Donna Dewey, 1989
Date Viewed: April 29, 2008
Made 19 years ago
A) Donna Dewey uses interviews with gangsters, interviews with the mothers and fathers of gangsters and victims, an off-screen narrator, pictures of victims and dramatic music as elements within Homeboys.
B) Homeboys combines elements of expository and mosaic forms. On the surface, Homeboys qualifies as an expository film because of its heavy usage of gangster interviews and testimonials. These testimonials establish the gangsters as witnesses and participants in the gang culture. The testimonials are meant to prove the main argument of the film---that gang life leads to a life behind bars. By using the words of gangsters who had their lives ruined by gang membership, Dewey gives her film a sort of scientific and transparent feel. If a gangster admits that his life was ruined by being in a gang, that is all the objective proof the audience needs to believe the director's point that gangster life is dangerous and not worth the risks. When a gangbanger admits that he feels regret for being in a gang and killing someone, that acts specifically as scientific and objective proof that gang life is a wrong path to take. Pictures of innocent victims and the testimonies from the mothers and fathers of those victims act as more proof that all gang life does is take lives, both through death and through jail time.
Homeboys also acts as a mosaic in that it "braids" the testimonies of several gang members. From these various testimonies, one general statement about gang life is formed--that gang life ruins lives, takes lives and that gang members ultimately regret their actions. Dewey braids what numerous and opposing gangsters have to say about school life, the pain they have put their mothers through, violence they have committed and witnessed and how life behind bars has changed their views on gangs. Although we never hear the interviewer asking questions, the gangsters throughout the film are always answering the same questions in succession, and this braids their stories together. The fact that a "red" answers a question similarly to a "blue" allows the various "parts" and persons of the documentary to become whole and united. All of the testimonies build off of and parallel each other. These testimonies prove that even gangsters from opposing gangs share similar sentiments and regrets about their decision to join and actively participate in a gang.
The expository form uses interviews to scientifically drive home the point that gangsters themselves regret their gang life, but the mosaic form builds off of the expository to braid numerous and similar testimonies together from opposing gang members to further prove that gang life has a very unappealing dark side that is often overlooked.
C) One of Dewey's primary intents of the film is proving to inner-city black kids that they should avoid gang life. In order to fully make this argument, she needs real gangsters to emotionally reveal their regrets about their gang life and their negative sentiments toward gang culture. She braids many testimonies together and uses lots of interviews because all of these gangsters have united feelings about their gangs--both the red and the blue gang members share the same feelings about their gangs. Dewey therefore uses reiteration from numerous and opposing sources as a way of proving the dark "reality" of gang life. Dewey's combination of the mosaic and expository forms is the best format for delivering verbal "proof" from real gangsters about the downfalls they have endured for being in a gang. The "proof" of how their lives were ruined is supported by interviews with their mothers speaking about the pain they have endured because of their child's gang involvement. These mothers and incarcerated gangsters act as living proof that gangs are not as cool as they may seem.