Extra Credit – Planet Rock

Watch the film below and write a 1-2 page reaction, review, and analysis.  Opportunities ends April 5 – 25 points


3 thoughts on “Extra Credit – Planet Rock

  1. I was intrigued by this video because it made me realize how uniformed I was about the history of crack and hip-hop music. Most kids in college today are too young to remember the beginning of hip-hop music, how it was created, and the stories behind the lyrics most people view as nothing more then music they listen to for entertainment purposes.
    As the video discusses, the early 1980’s was a hard time for inner-city communities, they were going through a recession that left many people without jobs. This was also around the same time that many kids began to sell crack, as a way to stay alive and be able to help feed their families. At this point the government would have been better off trying to help these communities, instead of going to war with them. Instead of viewing the people living in inner-city communities as horrible criminals, the government should have worked with them to create and improve their education system and work on providing jobs for them. In the end, this would have taken less time and money, and saved more lives, then waging a war against them.
    The part that most struck me about the war on drugs was the clip of the tanks plowing through these people’s neighborhoods and homes. Especially when the narrator said that Nancy Reagan rode shotgun in one of these attacks. I thought that was really wrong of her to do, and it makes it look like the government started the war for the sake of publicity, as well as, to publically undermine the people living in these societies.
    Next, I believe that the government continued to handle the situation wrong, when they passed the law for sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine. Because they are chemically the same thing, their punishment should be exactly the same. This disparity negatively affected the inner-city communities in a much more negative way then richer, predominantly white communities. With this law, the police departments could make tons of money from the government each time they convicted someone for using or selling crack.
    The video continued on to talk about how hip-hop was able to change the lives of many crack dealers from inner-city communities. I think it was a great thing that these people who suffered so much were able to get away from it all, tell their stories through music, and almost start new lives for themselves, but I also think there is stuff that wasn’t fully addressed in the video. For example, many people’s lives were being improved by the hip-hop industry, but it was by no means the majority of the population living in the inner-city communities. There were some lucky individuals that made their stories famous through music but there are so many more stories that will be unknown forever. I think it would have improved the depth of the video if it showed these other points of view.
    Overall, through the 80’s and 90’s, the United States prisons became full of African American’s charged with possession or sales of crack or other drugs. I believe that the government could have done a lot to prevent this from happening, and help solve a long-term problem, but instead they instigated the problem and then continued to make it worse.

  2. Despite being a documentary on the evolution of Hip-Hop as it pertained to the introduction of crack cocaine to the United States, “Planet Rock” really served as a vantage point through which the subconscious racism that permeates our country is made disgustingly evident. The presence of crack into the US drug market revealed the true power that media holds over society. Before the drugs had even spread throughout the continental US, the media had already created a “crack epidemic” that was associated exclusively with the black community. This mindset mirrors that of Kathryn Russell’s Criminalblackman that associates blackness with drugs, and in turn, blackness with crime.
    In light of all of this success, one almost forgets that while this is happening, thousands of inner city African-Americans were incarcerated on drug charges. The government was literally raging a war on drugs, and in the eyes of the American people, “drugs=blackness”. Through the use of broadcast media, an association was made between crack and the devil. Those who did crack immediately became lesser people and had to be dealt with. The self-serving nature of the bi-partisan parties in regard to how they developed the 100-1 disparity was absolutely appalling. In the midst of arguing over, which group, is tougher on drugs, they created a corrupt policy that directly targets minorities who are already being singled out by law enforcement.
    Those who pioneered Hip-Hop played the role of reporters, however unlike the stories spun by corporate networks they spoke of what they saw on the streets. By acting as the voice of the streets these emerging artists caught the attention of the general public who were naturally curious about this “epidemic”. The evolution of hip-hop is mind-boggling. In the beginning, rappers were explicitly referencing the “drug game”, wore chains, and paraded around with guns in order to further emulate the big-time dealers who were their inspiration and initial source of funding. This became an ingrained part of rap-culture. However, these roles shifted as artists began to grow in notoriety. Rappers began to branch out and started incorporating designer labels, creating their own merchandise, and establishing personas as socialites to replace that of drug runners.
    It was incredibly interesting to me how it was through this “black market” that Hip-Hop was born. I suppose that this makes the drug game a catch 22. Because no white label would ever have loaned the money and resources necessary to produce a track to an African-American male who in his spare time was slanging drugs on the street. The birth of hip-hop was one of symbiosis, dealers were able to invest their money in a market that is significantly less risky, and emerging artists were presented with not only a demographic willing to buy their music, but also had top-of-the-line resources at their disposal.

  3. After watching this film, I learned a lot about the hip hop culture and how crack came into this world and caused tremendous amount of damage. When Ronald Reagon became president in the 1980s and decided to higher income tax on the rich and lower the poors everything seemed to go downhill for the underclassmen. When America was changing and wouldn’t hire a lot of minorities, they had no choice but to sell crack because that was the only way to get good money. It was devastating to see and hear what people would do to survive in the streeets. Especially when crack was an addicting drug that once someone tried it, they wanted more. People didn’t care about the consequences and all they wanted was money. Crack turned out to be an epidemic and was on every page of the newspaper and television.
    When I saw how the government reacted to the situation, the way they tried handling it could of been different. When Reagon announces in 1982 the war on drugs, the way they destroyed peoples homes reminded me just how crack addictors would do anything for crack, the police would also do anything to have the dealers put in jail. Planting crack in the dealers car to arrest them and have them go to jail for decades was unethical. The dealers might have deserved to go to jail but not the way they were put in jail. Instead of the government building more jails, they should of built places where people can go for help. They didn’t see why the people were crack dealers to begin with. What disturbed me the most was how they focused on black neighborhoods when whites were doing just as much crack as the blacks. All you would see in the film was the police officers arresting African Americans who lived in the ghetto. When watching this, it makes me wonder what were the whites doing during the crack epidemic? Then when President Bush decides to inact The Anti Drug Abuse Act, the policy didnt seem right or fair.
    When hip hop came into the picture, rappers were known as the reporters telling their story and what they saw in the streets. Hip hop became popular music because people could relate to the artist. Most rappers known today were once crack dealers and some even spent lots of years in jail. Rappers knew the only way out was to become an artist and earn money a different way. They knew crack was a killing drug and how dangerous it was to survive against everyone because everyone was wanting the same thing, ‘crack.’ The hip hop culture were the vioces of the people in the street. They rapped about how crack was bad and they wanted to change the new generation, ‘crack is wack.’ Many people of color look up to those rappers that grew up just like them. Rappers keep rapping about fighting in the streets, crack dealers, shootings, and losing someone important in their lives because of crack/cocaine.
    I liked how towards the end of the film, new generations were begining to realize the impacts crack can do and want a different life. What Snoop Dog decided to do and coach a football little league was a great way to help kids follow the right path. I thought this film was very interesting that gave me a new perspective towards the hip hop culture. Hip hop was a great source that helped the problems with the war on drugs. They wanted to show that theres positive things out there that you can do and other alternatives.

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