Prostitution may be the world's oldest profession, but now, apparently, it's also an honorable one -- at least in the eyes of the pushers of pop culture, who have discovered its rebellious charm.
One of the films embraced this year by enlightened Oscar voters and film critics was "Hustle and Flow," an MTV Films production centering on an abusive Memphis pimp struggling to make it big as a rap artist. The guardians of the culture have touted this movie as an inspirational story of an American underdog struggling to live his dream, and ultimately, and perhaps poetically, succeeding while imprisoned.
You can crumble and toss this script if reality is what you're after. Here's reality: Rappers often don't "emerge" from thug life to star status. They attain stardom without really changing their thuggishness a bit. Pimping is a common theme of rappers, and the rapper Snoop Dogg even won an "adult film" award for his 2002 porn tape "Snoop Dogg's Hustlaz: Diary of a Pimp." But it shouldn't be said that such a man would be trying to live a "better" life, just a richer one. Going from pimp to pimp-rapper is a very lateral move on the moral scale.
When Oscar Night was over, the biggest impression the awards show left was its glowing tribute to one "Hustle and Flow" rap song. The Oscar winner for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," a filthy rap "song" written by the group Three 6 Mafia.
The "Mafia" crew performed an edited-for-television version of the song, with the lyric about the B-word talking the S-word replaced by the phrase "witches jumping ship." The relatively clean version was a bit of a surprise, since Oscar show producer Gil Cates originally said the B-words and "ho's" were acceptable since they're already heard on network TV.
The obscenity came later when the "Mafia" won an Oscar, and stormed the stage with a rowdy, once-bleeped acceptance speech, which also included a perfunctory shout-out to Jesus Christ, who, I'm sure, was pleased as punch with the pimp song.
The song whines that it's hard for a pimp to get his rent money when his prostitutes aren't reliable moneymakers. The female singer chiming in over the rapper in the film is a pregnant prostitute, too pregnant to turn tricks, and she tearfully states singing on her pimp's demo tape has made her sad life worthwhile.