Boyz N The Hood Movie Analysis
John Singleton produced the movie Boyz N The Hood in 1991 in the United States of America. The setting of this move is in an urban black neighborhood in South Central part of Los Angeles. It is based on the story of three boys who grew together in the same neighborhood. They are the main characters in the movie. Ricky and Dough are brothers but from different fathers. Their mother is raising them single-handedly. Apparently, a father figure is missing in their lives. Tre lives with his mother until he is ten years. He develops a deviant behavior that forces his mother to send him to his father. The parents of Tree were separated. The three teenagers are in the prime of their youths and they struggle with various issues as they grow up. Ricky is an outstanding athlete who aims to earn a football scholarship to these. His half-brother, Doughboy is a complete opposite. He is a drunkard and he associates himself with violence and criminal activities. Tre can be described as a normal teenager.
Social control theory
The plot of this movie is based on a number of theories. One of the major theories that are reinforced by the movie is the social control theory. According to this theory, learning and socialization lead to the developing of self-control. (Britt & Gottfredson 2003) It also reduces their tendency of an individual to engage in activities that are frowned upon by the society. This theory suggests that people engage in criminal activities when their bond to the society is weakened. Control theorists believe that conformity to the rules of the society is produced by socialization and maintained by ties of people and institutions when an individual experiences low levels of social connections, the probability of him or her engaging in crime increases. The theory argues that social networks prohibit people from engaging in criminal activities. As the social bond increases in strength, the costs of crime to the individual increases. This theory proposes that there exist four types of control which deter an individual from engaging in bad behavior
These four controls also motivate the individual to engage in positive behavior. First, there is direct control. In this case, punishment is melted upon wrong doings whereas the relatives, family members or the society at large rewards compliance. The second control is internal in nature. A youth is prompted to good deeds and shun evil by his or her conscience. The other control is indirect in nature. A youth under the influence of this control mechanism will strive to comply with the rules in order to avoid causing disappointment and harm to the parents and other people that he or she has a close relationship with. Finally, control of the behavior is pegged on needs and satisfaction. (Britt & Gottfredson 2003) If the individual’s needs are met, he or she will see no point in engaging in criminal activities. In summary, the social control theory is based on the belief that an individual’s values and morals lead to an environment that is lawful. Individuals who have these beliefs have a level of control and will rarely indulge in criminal activities. According to the social control theory, the lack of control in one emotion and desires leads to the committing of crimes.
The theory of social control can be used to explain the reasons that led to the three boys having different behaviors. Tre does not want to disappoint his parents who have invested heavily in him. He thus stays off from criminal activities to avoid disappointing his parents. Rickey is a focused student who knows what he wants in life. However, from the movie, it seems that the four types of control in behavior do not reign in Doughboy’s mind. He is relentless in committing crimes and in abusing drugs. In addition, the three friends grow in a poor urban neighborhood. They may have lacked some things due to financial constraints, which may have influenced Doughboy into committing crimes. The theory of social control is illustrated when both Tre and Doughboy want to take revenge on the gang that killed Doughson’s brother. Tres realizes that it is not can to kill the gang members who had killed Rickey. He thus gets out of the car and goes back to his father. However, Doughboy does not have social control. He does not care about the repercussions of his actions. He goes ahead and opens fire on the young men.
The second theory that influences behavior is known as the labeling theory. It is the theory of how self-identity and behaviors of individuals may be determined or influenced by the terms used to describe or classify them (Farrington & Murray 2014). According to this theory, crime is socially constructed. People do not engage in crime due to their social backgrounds. On the contrary, the socialization process causes crime. The theory hypothesizes that the labels applied to individuals influence their behavior particularly in the application of negative or stigmatizing labels. These negative labels promote deviant behavior. An individual who has been labeled has little choice but to conform to the essential meaning of the judgment. Consequently, the director postulates that it is possible to prevent social deviance through limited social shaming reactions. In the movies, the director postulates the theory through the characters; they have to make the right decisions in their life.
The labeling theory is applicable in the movie. The mother of Doughboy has labeled him as a ‘’good for nothing’ boy, She speaks lowly of him. The boy turns out to be what his mother always says of him. He becomes a criminal and engages in drug abuse. (Boyzn the hood 1991) His mother loves Rickey she speaks highly of him and has so much faith in his capabilities. She believes that Ricky will get her out of poverty. He attains high grades and passes his tests. The labeling and misinterpretation of the African Americans are illustrated by the movie. The African Americans are depicted as being violent and engaging in criminal activities although the youngsters in the movie have not shown distinct characteristics of being in a gang, they can be still perceived as one. In the shooting incident where Doughboy shows his gun to the gang, the audience misinterprets his actions. Doughboy is not a gangster but he is only using the gun to protect himself. The family plays an important role in the labeling process of the youth. Doughboy‘s father is depicted as being lazy and uninspired. Brenda also attributes laziness and lack of inspiration to her son Doughboy.
Another scene that has a clear manifestation of the labeling theory is Doughboy and Tre decide to take revenge on a rival gang that had murdered Rickey. Despite having planned it all when the time to do the act Tre does not proceed not because they were scared but because they choose to do the right thing. (Boyzn the hood 1991) Doughboy opts to continue with the heinous act, he is subject to victimization based on his action. Singleton argues that those born in the lower class of the society are the most prone to being labeled and have to strive to make better decisions. Doughboy is later to be found among the twenty-one African American men killed in the hands of another black man.
The labeling and misinterpretation do not stop with the characters in the movie. The movie itself has been misinterpreted and mislabeled. The movie is labeled as a gang movie. This is not a true reflection of the movie. The main characters are not gangsters but mostly victims of circumstance and a society that is skewed.
Conclusively, in his movie, Singleton is able to highlight societal problems of labeling and social control through the eyes of his characters and multiple themes in the movie “Boyz N the Hood.” Through the movie, social control and it benefits is manifested through Tre whose father controls and guides the young man. Through this, the young man is able to make the right decisions in future as opposed to his friend Doughboy. He is brought up without a father and his mother had already given up on him as a young man. He eventually falls into the cycle of gangs and violence and is killed by the community. From the movie, it is evident that harsh economic times capitalism, as well as the social influence, has a huge negative impact on the low class in the society and especially on the black American community.
Britt, Chester L., and Michael R. Gottfredson. Control theories of crime and delinquency. Transaction Publishers, 2003.
Farrington, David P., and Joseph Murray. Labeling theory: empirical tests. Transaction, 2014.
Singleton, John. Boyzn the hood.(1991) USA. Colombia pictures.
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