Sunday, July 13, 2008
Dr. Boyce Watkins response to Lauren London's Thug Love
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Lauren London: You Really Don't Want a Thug
By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins: Black Speaker of the Year
OK Lauren, we need to talk. Yep, I’m talking to Ms. Lauren London, the beautiful young woman who starred in the movie ATL with TI, my favorite rapper. Besides our favorite artist, you and I have something else in common: Menace II Society was one of my favorite films. The movie came out when I was finishing college and I consider it one of the greatest films of all time. In fact, the Hughes brothers, who made the film, are among the best film makers in the business.
With that said, I noticed that in a recent interview with King Magazine, you mentioned that you really like thugs. Not just thuggish thugs, but hard-core, pee-in-ya-mama’s coffee cup, “I don’t give a *&^%” type thugs. I was intrigued by your comments:
“I love guys who are street. I won’t even give soft guys a chance. Menace II Society is my shit! Caine was like my first crush. Actually, O-Dog was my true dream guy. I was in love with him, from that opening scene where he pops the convenience-store worker. He had me from that gunshot [laughs]. He was ’hood, and I loved that.”
When I heard these words, I thought “Wow, this girl needs to have a few more relationships to realize how concerned we should be about these comments.”
OK Lauren, I don’t think you are crazy, stupid or a bad person. Fantasies are natural, and we all have some. I dream about a sexy woman with a PhD feeding me honey barbeque wings in big furry bunny slippers (don’t ask about the bunny slippers, that’s personal). But there is a difference between what you want, and what you NEED, and that is part of growing up.
You mentioned that Caine, the star gangster in Menace II Society, was not hard enough. You actually went for O-Dog, his over-the-top homeboy. O-Dog is likely one of the most maniacal, murderous and treacherous characters to ever grace the screen of a movie theatre. He was the kind of guy who would shoot first and ask questions later, or maybe just shoot first because you asked him a question. Tupac was originally slated for this role, likely because he did such a good job playing the lunatic “Bishop” in “Juice” another great film made a few years earlier. Like O-Dog, Bishop was known for being one thing….. “crazier than a m*therfu*ker” (excuse my French, but sometimes English can’t capture the essence of just how crazy a m*therfu*ker truly is).
As a college professor, I’ve seen other young women have similar fantasies. I recall hearing a young Black Pentecostal Apostolic graduate student mention how she “loves thugs so much….they are just so FORBIDDEN!” Years later, after several abusive, meaningless relationships, a few venereal diseases and about 6 restraining orders, she actually sees the virtue of giving nice guys a chance.
I respect the street and I know a lot of good brothers from the street. But even the good brothers from the street don’t consider men like O-Dog from Menace II Society to be great catches. In fact, they go the other way when O-Dog comes into the room. Many brothers could understand Caine, the conflicted young man choosing between good and evil. But if there was a devil and angel on Caine’s shoulder, O-Dog was the devil. Men like O-Dog almost always end up dead or in prison, and your mama always tells you not to go their house.
You see Lauren, men like O-Dog are not the guys who love you, respect you or remain faithful to you. They are the guys who show you a good time and then stalk you, kill you and kill your dog when the relationship is over. They are the men whose girlfriends are killed in the crossfire of a drive-by shooting. They are the men who don’t give a damn about themselves, so they sure as hell can’t give a damn about you. That is not the place to go for love, fun and certainly not for a meaningful relationship. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a little thug in your life, or a little street. But you always want to have a man with a little common sense, a little self-love and a little commitment to his future. That is what I hope you will share with other young women reading your article in King Magazine.
You, Beyonce and other women who sing Thug Righteous Fairytales are not the only ones who make this mistake. Far too many men go chasing the most beautiful, booty-licious woman they can find, leaving the nice girl behind. They then realize, the hard way, that the nice woman is the one who will be there for you and that beauty goes much deeper than the skin. Lauren, you are pretty enough to surely get any guy you want, but you must also realize that there is strength in kindness. A man who loves you and treats you with respect is just as strong as a thug who shoots men in the grocery store. You don’t want O-Dog, you want the man courageous and caring enough to PROTECT you from O-Dog. That’s the secret.
I had a friend in college who also liked dangerous men. After spending over a decade married to a man in the penitentiary, I am willing to bet that her perspective has changed. I hope you don’t have to experience a lifetime of pain to realize that O-Dog is not Prince Charming. The same thing goes for the women looking up to you.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and author of “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about College”. He does regular work in national media, including CNN, ESPN, CBS and NBC