The box-office success of American Gangster is not being celebrated by most African-American newspaper columnists. The online Journal-isms column by Richard Prince has compiled comments from a variety of black writers who have lashed out at the movie for exalting former drug lord Frank Lucas. Elmer Smith in the Philadelphia Daily News commented that it lifted "lowlife to new heights for a generation that doesn't remember or even care who they really were." Betty Bayé wrote in the Louisville Courier-Journal that she had talked to a friend, a former New York school teacher, who told her "Frank Lucas is the devil ... and some knuckleheads are going to go out and see that movie and think that they want to be just like him." Prince's column also quoted at length from a column in the New York Daily News by Stanley Crouch, who compared the movie with a documentary shown on BET. In the film, Crouch noted, "Frank Lucas has been given qualities that he simply did not have. We see him played as a soft-spoken and sophisticated man who closely studies the written word and only explodes into violence every now and then. In actuality, as the BET documentary reveals, Lucas was illiterate. ... He not only killed people to impress his ruthlessness on the underworld, but even put out a murder contract on one of his own brothers, whom he had brought from North Carolina to work in the drug trade with him. Lucas squashed the contract only because another brother had been killed and the drug lord did not want his mother to have to mourn for two dead sons at the same time. Always a family man. That such icy qualities are not in the movie makes it a highly crafted piece of poisonous eye candy."




13/11/2007