Time is limited. Our days on this Earth are numbered.
Still I manage to find ways to waste time.
Avoiding. What is it that I’m avoiding? What am I so afraid of? And why is it I’m so afraid to let go?
I’m only creating more pain for myself which is the very thing I seek to avoid.
You’ve offended me. You’ve slighted me. The only thing is that it’s the perspective I choose to take that really affects me. See you haven’t actually done anything to me. It’s only the additional weight that I heap on myself. A burden all too burdensome.
So I seek ways to come to the truth. And reflect on the unchangeable in every situation so that I may become a better person.
You talk down on me well let me show you I’m not someone you want to underestimate.
I will make you feel like a fool and then satisfaction will be mine. How dare you come against me in such a way.
Still after all my efforts I’m left with nothing. Shells washing up on shore and then being carried away by the very ocean that brought them. I gain absolutely nothing.
Give up control. Give it. You are not a judge nor a ruler. Just someone playing the game, that is. And as a player you don’t get to set the rules. So play the best way you can. Figure out how best to play so that you can one day make it out.
We’re all playing the game at our current level. Some are stuck on the first stage and that’s okay. Because if it is meant to be, we will all see the end.
The film Menace II Society takes place in the city of Watts during the 1990s. The riots are over, drugs have made their way into neighborhoods and now gangs and violence wreak havoc in the streets. It’s the perfect portrayal of the American nightmare. A haunting tale about the cycles of poverty and violence that grip neighborhoods all across America. This movie is still relevant today, covering major issues in the urban black community which are explored throughout.
The opening scene gets right to the nitty gritty when O-Dog and Caine walk into a store hoping to buy beer and end up involved in a crime scene.
Such seems to be the life of poor Caine who from a young age saw death and corruption around him. His father was a drug dealer and his mother was a drug addict. Needless to say they didn’t play a very active role in his life. He’s sent to live with his religious grandparents, who just can’t seem to get through to him. His grandfather even asking him if he cares whether he lives or dies. Caine is deep in the streets. Has been ever since he came out on that stoop when he was young and got initiated by Pernell.
Pernell brought him up on the G code but was absent in his life when he got sent to prison.
Caine manages to graduate high school. An extraordinary feat for someone like him. Everything seems rosy for a while but as others would be knee deep in books, Caine is getting knee deep in the streets. He gets involved in a cycle of hatred and violence so hopeless and never ending. Violence being a common theme in the movie portrayed in a gruesome, raw, and unfiltered way. Caine and his comrades are desensitized to violence. As a result they have no problem taking a life or parading around a stolen tape of a murder they were involved in.
I just knew I could kill somebody. If I had to I could do it again. – Caine
This is the environment that Caine is growing up in. After going to a house party, him and his cousin have an altercation that lands him in the hospital and his cousin dead. Caine is lucky to be alive. This isn’t the first time he ends up in the hospital either. The difference this time is that he came close to dying. You would think Caine would turn over a new leaf after coming so close to death. Still, he can be seen watching old gangster movies in the hospital room. One of many foreshadowings in the film.
Another one being when later in the movie, the son of Caine’s love interest, Anthony, asks if Caine is going to die.
Caine even ends up in jail albeit for a short period of time. This still isn’t enough to set him on the straight and narrow. They bring him in for questioning. In the interrogation room we can see two types of light coming through the windows. On one side there’s red. Which could easily signify peril, doom, fatality and on the other, a brighter more lighter shade. Caine is at a crossroads for most of his life.
There are many voices of reason throughout the movie. Sharif, one of his closest buddies is a converted muslim and very pro-black. He doesn’t want Caine to go down the wrong path. And although he’s different from Caine and the rest of them, he’s kept throughout the movie. Caine even narrates as someone who sounds like they are reflecting on their choices. There are subliminal messages throughout the movie as well.
Another voice of reason is Ronnie or Pernell’s girlfriend. Ronnie sobered up after having Anthony. The connection between Caine and Ronnie is more than Pernell however. There’s love interest brewing here too. Caine gets even more-so attached via her son Anthony who is exactly like him when he was younger. Anthony is meant to symbolize Caine in a lot of ways. We even see things come full circle when Anthony comes out on the porch to hang with the grown folks much like Caine when he was younger.
No father, growing up in the hood without a role model. In the movie Caine is being asked to step up and be a man, if not for Anthony then for himself.
This movie’s core theme seems to be cycles in the urban communities. Caine is just being the way he was brought up to be and Anthony is mirroring what’s in the environment around him. There’s a certain street code you follow and that often leads to more violence. Caine is provided with an out on various occasions. Eventually he accepts to go away with Ronnie to Atlanta although reluctantly only to end up another victim. In a tragic irony, he does leave the life but not in the way we had hoped. Sharif is shot dead as well as Caine. Leaving O-Dog to grapple with the reality and possibly continue the cycle of violence.
The theme comes full circle with this quote as Caine narrates:
I guess in the end it catches up to you. My grandfather asked me one time if I care whether I live or die. Yeah I do and now it’s too late.
The final words at the end convict the viewer and cause them to reflect on all the past events that led to this young man’s fatal demise. It seemed like he was doomed to repeat his mistakes or suffer the consequences for his actions from the very beginning.