I know that two blogs about documentaries in a 7-day period might be a little heavy for some of you, but in the wider scope of things this is way more important than any other topic I could have chosen to write about today. With the way ignorance is currently plaguing hip hop, which is a culture that once prided itself on the fundamentals of knowledge, it canâ€™t hurt to shed some light on something that has the potential to spread a little bit of positive growth.
Up to this point, Iâ€™m fairly sure that not too many of you are familiar with the name Cle â€œBoneâ€ Sloan, although Iâ€™m sure quite a few of you caught him in Antoine Fuquaâ€™s Training Day, where he plays one of the Bloods who refuses to do Alonzoâ€™s (Denzel Washington) dirty work in one of the filmâ€™s final scenes. But with Bastards Of The Party, Sloan- with the help of Fuqua, who serves as producer - is making a name for himself as a director and narrator by presenting us with one of the most in-depth, personal, and historically rich accounts of gang culture that has ever hit the screen.
Sloan, who was an Athens Park Blood himself, set out to learn the history behind the culture of violence that he had adopted as his own and in doing so, decided to lay out his findings on film. For a first-time director, Cle Sloan does an incredible job of laying out a decade-by decade timeline of how the Bloods and Crips came to be what they are today. While the history is far too vast to capture every incident that ever took place, Cle does an amazing job of prioritizing, and laying out some of the major events that played a role in the evolution- or de-evolution -of Los Angeles gangs. He also provides some harrowing interviews from past and present-day Bloods and Crips, as well as some amazing archival footage.
But one of the main points of the film- and the theory from which Sloan derived the documentaryâ€™s title -is that the birth of the Bloods and Crips was a direct result of the disbanding of the Black Panther Party. And as far-fetched of an idea as this might sound to some of you, the evidence overwhelmingly supports this claim. (And although the film doesn't cover it at all, the same theory applies to modern-day gangs in Chicago.)
With hip hop idolizing gang lifestyle the way that it does- especially West Coast hip hop -I canâ€™t stress how important this film is for people to watch, especially since a good portion of dudes out there banginâ€™ probably donâ€™t know shit about the history of the sets they bang. Thereâ€™s no way that my words could possibly do this film the justice that it deserves; Bastards is easily one of the most mesmerizing, frightening and eye-opening documentaries Iâ€™ve ever seen; yet one canâ€™t help but feel sad that things have gone this far and gotten this out-of-control. If there will ever be a piece of media thatâ€™s accessible enough to make it painfully clear that gangbanging is, in its purest essence, total bullshit, than this is it.
I know the old adage that â€œKnowledge is Powerâ€ is a little cliched, so look at it this way: the less you know, the easier it is for people with knowledge to take advantage of you. Being apathetic to the point that you donâ€™t know shit about your history, your current events or your future is dangerous, but itâ€™s scary how the majority of the youth today is ignoring that fact.
Bastards Of The Party airs Wednesday night on HBO. Youâ€™ll have to check your local listings for exact times, but if thereâ€™s one thing you watch on cable this year, I would highly recommend making this a priority. For any of you that have had the chance to watch this since its debut on February 6th, let me know your thoughts on it.
In the meantime, hereâ€™s a trailer for the film: