Amoeblog


AIRBRUSHING OUT CONTROVERSY

Posted by Billyjam, October 22, 2007 01:00pm | Post a Comment
juice tupac
The image to the left is the album cover art from the soundtrack to the film Juice that starred Tupac Shakur as the crazy & wild, revolver-carrying character Bishop (one of a group of Harlem teenagers). At the time of its release in 1992, the film stirred up quite a bit of controversy over said gun in the artwork that was also used in the movie's advertising campaign. I remember back then, as you probably do too, seeing the ad in magazines, on big billboards and also on AC Transit buses driving by. The image was identical to the one at the left with a gun-toting Pac. But soon after, a heated controversy arose over the inclusion of the gun in the movie poster and the artwork was altered, with the gun being airbrushed out of the image altogether.

The whole controversy over the Juice advertising campaign was instigated by reporter Anita Busch at the Hollywood Reporter when she wrote a critical article about Paramount Pictures' advertising campaign for the movie. She wrote that some people feared the ad dipiction would lead to violence around the movie theaters. The article triggered a landslide of bad publicity, which in turn triggered fear, which ultimately led the studios/producers of the juice tupac film to alter the artwork and remove the gun (a revolver) from all movie related materials -- as in the DVD cover art, on the right.  

Among shocked rap fans at the time (myself included), the feeling was that it was a bullshit censorship move, with the real irony being that Hollywood was not airbrushing out guns from other (non rap related) movies. Clearly it came off at the time as a double-standard targeted at black youth and at a genre of music that was prone to controversy. (This was around the time of Ice T's "Cop Killer" and other hot-button controversies.) In fact, just a year earlier Vice President Dan Quayle used his high-profile position to slam Tupac's first album, 2Pacalypse Now: "There is absolutely no reason for a record like this to be published … It has no place in our society," was what Quayle said at the time of the rap album by the former Digital Underground member.

In direct response to Quayle's statement, in "Pac's Theme" on his second album (1993's Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.) the late, great rapper articulately addressed the comments of the former Vice President, who remember even had trouble with his ABC's, by saying, "I was raised in this society so there's no way you can expect me to be a perfect person."

Another fallout of the whole Juice/gun controversy in 1992 was that Paramount Pictures was so incensed by the Hollywood Reporter's writer that it pulled its advertising in the trade paper and stopped sending press releases for an entire year.

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