Before Donald Trump starts complaining that Barack Obama has made homophobia illegal and warning the good people of America about hordes of gays that’ll show up at your door and literally buttfuck you into tolerance, I think it’s time to put a weird, gruesome and perhaps totally misinterpreted scene from Menace II Society into perspective.
Now, when I first saw this flick, I was living in Atlanta.
It disturbed the shit outta me.
But it took me a while to realize that what had disturbed me hadn’t been so much the movie itself, but Larenz Tate’s turn as O Dog.
It still stands as one of the three finest onscreen performances by a male actor I’ve ever seen; the other two being Mickey Rourke’s “Marv” from Sin City, and, of course, Marlon Brando’s “Vito Corleone” from The Godfather.
O Dog commits three onscreen murders.
The first is the Korean grocery owner that mutters “I feel sorry for your mother.”
The second is the “payback for Harold” murder of one of the two guys that killed his buddy Caine’s cousin Harold.
But it’s the third murder, the one of the crackhead, that people get twisted.
There’s a crackhead in the movie that’s been offering both cheeseburgers and blowjobs to random people in exchange for money and one day he mistakenly offers both to O Dog.
Of course, O Dog doesn’t want any cheeseburgers, but his response to the offer of a blowjob from a man, a murderous response, can be looked at in one of three ways.
In Sista Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever, there’s a male-on-male propositioning which she as the writer theorizes that another of her characters, Midnight, would have responded to by issuing a beating.
In Toni Morrison’s Home, a Black solider kills a child prostitute as she climbs along his leg attempting to offer him oral sex.
Now, while from Souljah’s interpretation, we may believe that what young O Dog might have been feeling was disrespect by anyone even imagining that he might respond in the affirmative to such a proposition, from Morrison’s take, we’re left to wonder if the reason that O Dog killed the crackhead was because if he left the crackhead alive, there might come a time when he, O Dog, was too weak to resist something he did, in fact, actually want; a homosexual encounter.
O Dog doesn’t have a girlfriend or even seem to relate particularly well to women, so…
O Dog, in reality, is the movie’s moral core.
He kills the Korean because no non-Black should dare to speak negatively about Black women; especially the one that gave birth to him.
He kills to avenge Harold because “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” is literally biblical.
And he kills the crackhead not out of homophobia but (surprise! surprise!) because he senses the crackheads pain.
The murder of the crackhead is a mercy killing.
If it had been a homophobic killing, O Dog would have killed the crackhead because the crackhead is gay and offering a blowjob, when in reality, O Dog kills the crackhead because the crackhead is not gay and offering a blowjob.
But, that sorta shit wouldn’t fly in today’s market. It would certainly get mistaken for homophobia.
Just like homophobia gets mistaken as something external.