“Thank you, Jesus!” That’s what one member of the group Three 6 Mafia exclaimed after the group won an Oscar this year. The category? “Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original song)” for It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp. No, I’m not making this up.
The song comes from the soundtrack of Hustle & Flow, a movie about a pimp who uses women to make “his” money to get out of this lifestyle and into the music industry. The song contains multiple expletives, including outrageously offensive terms for women and blacks. So we have misogyny, racism and vulgarity all contained in this little ditty and one of the performers deigns to thank Jesus for His part in it. Huh?
I go to church regularly and I have been racking my brain to think back to a time my pastor used any of those words while preaching on the life of Jesus and the Word of God. Nope, can’t think of a one. Let’s see, why would that be? Maybe because a Christ-centered life seeks to steer clear of these words and behaviors. Are we always successful at, say, not cursing? No, we are all sinners in need of Christ’s forgiveness. But I dare say most of us don’t flaunt that gift of forgiveness by blatantly defying Him and then thanking Him when we are rewarded by the secular world for going against Him, especially on a broadcast seen around the world by millions.
Evidently the lead character in the film, the pimp, sings It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp. He shows no respect for the women he is using, for the black community or for himself. But he sees himself as the underdog and looks to God for help. He sings,
I’m tryin’ to have thangs but it’s hard fo’ a pimp
But I’m prayin’ and I’m hopin’ to God I don’t slip, yeah
Does the pimp ask God to help the women being raped, beaten and abused because he wants to make money off them? Does he care about them and the miserable life they lead being traded like a commodity between him and hundreds of men? Let’s see if the lyrics from the end of the song answer these questions.
Man these girls think we prove thangs, leave a big head
They come hopin’ every night, they don’t end up bein’ dead
Wait I got a snow bunny, and a black girl too
You pay the right price and they’ll both do you
That’s the way the game goes, gotta keep it strictly pimpin’
Gotta have my hustle tight, makin’ change off these women, yeah
Uh, no, he doesn’t.
For the sake of full disclosure, I did not see Hustle & Flow, and I did not watch the Oscar broadcast of the song. I have no interest in seeing, or supporting with my hard-earned dollars, a movie that makes a pimp the hero of the film. This pimp uses and abuses women to make money to support himself. And we’re supposed to feel sorry for him? We’re supposed to root for him to pursue his dreams while he squashes the hopes, dreams and dignity of the women he calls b*******?
Maybe I look at this differently because of the work I do overseeing projects in Mexico to combat sex trafficking. Possibly the stories I read daily about women and children being sold like goods to evil people who violate them in every way, shape and form and then discard them like trash when they are broken, diseased or dead make me more sensitive to this topic.
Those reasons certainly play a part in my reaction to this vile song and the Academy’s poor judgment in rewarding hatred, but that is not all of it. As a Christian I believe that we should love one another as we would want others to love us. So it defies credulity to think that Jesus was pleased to be thanked by one of the creators of this filth. Hatred of oneself and others expressed through vulgar, misogynistic and racist language is diametrically opposed to the language of love espoused and exemplified by Jesus through His life and His death on the cross.
For that I say, “Thank you, Jesus.”
Brenda Zurita is Coordinator for Concerned Women for America’s Crossing the Bridge Project, which fights sex trafficking in Mexico.