The Truth of South Central
Throughout the 1992 film, “Boyz in the Hood,” John Singleton takes a closer look at urban black America in South Central Los Angeles. Doughboy, Ricky and Trey, along with their parents are chronicled from childhood to adulthood. Each person, though living in the same neighborhood chooses different paths in life. These characters were raised in a very deviant community, however there were many causes as to why they did not all become deviant. Deviance is defined as behavior that goes against what is socially acceptable. It is when a person disregards what is normal in a specific society and acts upon it. Throughout the movie these characters had many chances to engage in deviant behavior, as some did while others did not. Their behavior and personality was determined by many factors and theories which sociologist study. The four main theories which explain why these characters did or did not become deviant are differential association, labeling, social control, and structural strain theory. As this deviant society is exposed to these theories, a normal society can better understand why and how this deviance originated.
One of the most compelling theories of how deviance is instigated is the theory of differential association. Differential association is defined as behavior that is learned through the interaction of others. People pass these deviant behaviors onto others whom they have relations with. Throughout the film there are many instances in which deviant behavior is passed on to others through leading example. One instance comprises of the way Tre’ and his father Furious answer the phone. When Tre’ answers the phone he says, “Who dis?”(Singleton) His mother replies back. “This is your mother. That is no way to answer the phone. Let me speak to your father.” (Singleton) Furious answers the phone and says, “Who dis?”(Singleton) As tranquil as this scenario is, it is still considered deviant behavior as the way our society typically answers the phone is much more polite and mannerly. It is clear that trey acquired this deviance through example of Furious. Consequently this shows that Tre’ is heavily influenced through his father’s actions, words, and mannerisms. However, not always does Furious influence Trey in a negative, deviant way. In the beginning of the film when Furious and Trey were fishing, Furious said, “Any fool with a dick can make a baby. But only a true man can raise his children.”(Singleton) This idea stuck with Tre’ as he grew to be a man as he feared the idea of becoming a father. Although he did not respect women, he feared the result of having sexual relations, and becoming a father. Furious’s influence in this instance was a positive concept and led Tre’ away from the deviant idea of becoming a father as a teen. In South Central Los Angeles, violence was a constant and seen as completely normal in that society. When Tre’ was a boy walking home from school he saw a group of young men beating another black male screaming, “I’m going to fuck you up!”(Singleton) Tre’ walked past the scenario nonchalantly and acted as if nothing was wrong. This scenario was an everyday occurrence and Tre’ became numb to the fact that violence was oppressing society. Consequently he took the same role and acted in violence when he felt threatened. He was confronted in school by one of his classmates and the only way he knew how to react was through violence and struck his colleague with his fist. Society and the constant violence his friends portrayed caused Tre’ to become deviant and act in violence. This theory of differential association plays a vital role in describing how deviance originates.
Another significant theory of how deviance occurs is the labeling theory. The labeling theory is the idea that people begin to take on the roles in which others label them. A prime example is when Doughboy is talking to the woman on Crenshaw. The woman says, “Why is it whenever you refer to...
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