Sometimes critics don't understand. In wake of the recent Diallo verdict, one could assume that they would lambast a clumsy ghetto comedy whose culmination involves an innocent and unarmed black man being shot at by a gang of angry white cops. A preliminary investigation supports this theory, with many folks lamenting the missed opportunity for trenchant satire of California's draconian three-strikes law that automatically gives a 25-to-life sentence to anyone convicted of three felonies. You don't have to live in South Central L.A. to realize that the criminal justice system is pitched against the interests of poor young black males; it is just one indication of widespread institutionalized racism that no Hollywood satire will solve. So when 3 Strikes makes light of its dark subject matter, rather than shirking responsibility, it is merely offering laughter in the face of hardship. Its young target audience knows what most film critics would be loathe to admit: that political films are no substitute for actual politics. That cheap booty comedies are often enjoyable because they are just that: the fast food of the film industry, quickly made, quickly consumed, quickly forgotten. McDonald's may be spearheading disastrous globalization and the death of diversity, but we've all eaten there a few times.
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