American Pimp

Pimp culture in their words? The Hughes brothers, Allen and Albert (Dead Presidents, Menace II Society), set out in American Pimp to portray pimp life and experiences through pimps themselves. The movie is a fascinating look into a world few people encounter (or admit to encountering). It is outrageously funny and frightening at the same time. The narrators are all purported pimps, with colorful names like Payroll, Charm, Gorgeous Dre, Fillmore Slim, Sir Captain, and even Bishop Don Magic Juan.

American Pimp opens with white people telling the camera what they believe pimps are. Interspersed within the documentary are clips from shows like SNL and Jerry Springer, and blaxploitaion movies from the seventies like Foxy Brown, The Mack, and Willie Dynamite. Essentially, the Hughes brothers are trying to show that pimps do not necessarily fit many of the stereotypes.The pimps interviewed are a highly interesting and eclectic group of people. Some seem very well educated and speak carefully and eloquently, others pepper with conversation with "motherfucker" every couple seconds. Some speculate that pimps arose after the Civil War, when blacks discovered that other avenues to making money were closed.

The Hughes brothers wisely interview pimps from all over the country, from Hawaii to Washington, DC. The comedy comes from the gaudiness. How on earth can some of these people honestly believe they are "cool?" Just look at the picture above and to the left. One pimp (filmed at the Players Ball, an annual pimp convention) wears a ring that is at least half a foot long. Most bask in their lucrative trades with custom made suits, expensive cars, and alligator skinned shoes. K-Red, a pimp in Washington, DC, takes two hours to dress every morning. Some of the pimps bask in their excess, while others look homeless. They all are extremely self-confident and have no trouble bragging about themselves and their exploits. Other words like "ho" and "bitch" are terms of endearment to them and their prostitutes, and also fly fast and furious across the screen.

Amazingly, pimps have a pseudo code of honor. All of the pimps in American Pimp frown upon the common stereotype. They do not give drugs to their prostitutes, since that would mean taking money away from themselves. This brings forth the frightening aspects of American Pimp. Their attitude towards and treatment of women is disgusting. These pimps do not think of their prostitutes as women, but as property. They take all the money, and provide food, shelter, clothing, and medical bills. They are there to bail their prostitutes out of jail. It may seem benevolent, but it is merely a way to ensure their property is safe. In an ironic turn, the pimps, whose origins may have come from slavery, are now slave masters. Their only loyalty is towards money. They train their prostitutes to become masters at manipulating men, and in turn, the pimps must manage to manipulate the prostitutes.

American Pimp does look at other views. Interviews with some of the prostitutes show them as pragmatic and almost resigned to their pimps. The Hughes brothers also interview the owner of a Nevada brothel. He is the only white pimp, and the only one working within the bounds of the law. The other pimps decry this double standard, and surprisingly, the brothel owner does also. American Pimp is not a documentary that debates the rights or wrongs of a certain event or action. Prostitution in the movie is a given. Rather, the Hughes brothers set out to present this warped world in a manner that is palatable for ordinary people, but still leaves a bad taste in their mouths.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 26 minutes, Not Rated but language, drug content, and some nudity, would probably be an R.

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