Hood TV 

In the new ghetto documentaries, thugs show off their guns, drugs, and cash. But cops and other thugs are watching.

Hood 2 Hood: The Blockumentary begins with footage typical of a Bay Area rap video. A kid with gold teeth points to a rival's graffiti on the wall of a Hunters Point housing project. A Mustang 5.0 screeches through a donut. Somebody lights a blunt. But three minutes in, the ride abruptly turns rougher. A young man covering his head with a T-shirt, bandito-style, puts his face so close to the camera that it rattles when he barks, "I'm gonna show you niggas how we get down."

Walking briskly around the corner of an apartment building, he comes to a grassy area. Then he reaches into an underground utility box and pulls out what appears to be a TEC-9 submachine gun, clip inserted. He points the barrel at the camera and shakes it to mimic the firing action. The lens and the muzzle opening align perfectly for an instant and the viewer stares into darkness.

"Slide through if you want, nigga," the young man taunts, warning would-be visitors to his block.

The cameraman pursues on foot, asking, "Hey man, what is that? What kind of gun is that?"

"Don't even worry about it, nigga," the young man says as he waves the weapon menacingly and steps behind a bush. "Don't even worry about it."

The next scene shows a man grin as he stashes a pistol in one of the trees alongside a street. In another, a kid in matching red-and-white Timberland shirt and Jordans pulls two brick-sized stacks of cash out of his pockets, telling the camera, "We out here eatin', my nigga" -- putting food on the table, and then some. Cut to the front of the SFPD's Hunters Point substation. A different kid with gold teeth explains the bullet holes lining the doorjamb. "They tried to move in, hold the young thugs down, but niggas came through, whoppin' at they ass. They weren't feeling them .223s." .223 is the caliber of military-issue assault rifles such as the AK-47.

In yet another startling segment, two belligerent women use wooden boards to batter a man trapped in the passenger seat of a car. As the man parries with a board of his own, the filmmaker thrusts the camera into his face and asks, "Got any word for us, man?"

"I didn't do that shit," the man cries, blood flowing under his nose. "That's my daughter. I didn't rape my damn daughter. I didn't even touch my daughter."

"Open the door, blood, so I can get some good footage," the cameraman yells. The implication, accepted tacitly by the crowd gathering to watch both the melee and the filming, is that if there's going to be 'hood justice, there might as well be 'hood Court TV.

Hood 2 Hood is a five-hour recon mission into the worst ghettos in America, a bulletproof window into the poverty, violence, bravado, economics, and pride that define life there. It's a bit like COPS without the cops, or Menace II Society without the script or actors. Call it Lifestyles of the 'Hood Rich and Infamous.

Skinny teenagers pull up T-shirts to show off gunshot wounds, some with bullets still embedded. Crack and heroin users make buys on street corners, oblivious to the camera. Residents of high-rise East Coast projects tell of people being thrown off top floors. And thug after thug relates sad stories of missing parents, enemy gangs, crooked cops, prison bids, lost fortunes, shoot-outs, and RIP T-shirts.

The DVD's minimal narrative thread is provided by a road movie structure. At the start of each chapter, a computer-generated van drives across a map of the United States and stops at one of 27 different locales, including eleven on last year's list of the 25 most dangerous US cities. The ride starts in San Francisco and heads east through Oakland, Richmond, Vallejo, and Sacramento, before looping through the Midwest, north to New York City, south through New Orleans, and back out to Los Angeles. By the time the van returns to the Bay, the audience has witnessed at least a dozen garden-variety inner city felonies, often with the perpetrators' faces in full view.


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