August 18, 2015

According to one former NYC cop, “€œgang intelligence units are receiving solid actionable intelligence that Bloods gang members will target theaters in certain areas because of pro-Crip content in the film.”€

An African-American pastor and “€œcivil rights leader”€ predicted that “€œthe movie will attract a lot of angry young blacks looking for trouble.”€

But Straight Outta Compton just logged an impressive $56 million weekend box office take, and as of this writing, I can”€™t find reports of even a single violent incident, not even at WorldStarHipHop. More people have been shot up at Trainwreck.

It’s all very Y2K, but Universal’s instincts weren”€™t entirely off. As far back as The Birth of a Nation, blacks have been acting crazy in movie theaters. Chris Rock’s latter-day disavowal of his “€œBlacks vs. Niggers”€ routine aside, they joke about it themselves“€”watch “€œBrenda at the movies”€”€”and study the phenomenon in academia.

Sure, white people slashed a few seats during Rock Around the Clock, and there are (possibly apocryphal) anecdotes of rubes firing back at the gunman in The Great Train Robbery. But the near-liturgical behavior at The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the exact opposite of what goes on every night in America’s “€œghetto”€ movie theaters.

(And even Canada’s “€œnormal”€ ones: My otherwise sublime experience of taking in Ed Wood for the first time was ruined by the black kid behind me screaming, “€œWhat the FUCK is this SHIT?!”€ when Johnny Depp put on the angora sweater.)

I suspect Universal’s shockingly un-PC “€œprivate security”€ ploy was actually an ultra-ballsy bit of old-fashioned ballyhoo, the likes of which we haven”€™t seen since William Castle’s 1950s gimmicks: “€œnurses”€ and ambulances standing by at every theater to treat cases of “€œfright”€ and such.

Given the proven results, can we get all the studios to make a similar pledge for every movie from now on? They”€™ve been trying to get (white) people back in theaters for years. The guarantee of a peaceful two hours in the dark might just do it.


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