American Pimp (The Hughes Brothers, 1999)
[originally posted 28Mar2001]
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that stereotypes are wrong, and that the truth is always far more complex than many would have us believe. Allen and Albert Hughes, disaffected with the red tape and mechanics of Hollywood after their first two fantastic films (Menace II Society and Dead Presidents), set out to make an independent documentary that shed a little more light on the pimp than the stereotypical evil man in a thousand-dollar suit injecting his stable of whores with heroin every few hours to keep them pliant.
They do a credible job, for the most part. The Hughes Brothers themselves are never part of the film, except for a chuckle here or a sotto voce question there, preferring to let the pimps, and a prostitute here and there, tell the stories themselves. It becomes quickly obvious that both pimps and prostitutes are sharp, interesting characters. They belie some of the stereotypes, while reinforcing others. But most important, they come off as human.
Ultimately, the film runs ten to fifteen minutes too long, but it’s well-enough put together that the error is forgivable. A viewing of this might make the average American rethink his views on the sex industry in America today. ***