My own children are at their grandparent’s house this week for spring break so I can write. Every day I go to the gym, come home and write like a motherfucker, and then go out with my husband. Sunday night we saw a show at the Brooklyn Academy of Music after eating at Pork Slope with friends (Yes, you read that correctly, it’s a BBQ place in Park Slope. Love the name.). Still feeling stuffed on Monday night, we decided to go see an independent film at IFC called “Gimme the Loot.”
When it ended, I wanted to hug the screen. Why?
Because the film was the perfect portrayal of the kids I taught in high school for 11 years. No exaggeration. They had filthy mouths, but big hearts. They were desperate for respect, but had strange ways of showing it to each other–sometimes it was outright and beautiful, sometimes it was laced in curse words and insults. They wore grimy t-shirts and Nike sneakers. Their hair was unkempt, but they had swagger. They were a hot steaming pile of contradictions. They were HUMAN.
Aren’t we all?
Of course, the correct answer here is yes, but oftentimes I feel like young, urban, Black or Latino/a men and women get portrayed in such a one-sided manner, and the portrayal is usually negative. They are drug dealers, teenage mothers, graffiti artists, gang members, criminals–the end. Well, yeah, they might be any of the above, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have other parts of themselves. They might love their mom with a lion-like ferocity or maybe they can plow through 5 science fiction novels in a week or they might just be plain old confused about a lot of shit. . .They are limitless. We are all complex. As Walt Whitman said in “Song of Myself,”
I am large, I contain multitudes.
I wish there were some exclamation points in there.
“Gimme the Loot” examines the friendship of a young man and woman who are a pair of graffiti artists. They embark on an adventure to seek revenge on a rival graffiti group from Queens (Argh! Queens!) that leads them all over the city of New York during the extent of a couple of days. The main characters are deeply developed and very real. The secondary characters also contain a depth, even if it’s only a shadow of depth, that complicates the racial stereotypes the initially embody. The dialogue was so real I felt like I was listening in on a couple of my students talking. And it was also funny, because, you know what? Life is funny. My students have always been the funniest people I know, and I know some hilarious folks.
What a relief to see the students I taught and continue to teach portrayed as whole people. Thank you “Gimme the Loot.”