Even 20 years later, the first minute of Boyz n the Hood, the near-iconic movie about young black men struggling to survive the concrete jungle of South Central Los Angeles, can be a jarring experience.
There are no pictures, just sounds and words thrust onto a pitch black screen that are symbolic of the bleakness that pervades the movie. Expletive-laden crosstalk is followed by the staccato of gunfire. White-lettered words float ethereally across the screen, offering grim reminders of how many young black men — even in the year 2011 — often meet their sad demise: at the hands of other young black men. The voice of a young boy moaning about the loss of his brother provides a stark set-up for the remainder of Boyz n the Hood, which turns into an emotion-packed, bullet-riddled ride that doubles as a chilling cautionary tale.