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Film / South Central

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South Central is a Hood Film released in 1992, produced by Oliver Stone and written and directed by Stephen Wilburn Anderson, based on the novel Crips by Donald Bakeer.

True to its name, the film is based around an African-American street gang in South Central Los Angeles, of which protagonist Bobby Johnson (Glenn Plummer) is a member, and wastes no time reconnecting with his comrades. Upon getting out of jail, Bobby finds out that his girlfriend gave birth to his son while he was incarcerated, and is now hooked on drugs, prostituting herself to get her fix. He sees that she's getting pimped out by a heroin dealer who goes by "Genie Lamp", and after being threatened by him, decides to take revenge by killing him. Evidence being left at the scene of the crime and him refusing to snitch gets him incarcerated again, and allows his son to be raised by the streets. Hearing about what his son has become motivates Bobby to wise up and get out of prison as fast as he can.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Jimmy Johnson.
  • Artifact Title: Hoover Street Deuces got its name from the origins of the gang, which was just two people.
  • Asshole Victim: No one will be missing Genie Lamp after his death.
  • The Atoner: Bobby realizes that his gang affiliation was wrong and especially not something he should raise his son around. He spends the latter half of the film fixing himself up to save his son from repeating his poor decisions.
  • Badass Pacifist: Bobby manages to convince Ray Ray to let him and his son go by simply giving a heartfelt speech about being a father.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Loco is just as involved with crime as his friends.
  • Big Bad: Ray Ray.
  • Child Soldier: Jimmy isn't even in his teens and is recruited into the Deuces as a runner. Ray Ray has also been recruiting other children into the gang for his own profit.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Loco, true to his name.
  • Coming of Age Story: For both Bobby and his son, Jimmy. Bobby gets out of jail hanging out with the same knuckleheads that got him locked up in the first place, which gets him right back inside when he kills Genie Lamp. Jimmy, growing up without a positive father figure, gets corrupted by awful influences, and becomes indoctrinated into the gang, callously committing crimes even after it gets him shot. The film is mostly about Bobby learning to finally grow up and become the man his son needs.
  • The Corrupter: Ray Ray is grooming Jimmy to be a cold-blooded gangster.
  • Dirty Harriet: Bobby, Loco, and another gang member are cruising down the road when Loco spots a prostitute. Bobby, who's trying to lay low after killing a drug dealer named Genie Lamp, suspects there might be trouble and urges them to drive away, but the other two bring her into their car anyways. Loco tries to flirt with her by offering her drugs, at which point the prostitute reveals that she's actually an undercover officer, leading to their arrests.
  • Et Tu, Brute?:
    • While Bobby is in jail, Ray Ray recruits his son Jimmy as a runner, stealing stereos for him.
    • The jail Deuces disown Bobby when he decides to stay out of their gang activities to process Ray Ray's betrayal and Jimmy being shot. Even Loco apologetically leaves Bobby high and dry as he "can't be alone [there]".
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Bobby takes the cornrows out of his hair (or perhaps got them forcibly cut after being sent there) and lets it grow into messy locs after about ten years in prison.
  • Generation Xerox: Bobby and Ray Ray's fathers were the founders of the Hoover Street Deuces. Similarly, Jimmy eventually becomes a member.
  • Gut Punch: Jimmy being shot.
  • Important Haircut: Bobby cuts his hair down to a neat, tightly-compressed, short afro and his goatee down to a mustache when he gets out of jail for the second time, reflecting his rebirth into a better man and the father his son needs.
  • Improbable Weapon User: More like Improbable Attachment User. Bobby executes Genie Lamp by sticking his gun into a baked potato, filling in for a suppressor.
  • Insane Troll Logic: A Deuce member takes Bobby taking time to process his son getting shot as evidence that he wants nothing to do with the gang anymore, and abandons him. To be fair, he's eventually right.
  • I Owe You My Life: Bobby starts warming up to Ali after he and his fellow Muslims save him from the Aryan Brotherhood.
  • Ironic Name: The leader of the Aryan Brotherhood goes by the name of "Buddha". A case of Truth in Television, as this references lesser known beliefs of white supremacists adopted from WWII era Chilean Pro-Facist Miguel Serrano, who had extreme fringe beliefs that Adolf Hitler was the reincarnation of Buddha and was the true incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future who would save the world from Kali Yuga, an apocalyptic age of existence and extreme misery. Alternately, oftentimes they hold some sort of admiration for Asian cultures.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Genie Lamp is no saint by any means but he’s not lying about the fact that Ray-Ray is jealous that Genie is the one making all the money from selling drugs while Ray is getting nothing and using the hood as an excuse of why he’s jealous. Genie would be proven right later on way after his death as Ray and Deuce take over the drug game and Ray basically uses it to get rich while completely disregarding the hood and even the loyal Deuce members like Loco and especially Bobby as he used him just to get to the top.
  • Kick the Dog: A Deuce member who approaches Bobby while the latter is trying to process all of the terrible news he just received proceeds to kick him out of the gang when he refuses to cooperate with them. Keep in mind that this is right after Bobby gets word that Ray Ray has betrayed the gang outside, is taking all the profit, enlisting child members including Bobby's own son Jimmy, and Jimmy had just been shot.
  • Malcolm Xerox: Subverted. Ali pushes his beliefs hard on Bobby, which annoys him at first, but he turns out to be a guy that is able to get through to him, which allows them to get along and teaches Bobby a valuable lesson.
  • Meaningful Name: Loco is fucking weird. He speaks fast, his facial expressions are often very goofy and animated, and his mannerisms are erratic. It gets even worse when he enters jail a shermhead.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: One major factor motivating Bobby to finally let Ali in is the fact that Ali lost his son to the streets while Bobby still has the chance to save him.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Ali's son died due to his absence turning his son onto the streets. This is why he's coming down so hard on Bobby to fix himself up.
  • Papa Wolf: Bobby is pissed when he hears that Ray Ray is grooming his son into the gang, and spends the remaining time on his sentence trying to mend his ways to steer him on the right path.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Aryan Brotherhood, naturally. They constantly harass people of color, particularly the Deuces, and force debts onto them at the drop of a hat, threatening violence if they don't comply.
  • Prison Rape: The way Buddha strokes Bobby's hair and flashes a Slasher Smile at him before the Muslims intervene suggest that this is what he was planning to do once he had Bobby at his mercy.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The Aryan Brotherhood is a prison gang of white supremacists who constantly try to force "debts" of various goods onto unsuspecting prisoners of color and threaten violence if they aren't met.
  • Time Skip: The latter half of the film is set ten years after the former.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Bobby grows a shaggy goatee after some time in jail.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Jimmy is raised by his prostitute mother and his father's gang while the latter is serving time in jail. This causes him to start committing crimes as a preteen.
  • Undying Loyalty: Loco enters jail and stands by Bobby, especially when he saves him from the Aryan Brotherhood. Subverted later on when he joins the jail Deuces in abandoning Bobby because he fears being alone.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Ken Dog does not appear in prison with Bobby and Loc Dog, despite being arrested alongside them.
  • Would Hurt a Child: A man Jimmy stole from has no problem shooting him in the back with a shotgun.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Ali is the one person who sees true potential in Bobby; the potential to turn his life around for the sake of his son.