On this day in pop culture history: ‘Boyz n the Hood’ opened in theaters
Boyz n the Hood was a history-maker. It made John Singleton the youngest person ever nominated for a Best Director Oscar and the first African-American honored in the category.
If those celebrating that landmark had gotten a peek into America 25 years after Boyz n the Hood’s release, they’d probably be rather disappointed — probably some mix of horrified and furious too. As Black Lives Matter protests make headlines following the deaths of Philander Castile and Alton Sterling, and as the Academy recovers from a season marked by the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite (though, on the other hand, Broadway got #TonysSoBlack trending), today marks a quarter century since Boyz n the Hood opened in theaters.
Though the 1992 Oscar nominations announcement came with the notable milestone for Singleton, the release of the movie in July 1991 was marked by tragedy: Despite the film’s concluding words, “Increase the Peace,” the movie’s opening weekend was marred by mostly gang-related violence, as gunfire erupted in theaters screening Boyz, ultimately leaving more than 30 people injured and one man dead.
The devastating film about three friends living in Crenshaw and Inglewood, CA (the same L.A.-neighboring city depicted in last year’s Dope) starred Laurence Fishburne, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Morris Chestnut, and Ice Cube (whose own story was depicted in last year’s Straight Outta Compton).
The success and lasting cultural impact of Boyz n the Hood is all the more impressive when you consider just how young Singleton was: Just out of USC’s film school, he was 22 years old at the time the film was shot in South Central Los Angeles and was just 20 when he wrote the script. Boyz n the Hood also earned Singleton an Original Screenplay nomination — he remains one of seven black filmmakers who have been nominated in either screenwriting category.
Singleton later again explored the strength of brotherhood and pain that’s left in the wake of violence with 2005 movie Four Brothers. Among his other directorial projects are Shaft, 2 Fast 2 Furious, and, most recently, an episode of American Crime Story.
25 years after Boyz n the Hood, Singleton recently called the state of black American film today “dismal and abysmal,” talking with the website Shadow and Act. He’s stayed in the hood, with his L.A. office on 43rd and Crenshaw.
Other notable July 12 happenings in pop culture history:
• 1960: The Etch a Sketch first went on sale.
• 1961: Irwin Allen sci-fi film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea premiered.
• 1962: The Rolling Stones played their first gig, at London’s Marquee Jazz Club. The band had borrowed money from Mick Jagger’s dad to rent equipment for the show.
• 1976: Family Feud, then hosted by Richard Dawson, premiered on ABC.
• 1982: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial surpassed $100 million, becoming the first movie to reach that box office mark within its first month in theaters.
• 1990: The first episode of Northern Exposure aired on CBS. The series went on to air for six seasons.
• 1991: Point Break opened in theaters. Its director, Kathryn Bigelow, went on to become the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director.
• 2002: USA Network comedy-drama detective series Monk premiered. It aired for eight seasons.
• 2003: Beyoncé album Dangerously In Love hit the top of the U.S. album chart.