Experiencing the Cinema of Nihilism
I'm larger than that nigga Steven Segal.
— O Dog, Menace II Society
Although the contemporary expression of the gangsta is primarily a result of the thematics of gangsta rap, a concurrent episode has taken place in the world of Black film. With the resurgence of African American cinema in the late 1980s and the 1990s, there has been a lot of emphasis placed on the life of the gangsta from a cinematic standpoint. Clearly some of the most profitable films—e.g., New Jack City, Boyz n the Hood, and Juice—of the newest wave of African American cinema have been related in some way to the gangsta genre.
This chapter will explore how this genre has resurfaced in film, with specific attention to the history of the gangster genre, both in a larger sense and in relation to the Blaxploitation era. In addition to looking at