by Corey Hall
From the makers of the profoundly strange metaphysical polemic What the Bleep Do We Know? comes this pseudo-doc, perhaps more focused and thematically clear than its rambling predecessor, but equally bizarre. Where else in the history of cinema will you see Adolf Hitler's fiery, hate-fueled invective translated into rap lyric hood-speak, and the infamous Nazi sieg heil salute depicted as an exaggerated bitch slap? Nowhere, because, quite frankly, the above sequence is patently ridiculous and borderline insane — yet, here it is, presented with helpfully cheerful cartoon inserts, as if the most obvious interpretation of the Third Reich is that Hitler was a pimp and the Jews, and the German people who blindly followed him into Armageddon, well, they were hoes.
Offensive? Yes. Effective? Maybe. ...
This is the essential thesis of E. Raymond Brown, that all human power dynamics, from street-level crime to multinational diplomacy can be boiled down into the zingy metaphor of a street hustle, as seen in '70's exploitation classics such as The Mack and Superfly. Those with the power are pimps, who extract loyalty and obedience from the downtrodden, not just with raw force, but with trickery and coercion. Now, if only Dick Cheney had a penchant for fur coats and gold canes.
An unlikely assortment of talking heads appear to expand on the central theme, from academic Cornel West to rappers such as Ice-T and the ever-eloquent KRS-1 to, oddly enough, politically conscious sitcom mogul Norman Lear. The interviews are all wrapped around amateurish fiction footage of Brown teaching a college class — his incredible, earth-shattering theory, all of their young minds slowly being blown by the implication that they've been duped by the powers that be for so long. The prof also takes his case to a pair of comely TV interviewers, one of whom asks him some tough questions in broken English, to which he totally flips out and berates her before calmly sitting back down to finish the spot. You've seen better acting on cable public access.
The crudeness of the storytelling undercuts the authority of the message, which has some real nuggets of truth buried inside a cluster of overheated gobbledygook. As goofy as it is, Ghettophysics might make a decent baby step for someone not familiar with more nuanced takes on social justice, and as the great philosopher George Clinton, who said, "Free your Mind and your ass will follow."
Opens Friday, Oct. 8, at AMC Star Fairlane 21, 18900 Michigan Ave., Dearborn, and AMC Star Southfield 20, 25333 W. 12 Mile Rd., Southfield. For info, call 888-262-4386.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.