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Crips and Bloods: Made in America - documentary DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating: 4 stars
Featuring: Forest Whitaker, Tom Hayden, Jim Brown, Todd Boyd, Gerard Horne
Director: Stacy Peralta   Distributor: Docurama
DVD release: 19 May 2009   Runtime: 95 min. (1 disc)
Format: Black & White, Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
DVD Features: Aspect ratio 1.78:1, Audio tracks (English - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround; Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), The Making of Crips and Bloods: Made In America, Deleted scenes, Interviews w/ Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne

Most people have heard of the Crips and Bloods, the rival gangs that roam and fight in the streets of L.A., but not many people can tell you where they came from or why they fight. That is what Crips and Bloods: Made in America hopes to achieve. While the issue has been taken on in fictional films such as John Singleton's Boyz in the Hood, this is the first time I've seen any documentary tackle the issue, and it's a doozie.

Perhaps beginning in the '50s, when blacks were not allowed to join the Boy Scouts, African American youths were looking for an organization to provide a social outlet - a place where they could get together and play baseball with friends or make crafts. Add to this the problem of segregation, a failing economic situation, and more and more single-parent housholds, and you've got a problem.

The first time these conditions came to a boil was in 1965 in the Watts area of Los Angeles, when a black man - Lee Minikus - was pulled over for driving under the influence. When his brother was not allowed to drive Lee's car home in favor of impounding the vehicle, the situation escalated, and much of the anger and resentment simmering under the surface came to a boil. Crowds began to gather; for six days there were riots. Thirty-four people died, 1,032 were injured, and 3,952 were arrested. The conditions that produced the riots were never quite addressed, and another boiling point was reached in 1992 when four LAPD officers were acquitted for the beating of Rodney King.

It's difficult to say what the roots of the animosity between the Crips and the Bloods are. Even they are unclear about the beginning of the war that still exists to this day.

This thoughtful documentary by Stacy Peralta uses archival footage, old photographs, and interviews with those in the gangs on both sides - those affected by the violence, and those who've escaped the violence and hope to help turn things around. If you're curious about what it's all about, Made in America can show you the ropes in a straightforward way.

I realize that I'm quite far away from the situation here in the heartland, and I'm as lily-white and street-ignorant as they come, but I can also see a problem that can be worked out for future generations not only in L.A. but everywhere. Maybe I'm just naive.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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