The movie ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’, based on the life of rapper Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, has become the centre of controversy in Cayman.
Even before the movie began showing at the Marquee Cinema Wednesday, there were calls to ban the film.
The Cayman Ministers’ Association, in an open letter, expressed concern over the movie’s contents and asked that the cinema withdraw the film from release. Pastor Al Ebanks explained the CMA’s position.
‘The heart of our concern is the violence that has followed the showing of this movie,’ he said.
In addition to other incidences of violence in the US, Mr. Ebanks was referring to reports of a murder at a Pittsburgh-area cinema following the showing of the movie, which was then pulled.
‘We recognise that this film is one among many that is similar in nature. What we have really been trying to communicate is the violence that has followed this film.
‘How are people like me expected to feel if we have this information and don’t do anything about it? If there was no connection why would the theatre decide to pull this movie?’ he said.
Douglas Graham, owner of the cinema, believes the controversy has been blown out of proportion. He watched the movie before releasing it and has written back to Mr. Ebanks in response to the CMA’s criticism.
‘The movie is about a young man who grew up on the street and hustled drugs, but he had a musical talent and never gave up on it. The desire got stronger and eventually he turned his back on the drugs and he succeeded. 50 Cent produced and financed the picture to give that message to young people,’ Mr. Graham said.
The movie did fairly well on its first night and the crowd was well-behaved, he added.
‘Some of the people who saw the movie commented that this was a storm in a teakettle,’ Mr. Graham said.
He also dismissed the reports of violence in cinemas in the US as having nothing to do with the movie.
In the letter, the CMA points to the current situation in Cayman as further reason not to show the film.
‘Most people are well aware that the Cayman community is currently involved with a major effort to seek to get illegal guns off our streets, and major expense has been incurred by Government and numerous private agencies in an effort to put an end to the unparalleled crime spree that has swept this island post-Ivan…
‘We are appalled that given the international negative publicity this movie has generated and the violence it has spawned inside some movie theatres that the management of the cinema has agreed to bring this film to Cayman.’
Previously, Cayman’s Cinematographic Authority monitored the films that would be shown here, but its members haven’t been reappointed since 2002.
As mentioned at yesterday’s Cabinet briefing, there are provisions to reinstate the board which would have to be done through the Legislative Assembly.
Mr. Graham admits the film is not suitable for everyone but he has made allowances for that.
‘I never speak about a movie unless I see it. Every last film I put on the screen I see. The violence in this movie is graphic; the language is of the street. It can be frightening to a small child.
‘Technically the ‘R’ rating will take you down to any age provided you are with an adult. The ratings give a minimum that you can’t go below, but we can go above. Only age 12 and over can see this movie, with an adult,’ he said.
Mr. Graham believes banning the movie raises the question of censorship.
‘We are talking censorship. We went that way 50 and 100 years ago and we learned that doesn’t work.
‘The picture is about redemption and what’s wrong with that? I think it has a very positive message.
‘Sometimes people look at the cover of a book and decide not to read it. What if people said they didn’t like Harry Potter?’ he said.
Mr. Ebanks insists this issue is not about censorship.
‘I have never objected to any other movie that has been shown here. If it (an objection) was simply on the basis of the content of a movie, we would have to speak out probably on a daily basis,’ he said.