Boyz N the Hood: Major Themes in John Singleton’s Film

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • The Theme of Temptation in Boyz N the Hood
  • Boyz N the Hood: Portrayal of Black Culture
  • The Reality of Black Youth in Boyz N the Hood
  • The Effects of Capitalism in Boyz N the Hood
  • Conclusion


Boyz N the Hood is a 1991 film of John Singleton which clearly and vividly captures the life of a black American teen living in South Los Angeles. From the film, it can be seen that the youth from the black culture can be changed and that they can do more good than harm, provided the family bond is kept alive through continuous encouragement. There are major themes that support this statement. The four major themes elevated in the film are the power of family and black culture in the ghettos, effects of capitalism to American citizens especially the Negros living in harsh environments, the power of temptation and more so juvenile and gang associated delinquencies that are usually influenced by peer and social pressure. This paper is going to deeply analyze the above-mentioned themes in as far as our country's economy and the socio-economic and political structural pillars are concerned.

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The Theme of Temptation in Boyz N the Hood

First, the film displays the major theme being the power of temptation and more so juvenile and gang associated delinquencies that are usually influenced by peer and social pressure. In real life, South Central Los Angeles is well known for its reputation in crime and gang-related violence, not forgetting the menace of drugs. From the film, almost 80% of the same displays how teenagers of black origin are involved in crime, drugs, and gang-related activities. All these happen through peer pressure from the fellow teenagers and from the environment in which one is living in. A good example of the film is when Ricky decides to join the street gang after being influenced by Doughboy to join them saying that "not joining us would be lame". This also was the same case with Tre who did not easily give in to the pressure from his colleagues and rather continues with his studies and later graduated becoming a changed man from the other teenagers. From this analogy in the movie, we can as well say that youth nowadays have perished in most streets due to the negative pressure inflicted on them by their peers. This way, they always want to find an easy way out through crime and another gang related violence. This makes a major percentage of black youth not finishing college and later remaining in the streets due to unemployment and with high rate of unemployment comes the high rates of crime and eventually the structural bones of forming a strong economic pillar will lack, leading to a negative effect on the economy (Chan et al., 1998 pp. 47-55).

Boyz N the Hood: Portrayal of Black Culture

The power of family and black culture in the ghettos is also important in every youth life as portrayed in the film. It can be seen from the film that the reason Tre turned out great was that he had a loving and caring family who encouraged him to do good and work hard in school. The opposite is actually true with the other black children who had no families to encourage them and guide them on the good things to do and the good ways to follow. Due to this reason, they ended up in crime and drugs, unlike Tre. This then shows how hard it is for any ordinary teenager living in the ghetto with continuous criminal and gang activities without any guidance from his or her family to do well in the future. Due to this, it, therefore, becomes really hard for a teenager living in these environments to pull out of the grip the community has on him or her. Due to this, he or she finds himself or herself in crime, drug abuse and even early unplanned pregnancy as seen in the film. Families should, therefore, al all time ensure that they encourage their children into doing well and also into influencing others to do well. This is the only way we are going to change our youth and the society at large (Massood et al., 1996 pp. 67-76).

The Reality of Black Youth in Boyz N the Hood

The power of temptation is also clearly seen in the film. Today, in our society, black youth undergoes different temptations as they grow up in the youth and depending on how they take these temptations, they might turn out great or end up miserable. From the film Tre is allured by sex, Doughboy, on the other hand, is provoked by money and power and Ricky is tempted by the fact that he wants to be a football player but he did not respect his education and later he joins the army using the funds for college. All these temptations had various impacts on the characters and in this case, negative effects. From this, it can be said that the ghetto is full of temptations especially a place where social and peer pressure is involved. Young youth in our communities nowadays have put themselves into drugs, sex, and crime temptations and after being provoked into joining the same, they end up miserable without any job to do, which leads to crime rates increasing since they usually try to find an easy way out. All these have ended up ruining the economy through the destruction of the structural pillar of a socio-economic pillar which yields the political pillar. Since the youth are not active, strong political leaders are lacked leading to a political crisis and the economy is the one to pay for all these consequences due to youth falling into temptations (Chan et al., 1998 pp. 35-48).

The Effects of Capitalism in Boyz N the Hood

Moreover, the effects of capitalism on the citizens especially the black Americans can be clearly seen in the film. From the film, most properties are owned by private owners like for example Tenino who owed almost half of the property in South Central LA. This ended up affecting the people living in the place who was the black community including Tre's family, Doughboy and Ricky's family. Widely speaking, therefore, it can be said that capitalism is never good for the economy since only individual people profit and not the state. When the state profits, the citizens get a fair share through devolution but when individual profits alone, he or she only takes all the revenue and the other part of the taxation to the government is not viable since it is a small amount. Young youth should be encouraged to discourage capitalism and ensure that state governments own major properties and all these could be achieved through education and encouragement from the families of the teenagers. This will then help boost the economy of the country (Massood et al., 1996, pp. 86-89).


In a nutshell, drawing the points of thought from the above analysis of the film, it can be clearly concluded that major black American youth growing up in the ghetto tend to not achieve their true potential due to the grip of the negative environment they are living in. To help them achieve their true potential and come out of the ghettos to be great people who will push out economy to the next level, they should, therefore, be encouraged from family grassroots and taught in the right ways of living no matter the type of environment they are living in. Youth can, therefore, be changed even if they are growing up in an environment that is full of gang and crime related incidences. Black youth can be changed easily provided the family touch and bond is always kept alive through positive encouragement.

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