. . . Go see for yourself

Alisa Samuels

April 17, 1991|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Alisa Samuels is a reporter for The Evening Sun.

DON'T believe the negative publicity surrounding "New Jack City."

Go see it for yourself.

When I saw it, people didn't erupt in violence, nor did they rush out to buy drugs.

Instead, like any other good film, "New Jack City" entertains, informs and makes the audience think.

It's a realistic movie about the world of a Harlem drug lord named Nino Brown (played magnificently by Wesley Snipes) and his cohorts.

Brown is a ruthless, egotistical, greedy man who sucks the life out of his community. But in the end, the victimized community turns against Brown, who is arrested and unsuccessfully prosecuted. Then a resident who has witnessed the senseless killings boils over with frustration and rage -- and kills Brown.

The message is that violence begets violence. The message isn't that violence is glamorous and acceptable to blacks. Neither is the message that drugs are glamorous or acceptable.

Unfortunately, this movie, directed by Mario Van Peebles, and other black films have gotten a reputation that scares away whites. At the opening of "New Jack City" in Westwood, Calif., a melee erupted after frustrated ticket buyers couldn't find seats because the theater was oversold. Soon afterward, looting began.

The participants hadn't even seen the movie.

Likewise, Spike Lee's most recent "Mo Better Blues" and the prophetic and compelling "Do the Right Thing" in 1989 were labeled controversial. People said the latter would spark riots. It didn't.

It entertained and made people think, much as did last year's charming, supernatural hit "Ghost."

The thinking that causes people to stay away from films like "New Jack City" is disappointing. Are people really that out of touch with blacks? There's no need to be. We're humans, too. And we want to enjoy seeing people like us on the big screen.

Furthermore, it's only recently that we've had a number of LTC movies directed by talented blacks such as Lee, Van Peebles and Robert Townsend. It's good to see blacks on the big screen taking charge and playing roles that aren't prostitutes or hoods, as blacks do in so many white-directed movies. We are not one-dimensional people whose lives are plagued by crime.

Were "Godfather III" and "Goodfellas" accused of inciting violence? It seems Hollywood has a double standard for black movies. That kind of thinking will change only with time, fairness and positive thinking.

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