Saturday, November 7, 2009

Breakin Even

Growing up with a landscape of people as pale as the snow that capped the mountains that framed my State, I was oblivious to inner-city struggles, urban plight, and social welfare. “Gang” was just the four letter word that preceded “ly” when describing the boys in my town.

So when the single screen movie theatre – the only one in a twenty mile radius – showed Breakin’, we went in droves. Somehow I talked four different adults into taking me six times before it left town and was replaced by Karate Kid or Footloose or some other fish out of water story.

Rewatching it now with the wisdom of years, the experience of living near a big city, and the many gang articles seared into my brain, I’m as lost as I was then, just for different reasons. While I’m able to identify Adam as the flaming gay dancer friend – he just seemed unusually extravagant then – I’m unsure if gangs actually fought this way in the 80’s. Did they really dance it out, the best street corners going to the declared winner ala 8 Seconds? Or was Hollywood glossing over (or maybe oblivious to) the problem brewing right under their nose only a few miles away?

While the interracial relationships didn’t faze me – they’re just people of a slightly different color, albeit colors I hadn’t seen in person at the time – I now wonder if they were as easily accepted as the movie made them out to be. The only problem people seemed to have was “street” versus “trained” dancers. Maybe this was Hollywood’s way of slyly addressing the class differences in the hills and valleys of LaLa Land. Or maybe they just wanted to build that dance wagon everyone would soon jump on. If so, they were also early creators of the boy-girl-boy hero trio that’s still popular today (see Harry Potter).

Despite the movie not aging well (who the hell is Lucinda Dickey?), I was pleased to be able to identify Ice-T twenty five years later. He hasn’t aged a day. Now that’s some Hollywood magic.

1 comment:

  1. Lucinda Dickey was in the original, "Breakin", as Special K, the name one of the guys gave her. Ice-T, of course, took his name from the great pimp novelist Iceberg Slim, one of my favorite writers. And the inspiration for the gag in the movie "Fear of a Black Hat", which is very funny, where all of the rappers are introduced back stage at a hip hop concert: Ice Bag, Ice Box, Ice Cream, Ice Storm, Ice Tray, Ice Frog, ad infinitum