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Chapter I- Never Trust a Big Butt and a Smile: Black Manhood Part 3

Baby Boy, like Menace discusses the nihilist worldview of young black men, only it speaks more to the sexual obsessions of the men who feel they have no control over their lives. Jody is introduced to the audience as an adult embryo in the womb. His life is that of a child with the ability to spread his seed throughout the neighborhood. Upon returning from a brief incarceration, he returns to his childhood room with nothing to do but have sex, live off of his two ‘baby mammas’ and his own mother. His maternal dependency is replicated within his two sexual relationships. He expects these women to provide for him and when they do not he accuses them of not caring for him. His mother is portrayed as young mother trying to still have a life after raising her son to adulthood. She insists that he grow up, but it is obvious he hasn’t been given the skill set to do so. Like Caine at the end of Menace, Jody wants to do something, but does not know how or what and is not given any guidance. Jody’s identity is his sexuality — like Caine and Sweetback before him. When confronted by Yvette, his main ‘baby momma’, about the reality of his cheating, unproductive economic situation and his life in general, he flees and begins a new sexual relationship. He ultimately does not complete his new sexual transaction, but the compulsion to gain a sense of power through sexual means shows his immature emotional development. For hooks, “Equating manhood with fucking, many black men saw status and economic success as synonymous with endless sexual conquest” (Cool 71). Jody seems to solve his problems through his ability to sexually satisfy young women. The young men in these films are moving through life with no sense of a non-sexualized self. Even attempting emotional equality, communicative intimacy or reciprocal vulnerability is outside of their frame of reference. Lack of emotional maturity cannot be seen as simply a symptom of the hip-hop generations’ youth. When looking for contemporary models of behavior, Spike Lee (with his proliferation of black visual images) is poignant because despite his sexism, as an older member of the hip-hop generation, his view on manhood is highly regarded. When applied to representations of older black men the hip-hop generationers could emulate, the same behaviors exist even in the absence of financial and social woes.

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