J e Strbigan Patig
Roses Are Rad
"He believes that everything in
America is related to race. I do not."
Robert Shapiro, one of O.J.
Simpson's lawyers, on his disagree-
ments with fellow defense attorney
Johnnie Cochran Jr.
The United States was glued to the
O.J. Simpson trial. The people of this
country have not been so focused on
one event since Kuwait was caught
between Iraq and a hard place. But
unlike the Gulf War, in which
hundreds of American lives were at
stake, this event was eye-catching
because it involved a celebrity
possibly committing an unfathomable
When people look back on the
Simpson case, they will remember
some details of the case, and they will
remember the acquittal, of course.
They will also remember what they
thought of the verdict, and what they
thought of the verdict is strongly
affected by the color oftheir skin.
When we think of racial division in
this country, we tend to think of the
Rodney King beating, of the Ku Klux
Klan, of Leonard Jeffries, of segrega-
These are obvious. They are about
race, about the oppressed and the
oppressors, about equality.
The O.J. Simpson case is rarely
presented that way. Two people were
brutally murdered, and the chief
suspect was a national icon, and that
was always the story here. The
country was obsessed with the
question: Did O.J. do it?
The answers people gave were
telling. A great majority of whites
said yes; an even higher percentage of
blacks said no.
Shocked? Welcome to America,
where people from different back-
grounds may or may not get along,
but almost never understand each
Most whites who think Simpson is
guilty don't understand how anyone
can think otherwise.
Look at the facts, they say, look at
And that, right there, is the
problem. Whites tend to look at the
prosecution's facts as facts; they look
at the evidence as evidence.
Blacks tend to look at the
prosecution's facts as questionable;
they look at the evidence as planted.
It seems implausible that people
can look at the same information and
make totally different conclusions.
But they are not looking at the same
information from the same vantage
The black who has been pulled
over because of skin color, who has
been harassed by police officers, who
has been cursed, insulted and
slandered, understandably tends to
The white who has gone through
life without such problems tends to
believe people, even scum like Mark
Obviously, one of the sides is
wrong in this case - Simpson either
did it or he didn't. The jury - made
up mostly of blacks - decided
Simpson was not guilty. But in
another case, who knows who will be
on the jury? Who knows how they
will react to the evidence?
And if you think this racial division
is only apparent in cases of violence,
try playing a popular rap album for a
middle-aged white couple. Listen to
them tell you it is unlistenable, that
nobody in their right mind would
listen to that junk, as though people
who do listen to it are intent on
Then go check the charts and see
that millions of people have bought
that very record.
If we don't understand how people
could listen to certain music, what
can we understand?
It is difficult to admit sometimes,
Life and war mn
th ubn ngeBy Michael Zilerman
Daily Arts Writer
Allen and Albert Hughes refuse
to behave like celebrities. It's
not that they don't have a right
to indulge in some primadonna-like be-
havior. Their explosive debut, "Men-
ace II Society," won them a squall of
critical acclaim and the "Picture Of The
Year" title at the MTV Movie Awards
(over"Schindler's List"). All that at the
age of20. But not only aren't Allen and
Albert the least bit changed by the suc-
cess, money, connections and the cur-
rent promotional juggernaut for "Dead
Presidents," their sophomore effort -
they don't seem to notice it. Instead of
milking the Hollywood system for what
it's worth or launching into tedious
complains about it in order to gather
some street credibility, they prefer to
shun it altogether.
Both in the directing process and in
this interview, Allen seemed to be the
boss. The brothers were quick to ac-
knowledge that. They happily admitted
to "some sibling rivalry," yet Allen did
all the talking. Albert occasionally
chimed in. The latter brother spent the
interview busily drawing on a hotel
As the conversation progresses, the
sketch became more and more de-
tailed, and after a while I started to
realize that Albert is drawing a guy
getting his face blown off at point
blank. He's not satisfied with the re-
sults, adding more and more blood or
fire until the whole napkin is pitch
black from the graffiti. And as Allen
talked and Albert'drew, it becomes
clear that their success stems from the
fact that they are utterly, adolescently
caught up in what they're doing. And
sure enough, when the first, obliga-
tory question is asked, the answer is
Daily : I know everybody keeps ask-
ing you this, but still-why Vietnam,
why the '60s and '70s?
Allen Hughes: "The times were cool,
that's it. The music, the costumes, the
whole era is interesting. We really got
into recreating it. Down to the clips
from 'The Andy Griffith Show."'
D: You guys grew up around Detroit,
H: "Yeah--Detroit, Southfield, Ann
Arbor. Our mother decided to get away
from it, moved to California. But we
grew up around here. In fact, 'Dead
Presidents' was originally set in De-
troit, and for the first two weeks of
production, we were getting ready to
shoot here. But it's just easier to do a
film in New York City. So we moved
the story there."
D: How did you get started in film?
H:"We were making all those short
movies and music videos since we were
12. We never went, 'Ah, we want to
become filmmakers.' We would just
pick up a camera and shoot. I never
understand all those people who come
up to us and say they want to be direc-
tors. If you dream about being a direc-
tor, you're not gonna be one, 'cause
you're too busy dreaming, you know?
D: In "Dead Presidents", you've ob-
viously commanded a decent budget.
H: "Yeah, and it feels more, um,
traditional, right? It doesn't have this
frenetic pace that 'Menace II Society'
had. It feels more like a normal Holly-
D: It is, in a sense. But was it easier or
harder for you to work within the Hol-
lywood system, with huge financial
See HUGHES, page 7B