Monday, January 24, 2022

Keke Palmer is a Lesbian Madam in New Lee Daniels Drama ‘Pimp’ VIDEO/PHOTOS

In the 70s, black exploitation films ruled by taking ‘hood’ or inner-city concepts and promoting them as positive aspects of our society.  The Mack won because of his wit and control over his women. Dolomite won with fake Karate. Although moving into the 90s those blatantly ‘exploitive’ films fell out of fashion, the idea of promoting hood values did not die.

Dolomite fight scene.

Currently, we have a slew of films and television shows that seek to continue the promotion of those values, albeit in a cleaner, more refined way.  Lee Daniels, a pioneer in this new wave of revamped exploitation films, has teamed up with child acting prodigy KiKi Palmer, in this coming of age story about a woman taking over her father’s pimping business.  

Keke Palmer as Wednesday in ‘Pimp.’

Daniels is a proponent of the LGBQ lifestyle and promotes it on many of his projects.  The long-running hit ‘Empire’ starring Taraji P. Henson, has a number of LGBTQ characters in prominent roles.  Although this show is a world away from the one that ‘Pimp’ lives in, Empire has survived harsh criticism for showing the African American lifestyle in a negative light, despite several of the lead LGBTQ characters being displayed in a positive light.

Keke Palmer and Lee Daniels embrace at the screening of the ‘Pimp’ movie at the Pacific Theaters in the Grove.  Photo by Troy Tieuel.

‘Pimp,’ on the other hand, makes no efforts to sugar coat its presentation.  ‘Pimp’ doesn’t go into the explicit nature of being a pimp or running a brothel, instead chooses to focus the story on the relationships that are built up as the main character, played by Keke Palmer, grows and learns about being a pimp.  

More movies and films of this nature can be expected considering our current climate of feminism over femininity and the rise of female empowerment caused by the #MeToo movement.  The idea of ‘a woman can do anything a man can do’ is a prominent theme throughout this film. The only disappointing thing about its use in this film is the fact that the female lead loses every time she goes up against a man.  She only wins versus women and doesn’t pimp men.

Like those early 70s exploitation films, the characters in ‘Pimp’ all derive from the lowest class of American society with all the classic ghetto tropes, with few truly positive qualities.  The prostitutes all cannot do for self, and the lead character Wednesday, played by Palmer, is forced to look outside her harem to find a more profitable prostitute.

“Pimp’ movie co-stars Haley Ramm, driving, Paola Lázaro and Paige Searcy as Wednesday’s girls.

The men in this film are all sidekick like versions of other movie concepts.  There’s a chopshop man, introduced at the beginning of the film as if he was going to play a central role, but doesn’t.  He only provides her with cars and weaponry like James Bond’s Que. His plan gets her killed in the end and outside of giving her a new fancy ride, he plays no critical part in the storyline.

There are several redeeming positive aspects of this move.  Any movie showing strong females is a good thing and needed throughout the world.  Keke Palmer show her acting range by moving from the squeaky clean roles she played as a child and seeking out more adult orientated roles.  Shaving her head and donning a muscular physique, she becomes a strong and resilient, the opposite of her former self.

In the film, Nikki her girlfriend, played by Haley Ramm, is lead through several stages of character development before subjugating herself and begging to become one of Wednesday’s prostitutes.  With that said, she shows herself to be truly dedicated to Wednesday and sacrifices herself in the end for her woman.

The evil, homicidal pimp, played by Edi Gathegi seeks to foil Wednesday’s plans.

The storyline climaxes after Wednesday attempts to steal another pimp’s woman, played by Vanessa Morgan, and causes problems for her organization.  When the new pimp finds Wednesday’s secret hotel room, Palmer’s character is forced to battle with a man. She loses, is almost raped, and is forced to grab a pistol and shoot the man.  This causes her to have to escape in the same flashy vehicles that she had been driving the whole film.

But don’t worry, empowered females cannot defeat a straight man, and this is shown in the final scenes where the pimp catches up with Palmer and her cast of sidekicks.  

Just like the first time you reach the final boss scene of a video game, the protagonist and all her crew are defeated by the man and only move past the battle to die slow unclimactic deaths.  This was described by the director and producers as an alternate ending because they could not make the original ending happen due to logistics and budget.

Ultimately, Palmer’s portrayal of a female pimp is hampered by the writer’s choices of having her never be successful against a man, something that a real female pimp would have had to overcome on day one.  She doesn’t beat up a dude, and the fight scene between her and the antagonist’s goon had her resort to classic battered woman combat poses, a stark difference from the hard-nosed combat displayed at the beginning of the film.  That initial combat was against a woman, so I guess it was okay for her to be the dominant one.

The fight scene in ‘Pimp.’

What was the purpose of that first fight scene?  Was it to introduce the main character? That was being done via the narration.  Was it done to show her anger issues? No, she doesn’t get angry in the film, as a matter of fact, she shows great poise and good negotiating skills in her dialogue.  Maybe it was to show that Wednesday could be knocked down and get back up. A skill that she shows in every fight that she is in.

Palmer pushed the envelope of her acting skills and leads this cast with her strength and beauty, despite her dressing ‘butch.’  She produces a quality performance that should open the door for more action-oriented roles. Lastly, Palmer crushes every role that she plays, from ‘Akila and the Bee’ to her multiple voices over roles, and the ‘Pimp’ film is no exception.  She shows a wide array of emotion, her character grows, and finally seeks to escape from the negative life with her only friends in tow.

Venessa Morgan plays a stripper named ‘Destiny’ in Lee Daniel’s ‘Pimp.’

Other stand-out performances come from co-star Vanessa Morgan who played Destiny, an upper echelon stripper who attempts to play both sides of the pimp game.  Edi Gathegi played Kenny Wayne, the homicidal antagonist that returns to claim his woman. Gathegi donned an accent and brought forth a clear representation of a criminal that should be avoided by everyone.

Sharon Stone and ‘Pimp’ director Christine Crokos at the Los Angeles premiere of ‘Pimp.’  Photo by Troy Tieuel.

‘Pimp’ premiered November 7, in theaters nationwide.  Written and directed by Christine Crokos, it has an MPAA rating of ‘strong sexual and violent subject matter, profanity.’ The cast includes Keke Palmer, DMX, Vanessa Morgan, Haley Ramm, Edi Gathegi, Aunjanue Ellis with a running time of 1 hour and 26 minutes.

For more information about ‘Pimp’ go to https:/trailerdb.com/title/tt3107166/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1.  View the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4HNINqnsbM.

pimp poster2

 

Tieuelium
A writer, illustrator and photographer.

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