YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

The Missed Chance Called 'Poetic Justice'

August 21, 1993

I have just finished praying, asking God for strength, guidance, clarity and substance, that I may convey to John Singleton from the depths of my heart and the spirit of my convictions how deeply disturbed and sadly repulsed I am since seeing "Poetic Justice."

I am vehemently appalled and find his depictions of the black female dehumanizing, tasteless, callous, oppressive, exploitable and disappointing. In scene after scene, the black female is portrayed as a sex object or incorrigible: truculent, promiscuous, insensitive, vulgar, unscrupulous, foul-mouthed, self-destructive, low-class and--with no stretch of the imagination--portrayed as a harlot.

The black male finds his kinship to the black female just as harrowing in this film. The stereotypes gain credibility and legitimacy based on Singleton's portrayals. The language in "Poetic Justice" is offensive and an affront to the intellect.

In the aftermath of the Rodney G. King verdict and the April 29, 1992, uprising in Los Angeles, I had high hopes that "Poetic Justice" would take us to higher ground and be a bridge that narrowed the gulf and facilitated a healthier image and dialogue.

The tragedy of his film is that it falls short of positive mentors, dignity, strength, hope and substance. "Poetic Justice" is overwrought with sickness. This film does nothing for race diplomacy but causes further polarization.

I pray that Singleton will be more conscientious, better prepared, that the spirit of his freedom-fighting, God-loving ancestors and the wisdom and strength of our experiences from motherland Africa to America will guide his future endeavors.



Los Angeles Times Articles