“Are you a Pimp or Ho?” It is an arresting question. But you instantly get the message. It is the question of the movie Ghetto Physics: Will the Real Pimps and Ho’s Please Stand Up! It is an invitation to a paradigm shift about the lenses we experience life through.
Up front the movie declares that we’ll be looking at our own face in the mirror, viewing our own role in the power plays of life. Cornel West says, “You’ll get pimped if you’re naïve” about life’s realities. In the world of this movie the world is our ghetto? Or is it?
Audiences jump into the conversation. Will Arntz – director of the movie along with E. Raymond Brown – and I recently spoke with an audience about their reactions to Ghetto Physics. Mostly they resonated with the question of whether we are each a pimp or ho – in the worldview of the movie we are each both, because there is one in every relationship. That is, if you are stuck in the paradigm of pimps who want the ho’s to believe that he or she cannot change their circumstance. Or if your relationships are all about who is pimping or ho’ing. I get the point but that’s not always the way it is.
I was unprepared for so many in the audience zeroing in on the spiritual questions raised by Ghetto Physics. Probably not surprising given that Will Arntz is the acclaimed director of What the Bleep Do You Know? - a remarkable movie exploring the spiritual connection between quantum physics and consciousness.
The audience was hungry to explore whether there is a new way of being that reflects the values of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” or what Ishmael Tetteh calls, “the reality within you.” I believe there is a new way to be human, to become fully alive. There are pathways that help us to navigate that big truth. They each invite transformation.
Ghetto Physics only touches on this being a “time of transformation” because it is a “time of crisis” brought on by the pimping which it claims is found in academia, religious institutions, government and corporate life. E. Raymond Brown tells a student that “there are always options” but that it a copout for what transformation means. Ghetto Physics does not engage in the spiritual pathways of discovering a new way to be human. It only alludes to them but then takes a pass. But that is not the purpose of the movie.
It does use powerful imagery, humor and the hip-hop language of pimps and ho’s to suggest two things. First, If you’re going to live in the global ghetto of pimp’s and ho’s know that you are not just a ho but that you can pimp as well. Second, this is not the only game in town; it is not the only paradigm. There is another option – to rise to the spiritual journey. This is the sequel to Ghetto Physics that I’m waiting for!
In our conversation with the audience Will Arntz and I discovered a deep hunger for meaning, purpose and living a life of value. The film will likewise engage you. At the very least you’ll come away asking about the paradigm and lenses through which you choose to live.
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