Ghetto Physics: Will the Real Pimps and Hos Please Stand Up!
directed by William Arntz and E. Raymond Brown
starring E. Raymond Brown
Ghetto Physics Entertainment / Captured Light Industries
This movie impressed me before I even saw the disc. About two days after I requested it, an overnight letter appeared with the DVD. Inside was a postpaid return envelope and nothing else. No nasty warnings about copyright, no threats that if this got online Western civilization would crash — just a discrete acknowledgment about how they wanted the disc handled post-use. Not sure what to expect, I watched it immediately and was blown away. Part politics, part cultural anthropology, careening between agitprop, propaganda, and evangelization, this disc is the one clear, coherent civics class you’ll never get in school. Why won’t The Man tell you this stuff? Let’s let Arntz and Brown talk about what they call Ghetto Physics:
Just as the physical world is built up from protons and neutrons and gravity, the social world is built from Pimps and Hos and The Game. A Pimp is anyone in power who can get others to do their bidding, particularly by making the Ho thinks they are doing it because they want to. Hos, on the other hand, do all the work, take all the abuse and in return they get their percentage, which, under ideal conditions, is 0%. Most of the time it’s a little less due to taxes and handling fees. Pimps come in many guises — leaders, presidents, churches, advertisers, even sports teams. “Sports teams?” Look who pays for shiny new stadiums and arenas. It ain’t Kobe Bryant or Richard De Vos. In this transaction, the Hos are whoever pays the taxes to pay off the bonds. That’s what the Hos do — they work, consume, pay taxes, walk the street looking for work, and are the ultimate archetypical victims.
Brown leads a class of 30-something graduates and mixes his story with interviews and animations. He carefully lays out a model for how the world really functions, and if you pay attention you can see exactly where you fit in. Of course, most people have a little Pimp and a bunch of Ho in them, but until someone points it out, you’re been trained to be oblivious and happily sign up for credit cards, buy fizzy sugar water, cheer for your favorite team, or buy into an ideal that gets your butt shot out from under you.
What’s a poor Ho to do? Here’s where Brown pays off. There are options and opportunities open to everyone, they just need to see them. In the film, one of his promising students gets shafted out of a law school scholarship. She’s devastated and drops into the victim mode: “I’m destroyed! The MAN did it to me! It’s unfair!” In his role as the loving professor, Brown bitchslaps her and points out there are other options besides law school for a good student, and by the time the credits roll we see she has found a multitude of opportunities.
Along the way we see interviews with rappers, writers, physicists, bankers, philosophers, and artists. Ice T is especially ironic. After all his run-ins with the police, he now plays a cop on TV. He clearly understands the game and works it to his benefit. It’s what might pass for the moral here: Figure out the game and work it to you own benefit, or suffer the consequences. This results in a world of just Pimps and no Hos, and then as Brown admits along the way, it’s the Hos that get stuff done. While you may not accept all the politics in Ghetto Physics, it’s a thought-provoking and serious attempt to do some social good by pointing out the obvious. This film may be doomed to the film fest circuit, but Arntz and Brown are ten times better storytellers than Michael Moore will ever be. These guys build a case, make you want to hear it, and deliver on results. Yes, they are pimping you, but in a benevolent way. They deserve a listen.
Ghetto Physics: ghettophysics.com