Above the Rim Film and Soundtrack Analysis Essay

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Vanderbilt University
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Above the Rim, is an American film co-written and directed by Jeff Polack. Above the Rim is a black American film-based movie that displays various characters including Tupac Shakur, Duane Martin, Marlon Wayans, and Leon Robinson. The film is based on American sports as the baseline theme and shows the relationship between a white New York student star in basketball with a black drug dealer and another sporting star. Watson, a basketball star finds himself at crossroads having to choose whether to follow his basketball coach or a local thug who deals in drugs in the neighborhood. Above the Rim film is replete with themes of racial and cultural influence, drug and violence and financial ambition and materialism.

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In Above the Rim, Kyle is a white basketball player motivated to use his talent to get a scholarship for the Georgetown University. Evidently, his display of sporting prowess is for not only passion but also a way he intends to use for financial benefits in the form of a scholarship. Surprisingly, the coach relegates all other people who may also have the potential to play basketball exemplarily and focuses only on Kyle (Donalson 95). Above the Rim loathes the abilities of the black Americans while at the same time exposes some f their social shortfalls. For instance, the film appreciates Shep and Kyle as better than the other young black men because they are committed to the rules of determined self-interest and respect of the authority. They use this tactic as a way of getting the limited opportunities available. For instance, Kyle gets a scholarship to his desired Georgetown University.

Birdie is also inspired to lure Kyle to play in his tournament in a neighborhood club with the intention that his win in the court would validate the illicit business of drugs thus financial gains. In essence, Birdie wishes to seek an affiliation with Kyle his win on the basketball court would vindicate the business activities that he performs (Donalson 96). In addition, Birdie (Tupac Shakur) who is an African American is portrayed as a drug smuggler with whom the coach wishes to prevent Kyle from having any form of association. Above the Rim adds to the dualism of black identity that was common within the then American society by introducing Shep (Birdies brother) who helps Kyle to peruse a path of self-reliance.

The film is not in any sense mundane to the fact that Birdie is a binge drug dealer. However, it also loathes him from a materialistic point of view. For instance, the film initially presents him as a charismatic and opulent man (McLaughlin 124). Birdie is portrayed to have new clothes, expensive vehicles, a nightclub, and associates with the attractive women. Therefore, Birdie is shown as successful from a materialistic lens though his dealing in drugs undermines any perception of success.

Above the Rim also advances the theme of violence by recounting Birdies violent past from which he got a scar on the cheeks. In fact, Birdie is a sadistic killer and gangster who slice up a homeless man for disrespecting him. Nonetheless, the film gives Birdies violence a vindictive gist by making disrespect as a reason for his altercations with the homeless man. He is sometimes portrayed as a rational character that runs an honest job thus reflecting the ability of success for working class blacks in the wider American society.

The rap soundtrack and cinema aptly represents the films back basketball culture and the gangster perceptions about the then African Americans. The film rejects the racial critic implicit in Birdies drug business and rejection of the rules of the game in how his basketball team in the neighborhood plays. Concerning the murder of the homeless man, the film portrays Birdies gangster lifestyle that culminates in irrational violence. For example, after Birdies team loses in the completion, he sends an equally aggressive Monroe to shoot Kyle. Nonetheless, it is notable that the film focuses the attention of its audience on the destructiveness of violence but not its genesis of the violent behaviors in social disadvantage (McLaughlin 86). In essence, the film does not expose the social roots of violence such as scarcity that promotes a violent culture among the black characters including Birdie (Donalson 96). In essence, just like any other media representations of basketball, Above the Rim avoids a careful engagement with the social and moral complexities that confront the working class black Americans.

The film's soundtrack reiterates the drug life and violence that dominates the life of Birdie and other characters in the movie. For instance, the soundtrack music recounts, Smoking weed helped me take away the pain. This affirmation approves the use of drugs among the African American youths. Nonetheless, the films music again debunks the drug life by reiterating that it makes users hopeless. In the words of the soundtrack music, So I'm hopeless rolling down the freeway swerving, don't worry. The violence and drugs in which the persona gets involved make life less meaningful to him, but he perceives that there is no otherwise.

Works Cited

Donalson, Melvin. Hip Hop in American Cinema. New York [u.a.: Lang, 2007. Print. 95-96

McLaughlin, Thomas. Give and Go: Basketball as a Cultural Practice. 1st ed., State University of New York Press, 2008.

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