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As a way to promote their upcoming “On The Run” tour Beyoncé and Jay-Z released “RUN” earlier this week, a four minute movie trailer that finds the husband and wife duo playing bank robbing lovers on the run from the long arm of the law. The trailer is directed by Melina Matsoukas and stars Hollywood big shots like Don Cheadle and Sean Penn.
More of a celebration and advertisement for gun violence than anything else, Jay and Beyonce spend the better part of four minutes waving guns in the air, shooting guns, hanging out with guns, robbing banks with guns, flirting with guns, cleaning off guns, and getting rid of guns. Is it dope? Yes. Is the idea of making an action packed movie trailer to promote a summer tour exciting? Yes it is. But more importantly, could “RUN” be a disheartening and counterproductive visual for our country? Considering the fact that 30,000 people die annually from firearms, I’m afraid so.
It’s safe to say that the Hip Hop culture is fascinated with guns. This is the easy part. The more difficult part is determining where this fascination stems from, how it has shaped the culture, and how it will continue to influence Hip Hop music. Being that Hip Hop was born out of the struggle there are many implications as to how the fascination with guns came to be. Unfortunately, the relationship that exists between guns and Hip Hop is probably warranted. Among other things, guns represent power, control, masculinity, protection, and comfort, all character traits and identities that young black and Latino males were desperately searching for when they began to create the structure for Hip Hop culture in the late 70s (Keep in mind, the Reagan era and the crack epidemic were in full swing during this time).
On many occasions when rappers rap about guns or appear to be glorifying them in their lyrics, it really is art imitating life. But this is not the case with “RUN”, because the trailer fails to depict gun violence shown as an aspect of real life. Since robbing banks in couture clothing and playing with guns isn’t the norm for most of us, an argument could be made that the duo is exploiting a violent culture where celebrating guns, sex and violence proves to reign supreme.
As cool as the trailer is, with its A-List cameos, great music, and over the top action, it still lacks originality. In theory, a movie trailer used to promote a summer tour is extraordinary, but in reality, depicting images of gun violence and crime for an American audience is the standard. Nothing new or original here. Original would’ve been creating a trailer that portrays progressive images of two of music’s biggest stars in a way that uplifts Hip Hop culture in a fresh and groundbreaking way. Let’s not run from that.