Monday, February 2, 2015

I Am Gangster

It’s been a long time coming but Citizen has finally found its title. Citizen, Assassination, AOC, whatever you’re used to, these have been steps on the evolutionary title ladder, rudiments of lazy title thought. I Am Gangster is the result of a lengthy thought process, it certainly didn’t just “come to us”. It had to be summoned, prayed for, sacrificed for. 

Gangster does a few things: first of all it comes across as a declaration of profession like I am plumber, I am accountant, I am filmmaker. It’s an intimate title, it reflects a pride, a defiant pride of being a gang member while hinting at the provocative nature of it.

A gang is empowerment, and for many Homies resembles something close to a family. It’s an identity for someone who hasn’t been given an opportunity to shape one. And the title echo’s that personal, inside perspective the film takes, to experience the film world through the eyes of the protagonist.

I Am Gangster is controversial for outsiders on the one hand because as socially presentable “being gangster”, a “gangster-type lifestyle”, as warped as the pop cultural image of a Gangster has become, the label Gangster disregards nuance, individual circumstance and humanity. On the other hand this kind of inherent pride is not only a slap in the face but as that primarily a call for attention.

The title picks up on what I have found to be at the core of the street gang phenomenon: the desire to belong, the search for kinship as Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries calls it. And in that sense the title represents one of the core themes of the film, the struggle for self-realization at all costs.

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