Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Hustle & Flow


Right off the bat I have to say that I don’t believe the central premise of the movie for a minute. You can say, rightly, that socio-economic pressures drive young black men into poor career choices such as dealing drugs and being in gangs. But I believe that being a pimp requires a rottenness of the soul, a deep-down hatred for women, and thus, practically by definition, you can’t be a pimp and a decent man at the same time. You are highly unlikely even to be capable of redemption as the man in this film clearly is. My point: if he had any decency, he’d never have become a pimp in the first place. You may not agree with me, but I believe this deeply. [Hear! Hear!]

However, set that aside. Grant the premise that he somehow stumbled into it, and just has never had the moral courage to reject the lifestyle because he doesn’t know what else to do with his life. (And clearly he’s not very good at it. His ride is a piece of shit. He’s got no fine clothes or an ounce of bling-bling. Hell, what’s the point of being a pimp if you can’t wear about fifty pounds of gold chains?) Allowing the writer that rather large point … this is a fine little movie. I’m remembering that I didn’t believe Risky Business or Pretty Woman for an instant, either, but had a good time.

It is true that anyone can have a dream, even a pimp. So we follow Djay in pursuit of his, and this middle part is the best. I’m a sucker for watching the creative process, even if the art being created is not exactly my cup of hip-hop. (For me, the big surprise of Oscar Night was not Crash beating Brokeback Mountain, but “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” taking Best Song … until I recalled the spiritless crap it was up against. Congrats to the academy for having the stones to chose something with some energy in it.”) Terrence Howard is the heart and soul of this film, and he is very, very good.

I also liked the way the movie wrapped up. (SPOILER WARNING) Djay’s demo has gotten some airplay, and people seem to like it. He may be on the way to big-league stardom … and we know from seeing his old “sort of” friend (played by Ludacris) that it may be more soul destroying than pimping. Making music is magic. Marketing it, complete with your own armed posse, shootouts with other crews, Mac-10s blazing between black Mercedes SUVs, the lure of cheap and easy drugs and pussy, selling yourself out … shit, it’s hard out there for a superstar rapper. Ask Tupac.