Culture Film Music — 01 April 2013
Breaking Bad: “Spring Breakers” Hates Hip-Hop Culture

I’m not being dramatic, really.

The film “Spring Breakers” hates hip-hop.  Well, not hip-hop as we know it.

More like the stripper, gun and drug-dealer worshipping refuse that plays all day on the radio.

But they, like the record labels and executives, are all too willing to exploit it.

The movie, in theaters now, has been out for a while and I was actually shocked that the subtext seems to have been largely lost on critics who are more focused on James Franco’s unabashed scene chewing as white boy rapper and street criminal “Alien” or the cinematic deflowering of Disney Princesses, including Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens.

But I checked it out this weekend and the message about the horrors of living a rap lifestyle was about as in your face as the bright-colored bikinis.  Real hip-hop bad.  Faux hip-hop worse.  And only those who walk away from it fast,  get to live.  I’ve  got proof, but don’t go any further because there are some spoilers ahead.

Ready now?  Here we go:

(1) Rap music prefaced everything bad that was about to happen, and it starts early when our quartet of spoiled spring breakers get water pistols and hold up a chicken shack to score enough money for a “spiritual” journey to Florida for spring break.  Nicki Minaj’s “Moment for Life” plays in the getaway car and hypes up the girls, with totally first world problems, for their big heist.  True, some Britney Spears was thrown in there too, but we all know Brit Brit too is considered ratchet these days.  No surprises there.

(2) Slang is best used when you’re, you know, committing crimes.  This message was reinforced multiple times through repetitive, vapid dialogue.  When the girls break into the chicken shack, they go from everyday spacey speak to sounding like refugees from a Lil Boosie video, calling their marks “muthafuckas” and affecting an entirely different, stereotypical, slang as they promise to kill anyone who doesn’t give up the goods.

(3) The truly bad influence is a rapper. Alien is not just a grill-wearing, corn-rowed “white boy” living in the streets, he is also a rapper.  And one I believe is a direct rip-off of so-called white boy MC Riff Raff aka Jody HighrollerRiff feels the same way.  Franco, stupidly enough, has tried to play dumb about this influence, but check it out below and compare this scene from Riff Raff to when Franco’s Alien shows the girl his home and prized possessions.  But no matter his genesis, the character of Alien is a jerk who bails these semi-innocents out of jail for typical “breaker” debauchery and proceeds to try and corrupt them, though to be fair, they turn the tables on him in a pivotal scene.

(4) The villain is a (real) rapper.  Archie (Gucci Mane), the so-called kingpin in this old MTV video stretched to over an hour, is Alien’s former friend who taught him everything he knew in the Black neighborhood they grew up in together.  (And yes, Alien actually tells the girls he grew up in that Black neighborhood because otherwise how would you ‘splain how he gets down?)  So what did Archie teach him: Robbing, shooting, menacing, drug dealing and killing.  Apparently, he didn’t offer great tutelage in the latter skill, but let’s save that point for later.  We’ve got more to cover.

(5) Nobody with sense wants any part of the real culture behind rap. Faith, played by the adorable, babyface Selena Gomez, is having no parts of that real hip-hop.  Sure, it’s cool to wave your hands to in the car or pretend to be a stripper you once saw in a video.  It’s even cool to be called a “bad bitch,” like you’re Nicki Minaj or an extra in a Drake video.  But when faced with actual, factual impoverished-looking Black folk in a pool hall in one of the earlier scenes, baby girl didn’t just leave the scene, she left the entire movie.  The churchgoing beach babe is never seen again as she, lips a trembling at what might befall her friends, boards the bus back to school.  Mind you, it was okay for her to be surrounded by coke-snorting, orgy-like, invitation-to-date-rape antics on the beach where everyone was beautiful and seemingly of her ilk.

(6) The movie kills the poseur.  Alien ends up dead, laid out during an attempt to assassinate Gucci Mane’s character for doing not much more than grazing the arm of another one of the mostly amorphous girls. Mind you, the wounded one goes straight home, so I’m not sure where the Miller’s Crossing vendetta came in.  (And again we note that, yep, when ish gets real, these girls can go back to their real lives and blend right back on in.)  But Alien gets merked during his own scheme and the bikini-wearing chicks keep running, gats up,  like nothing happened.  So, see that?  Emulating rap culture too much will get you killed.  Period, point blank.

(7) The movie also kills the real rapper (and pretty much everyone he knows).  Yes, the directors expect us to believe that two college students whose worst previous crime has been holding guns on people and shouting dialogue from old Master P videos are now trained assassins who can merk an entire compound full of seasoned criminals and hangers-on.  Not one of the patrons got even a single shot in.  And Archie/Gucci gets popped.  And it ain’t pretty.  This would be like the cast of “Baywatch” obliterating Scarface.  Come on, now.

At the end, the two beautiful (newly turned) killers steal a car and return to their normal lives because as mere voyeurs of hip-hop culture, you know, you can always bail when ish gets too real.  Man, if  only some of the dummies influenced by the dark side of rap culture could do the same. Aye, Lil Poopy and your poppy?


Your turn: Did you see the movie? What did you think of the (ahem) homage to hip-hop culture?  Is mainstream America starting to turn on this art form because of its potential negative influence far beyond the inner city?  Or was I just mad I spent $10 to see James Franco be Riff Raff when I could watch Jody High Roller on YouTube for free? Share your opinions of it below.






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