One of the most striking characters in the film is Ricky. Ricky is a football star and can go to nearly any school he wants to in the country on scholarship. Ricky symbolizes the beacon of hope in “the hood,” and embodies the idea of the American Dream. The idea is that if you work hard, stay out of trouble and do the right thing, the system will reward you. Things were looking that way for Ricky until a group of gang members shot him down in the middle of the street. It is important to note that Ricky’s fatal shot was to the back. Shooting or stabbing someone in the back is notoriously associated with betrayal and disgrace. I assert that this is symbolic of the betrayal of the American Dream against the black community. It is as though no matter what one does, the system is constantly dragging one down and the American Dream is exposed as a sham. Ricky’s brother, Doughboy, stands in stark contrast to Ricky. Doughboy is a gangbanger whose ambitions don’t exceed getting drunk and selling drugs. After Ricky’s death, Doughboy is set to avenge him and retaliate in a drive by shooting—yet another timely issue associated with the black community in the early 90’s. Drive by shootings are especially awful because they are inaccurate and have a tendency to hurt bystanders. Ultimately Doughboy goes through with the shooting and knows that he is next to be killed. By having Doughboy and Ricky suffer the same fate Singleton has even further discredited the American Dream. Both boys were from the same household, same neighborhood, same school, but one was destined for greatness, while the
other was destined for mediocrity at best. And yet, both the young men died at the hands of gang violence.
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- Fall '12
- American Dream, Gang, black community, John Singleton