The movie Friday is a comedy, but it also depicts many important social issues. The story is set in the city of Los Angelos, California, in what could be called a high class ghetto. The main theme of the movie is about a young black man who looses his job and is influenced by his best friend to smoke marijuana. The movie also shows the relationships of his family and other members of his neighborhood.
With a zany cast of characters and a hilarious script this movie touches on everything from gang violence to the use of drugs, crime, guns, relationships, sex and life in the ghetto. Because of all these issues, I found this an interesting movie with a wide variety of topics to address.
Marijuana has been around for a long time. It’s use is once again becoming popular. Although it’s not legal, many people use it socially and for medicinal purposes. The Hollywood elite smoke it. Musicians such as Dr. Dre and the Black Crows celebrate it’s use. Television shows like Saturday Night Live and Kids In the Hall depict it as harmless fun.
Marijuana fashion has grown into a ten million dollar industry, with the seven branch marijuana leaf showing up on caps, T-shirts, earrings and tattoos. Studies show that after a decade of declining drug use, marijuana use has increased sharply among high school students and college students in the last two years (Duschbaun 8).
In the movie Friday, rap star Ice Cube plays the character Craig. Craig has never smoked marijuana. However, his best friend “Smokey” smokes marijuana everyday. Craig looses his job, leaving him home all day with nothing to do to occupy his time. He just hangs out in the neighborhood with his friends. Smokey tries to convince Craig to try some marijuana. At first Craig doesn’t want to. Smokey is persistent. He points out to Craig that he doesn’t have to work and doesn’t have anything better to . Craig and Smokey eventually sit on the front porch and get stoned. Peer pressure is obviously the only reason Craig gives in. Actually he had other options, but he chose not to use them. Common sense and a simple explanation would have worked for Craig just fine (How to Say No and Keep Your Friends 23) Everyday we are faced with choices. It is up to us to decide what’s right and wrong. Craig decides to try it and things start to happen that he really doesn’t like.
Craig and Smokey get into some trouble with the neighborhood dealer, Big Worm. Smokey sells pot for him, but can’t pay him the money he owes because he and Craig smoked the pot. Big Worm threatens them and sends a gang of “hoods” after them with machine guns. They just barely escape and are scared shitless. The amount of gang violence that can be contributed to the use and sale of illegal drugs has risen dramatically in the past seven years (Gates 67). It’s no wonder that this is happening with the use of marijuana becoming so popular again.
Violence and crime are issues we hear about every day. We can watch any news broadcast and see the evidence of these increasingly worrisome problems. In Friday, both of these issues are very apparent. Debone, the neighborhood thief and “bully” is constantly harassing the people in Craig’s neighborhood. He breaks into their homes, steals their possessions, beats people up to take their jewelry and other items and is just generally a pain in everyones ass. He is the most violent person in the movie
Craig gets into a fight with him and pulls a gun on Debone. Craig feels confused and not sure what to do. His father convinces him to give him the gun. He insists that Craig should fight like a man with his fists. I don’t think that was very good a choice. Debone was twice as big as Craig and probably 100 pounds heavier. They do fight and surprisingly Craig wins. You would think that most problems can be solved without violent acts. The reality is that sometimes, under certain circumstances, that just doesn’t work. Obviously, this was one of those times.
Sexual promiscuity was also depicted in this movie. Craig’s neighbor has an affair with a preacher. His sisters friend sleeps around to get drugs. Smokey puts the moves on anything in a skirt. To so blatantly condone this kind of behavior is repulsive. With the rampant spread of the Aids virus and other sexually transmitted diseases anyone with common sense would know better than to behave in this manner. Unwanted pregnancies and the abortion rate or serious issues that should also be considered.
Craig seemed to have a loving and supportive family. His dad was a real trip. His ideas about how to handle certain situations were a bit far-fetched, but he meant well. Because there was no indication of what age the kids in the movie were, it’s hard to comment on how the parents should have advised their kids. I do know that quite a few of the kids’ actions were questionable, even illegal. For example, if these kids were minors they would all be considered unruly. Unruliness is an offense that only a minor can commit (Fessler 105). All the kids in the movie were disobedient, smoked pot and acted in ways their parents should have been responsible to control. Both of Craig’s parents worked, which left the kids unsupervised the majority of the time. Some of the parents in the movie also set terrible examples for their kids. Smokey’s mom locked him out of the house so she could have sex with her male friends. She also got high and disregarded her parental responsibility to her kids.
Although the area where Craig and his friends lived didn’t look like what we might picture a ghetto to look like in our minds, it was still a ghetto. Poverty and other social issues make it what it is…….a very depressing and frustrating place to live. Because of all the negative ways of life including crime, violence, gangs, drugs and all the other things I’ve referred to in this paper, I would conclude this would not be the kind of lifestyle I would choose to live. Unfortunately, many of the people that live under these conditions don’t have a choice. They are most often born into these situations or faced with dealing with them because of financial struggle or lack of resources to change their ways of life. We can consider ourselves fortunatate to not have to deal with these kinds of problems on a daily basis. That is not to say that ALL people in the ghetto stay there. There are some who work hard and get the education or training they need to escape this kind of lifestyle. Where there’s will there’s a way and depending on how strongly they want out, it can happen.
All in all this movie was pretty entertaining. I wouldn’t suggest it for kids who might be influenced in a negative way by the things that happened or who are not mature enough to know the difference between right and wrong. The movie does portray negative issues as being acceptable. This could be harmful to young kids who are influenced by peer pressure and this kind of nonchalant attitude toward breaking the law. It is up to us to determine what is okay for our youth. Parents should determine if this would be acceptable for their kids to view.
Friday is an entertaining, yet morally questionable flick. The social issues it depicts are many. Viewing it also raised a lot of questions on how the movie industry doesn’t care what they produce. They are interested solely in making money. Their job is to entertain us. They have accomplished that with this movie. It made me laugh, but because of this assignment it made me realize that comedy was not the important part of seeing this movie. Realizing how people live and relate to each other is critical in understanding our society on the whole. Recognizing this is how we can begin to make positive changes to things that are wrong and improve our lives in general.