MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1 1/2

Content: -4

In this very revealing documentary, hip-hop Rap group Ruff Ryders, including Jay-Z, DMX, Method Man and Redman, are followed on their 1999 Hard Knock Life tour. They perform in packed arenas, hold all-night parties in big hotels, and bicker over backstage deals with Roc-A-Fella Records. Flashy jewelry and custom-made leather jackets are worn to show the world they are somebody. Rap lyrics express anger and resentment for the extreme poverty they endured while growing up in the ghettos. These now successful entertainers revel in the screaming adoration of their fans. BACKSTAGE has no humor, no repeatable lyrics, and certainly no tunes you can whistle. Soulful ballads and classic jazz created in the early 1900s by these performers ancestors enriched American culture but, hopefully that generations musicians still living are now too deaf to hear these self-anointed artists make a mockery of decency. But fans will probably flock to this behind-the-scenes glimpse of these popular rappers.

Most adults over 30 will think it impossible to find something positive about BACKSTAGE. The ghetto images of drugs, degrading sex and hustling reflected in the rappers music, seems to cling to their fame and fortune. The performers are shown spending their spare time smoking pot, drinking, gambling and spouting filthy expressions. Female fans throw themselves at the performers, mob them at their hotels, and entice the young men by offering their bodies. The camera even follows one couple into a room where they engage in unconventional sex. Two attractive girls stand stark naked at a party while these stars fondle them. At concerts, women in the audience throw underwear and often bare their breasts. Surprisingly, some of the most aggressive are young, white women. But the most disgusting aspect of BACKSTAGE is the filthy dialogue. While many words are indistinguishable, Preview counted at least 135 f-words and 58 s-words, plus at least 67 uses of the n word. Lyrics are just one repetitive obscenity after another, and the audience responds as though its poetry. What kind of example do these entertainers set for young people listening to their records, watching their videos and attending live performances? Better yet, what attracts young people to these performers?

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Miramax (Dimension Films), 375 Greenwich, NY, NY 10013

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (26) times Mild 4, Moderate 22

Obscene Language: Continuous (200) times - F-word 135, s-word 58, other 7

Profanity: Few (4) times Regular (JC)

Violence: None

Sex: Once (unconventional sex, no nudity)

Nudity: Many times (full frontal of two women in crowded room, breasts bared frequently in audience, male rear few times)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Many times (rap lyrics filled with sexual slang, women offer themselves to performers, conversations filled with crude sexual references)

Drugs: Many times (marijuana smoking, heavy drinking at parties and backstage)

Other: Ethnic slur (N-word) used frequently by blacks, men gamble; no respect shown for women; gross description of tainting food and drink with body fluids

Running Time: 90 minutes (est
Intended Audience: Adult Rap fans

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