Oscars Get Real with Three Six Mafia

Q: I cannot believe the 2006 Oscars had Three Six Mafia performing “You Know It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp.” What does that say about black people and black movies? Of all the hip-hop artists out here that deserve accolades for their lyricism and creativity we have Three Six Mafia taking the Oscar home for best song from a motion picture. This is very disturbing to me, this song doesn’t offer anything artistic for black people to look at and take anything from.

What about this show on BET (Black Entertainment Television), Countdown to Lockdown? A show that counts down Lil’ Kim’s time she has left before she looses her freedom. I know black people are unequally disproportioned in numbers when it comes to ethnicities being locked up, but do we really need a show to glorify and make a spectacle of this event? Doesn’t this seem like it’s becoming a norm in the black community that going to jail is expected at one point in your life, so should we put ourselves in a position that we can put a show on the air before we get sentenced or before we go to jail? I’m just getting so tired of the “buffoonery” that’s on TV today.

What do you think?

-Lamont “Element” Wright, Flint

A: Because this has been a huge topic of discussion for many people nationwide, I am going to dedicate my entire column to this. Here’s what I think:

I must admit when I first heard that the song “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” would be performed at the Oscars, I was shocked! Shocked because I couldn’t believe the academy was removing the stick from their asses and allowing it to happen, especially with all the censorship that has occurred after Janet’s nipple was released for 1.5 seconds. You, me and Three Six Mafia were surprised that they won!

Let’s look at it this way: Hustle and Flow is considered to be one of the best movies of 2005. People loved it and people love Terrence Howard. Isn’t this a good enough reason for the movie and the single to get awards and recognition?

The problem is that Hollywood disregards Black cinema so often that now that they’re paying attention to something so raw in subject matter that we see it as a negative thing. Here’s the deal, Hustle and Flow is art. Like it or not, all movies are art. What does it say about Black people and Black movies? Nothing. It doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things that Three Six Mafia won the Oscar for Best Song from a motion picture. Did you hear the other two songs it was up against? The competition was weak. What this win should do is open doors and create opportunities for the next artist and actor of color. I am hopeful that it does mean Hollywood will darken up a bit and start to see Black movies as just movies! If you think about it, the Oscars were a “minority” filled event this year with movies like Brokeback Mountain and Crash taking the lead. This is a good thing!

Black people are not one-dimensional, and this movie does not represent us all, so the fact that the movie is about a pimp should not be a problem. I haven’t seen the movie, but from what I understand, it’s about a pimp trying to better himself and get out of the game. That’s positive. Besides, I’m sure it is hard out there for pimps. Can you handle a harem of whores, dress sharp, and stay clear of the law?

Remember when The Color Purple didn’t do well at The Oscars back in the day? Some believe it was because the NAACP made a big deal out of the fact that Mister was beating Celie. The argument was that this was a negative portrayal of Black men. Yes, it was, but it happens, and not just in the Black community! Once everyone can stop making certain issues a “Black thing” we will be better off.

Should reality be omitted from movies where Black people are concerned because we don’t want to keep negative stereotypes alive? I have a secret to tell you about stereotypes-they will never die, so get over that. People’s minds will not be changed. If people think that only Black people like chicken and hot sauce with watermelon on the side, that’s their problem. Instead of pulling up a plate and having a good meal, people want to remain ignorant. Let them be and keep moving! I personally couldn’t care less what people think about me! It doesn’t change who I am.

The Color Purple was about so much more than spousal abuse, but when a lot of noise is made about something that doesn’t matter, it cheapens a beautiful thing! Three Six Mafia won an Oscar. Good for them. Cool! Yes, the song isn’t the greatest rhyme ever written, but we should not put so much weight on an Oscar and the fact that the song is about a pimp. So what! Remember Ice T is a pimp turned rapper turned actor. Truth is oftentimes better than fiction.

Buffoonery? I hate this word and it is appearing everywhere to describe what Black people do. Just because we make movies based in the hood does not mean it’s buffoonery. That’s reality. Some Black people do live in the hood, and there is hood life. If we care so much about which Black actors and movies win Oscars, what we have to do is continue to make quality movies that get the attention of the academy or show the academy and people in general that what they think about Black people is wrong. Judging from what I read in last month’s issue of this paper people have a habit of equating “ghetto” with negativity. This is something that we definitely need to work on. Referring to certain Black people as “the ghetto ones” is not acceptable.

About Lil’ Kim, leave her alone. Ol’ girl wanted to document her life before she spends an unjust year in jail. What’s wrong with that? It’s called show business. At least it’s on BET and not MTV even though the same people own both channels. Lil’ Kim is making money while she is behind bars. Congratulate her on investing in her time out of the spotlight! Would it make you feel better if we had seen Martha Stewart’s boring ass Countdown to Lockdown?

We’re too hard on each other as a people. We’re dammed if we do and dammed if we don’t! Don’t misunderstand me. I am not blind or ignorant to the fact that there are a lot of ignorant, self hating issues within the Black community, and racism is alive and well but we cannot and should not concentrate all our energy on trivial issues like Three Six Mafia winning an award and Lil’ Kim counting down the days of her freedom.

Spring is here! Get out and exercise that phat ass you gained over winter. I know I will be!

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