them. But they also expounded a sense of danger; of "mess with me at your own risk". In a word, it was the image they projected. In our country, and I guess the entire world for that matter, it's all about the vision of how you picture yourself to everyone else. Perception has become reality.

Today, the art of image and branding yourself is, basically the same as it's been for the last century. The cool, "bad boys" are still the ones the young males look up to and want to emulate, and the ones that most of the women are hypnotically attracted to by the sheer power of their bravado and aura. The tragedy is that most of the time the "bad boys" are caught up in bad behavior and this becomes acceptable to the legion of fans who follow and admire them.

When Tony Montana strutted his gangsterish path of drug dealing, torture and murder up on the movie screen in the '80's, young kids were mesmerized and idolized every move he made. That flick came out almost 30 years ago, but "Scarface" tee shirts are still worn out on the streets today. Tony Montana stood for everything vile, amoral and negative in American life, but he turned into a warped, distorted "god" to a nation of young males. That's because he maintained the image of dangerous cool throughout the two hour movie. And his brand is as powerful in 2010 as it was in 1983.

This brings me to the movie I saw with a friend a few days ago called 'The Expendables' (Pictured Above). I have basically outgrown the violent, action movie that I enjoyed when I was younger and wanted to see another film, but my friend was insistent on seeing old school studs, Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren...etc, all together in the same flick. It even has a cameo by "The Governator".

All I can tell you is that this movie, to me, takes violence to a new level. The weapons they used were state-of-the-art and I found out there are at least 50 different ways you can butcher a person with a knife. Heads were literally blown off and bodies cut in half. And the sad part is: most of the audience didn't even blink.

A while later, I went online and saw this:

(CNN) -- Boston police have arrested three suspects who they say stabbed a Domino's pizza delivery man and drove off in his car.

Two teenangers and a 20-year-old are charged with homicide in what investigators described as a brutal crime.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said 58-year-old Richel Nova's death "was chilling in its callousness and violence."

Perception is now reality.


  1. Robert,
    it is a sad, but true, commentary on our values as a society. If you go out and murder someone, you'll be given shelter, food and clothing. Yet, if you have the bad luck to be without a job, you become homeless, and will live on the streets to die of exposure, starvation and violence.

    What are we teaching people? That violence pays. It is a tragedy of our time.

  2. Excellent my dear brother!

    Well said...well articulated. And if
    you noticed; all the people at the
    receiving end of most of the violence
    were black and brown peoples. Now if
    only your words would penetrate the
    desensitized minds of our young
    men today...

    Stay strong and keep up the good work.


  3. It's disheartening to know that the movie industry has nothing better to do than to disenfranchise our youth by demoralizing them even more than they have been. It's true that violence in the streets has grown to epidemic proporations, however, we cannot place the blame entirely on the media or the fact that there is an abundance of guns so easily available to our young men and women. As a single parent and a former educator, I have witnessed firsthand how many of our children grow up without positive male role models to emulate. If our young men continue to be raised in homes where respect, love and Godly principles are not demonstrated, my heart continues to ache for them.

    I pray that someone who can truly make a difference is touched by what you are doing. Please continue to make your voice heard.

    Nadine P. Simmons

  4. I agree with the sister Nadine.The history of violence in movies has been well chronicled,the writer of this blog and I have both read crime dramas like "Little Ceasear" which became a motion picture starring Edward G. Robinson. Media has always played the "bad boy",that can be redeemed by the love of a woman or he has been potrayed as a heartless,maniacal and depraved killer.If you go back to the days of the Roman-Greco empires violence was glorified with gladiators fighting to the death,humans particularly christians thrown in the arena pits with LIONS plural and it was considered sport.We have a uncanny desire to want to destroy each other and we have learned how to enjoy it, not just now but as far as human life has been written and chronicled about.As the blogger mentioned earlier we were in awe of the so called "cool" cats that permeated our "hoods". I personally was enamored by the likes of the "Iceberg Slims" and "Priest" from the motion picture "SuperFly",but there was something else that knawed at my conscience,I was discouraged not only by my parents, elders and teachers but I was discouraged by those that were in "The Life",stating that they did what they did because they believed that they had no other options and that I was the future for many that will follow if I set a proper precedent,I didn't understand then but I understand now!We were shaped for this time Brother Batista was shaped just for this time to bring "TRUE KNOWLEDGE" to our youth,as we were told "Dont you jump into this pool,cuz the water is too deep". We all need to make a difference if you were told by the "Players of yesteryear" that their "Life" wasn't our "LIFE" then it is time to pick up our batons of truth and knowledge and begin to instill what was told to us.No one said it was going to be easy Yea!they(the media) will let us know all the horrifics but how many stories are told of the survivers, the overcomers, the winners in life that don't play sports or are not involved in entertainment.Their stories should be told and continually told as a reminder of what is possible, the knowledge of killing people is well documented and people of color,we have been our biggest en in me,change the thinking change the culture! I too was mystified by this "Scarface" nonsense,it was a lousy movie even Al Pacino has acknowledged that.We as people of color need to stand for something other than the BS that is forced on us, We need to start with character and integrity,Character is developing the knowledge of truth in ourselves, Integrity is acting it out.This battle is a uphill climb but it isn't insurmountable,Our people have overcome larger obstacles before and we will again.Change the thinking Change the culture.