Raiders: Ice Cube, ESPN fumbles documentary
“Doing a documentary is a lot different than doing a movie,” – Ice Cube
Yesterday, ESPN aired Ice Cube’s “30 for 30″ documentary “Straight Outta L.A.” The nostalgic look back at the now Oakland Raiders stint in Los Angeles would have fit right at home on VH1 or MTV, but it was out of place on the sports network and quite frankly, did nothing but prove to be a self indulgent piece for the rapper, actor and director who professes his love for the franchise.
It was a look back at the influence the Silver & Black had on the city of Los Angeles, mostly during the West-Coast rap movement where it seemed that every rapper who catapulted onto music videos had some sort of Raiders fan-gear. How both that rap scene and the Los Angeles football team were synonymous; spreading like wildfire during an era in which Ice Cube rose to popularity.
Quite frankly, unless you are a completely out of the loop and had no recollections of what went on during that period, there was nothing in this ‘documentary’ that would enlighten the viewer.
The associations with the street life, violence and many negatives aspect that arose from those donning Silver & Black and the relationship with the team were overly emphasized. “That team represented the L.A. I knew,” Cube explained. “It wasn’t the ‘Showtime’ Lakers, where people saw the glitz and the glamour. It wasn’t the ’84 Olympics. It was a little more grimy, and the Raiders represented that, in South Central [where they played]. They had the whole city on lock. To me, [this project] is the true representation of music and sports.”
Yes, the player’s accounts of what happened during that period were a nice touch. The footage presented and presentation were adequate, but it failed to really engage, while being manic and painfully disappointing with its lack of direction and objective.
If Ice Cube was trying to self promote, give his personal account and views, gratify himself by boasting about his career and emphasize the importance of the team to his life – then mission accomplished.
Otherwise, NFL Films and other stellar presenters of sports documentaries have nothing to worry about after seeing Ice Cube’s effort and none of those other creative and very appealing presenters of history won’t ever be asking the former gangsta rapper to produce or direct any future features.
Even the interview with Al Davis lacked depth and seemed very shallow, only made interesting by the aging owner who is quite frank and is very captivating whenever he talks. And with his declining age, anytime he speaks, all Raider fans listen, whether they love or despise him.
Ultimately, the best part about it was Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke, who has worked for the publication since 1996. The regular ESPN contributor, who has displayed quite a personality working such shows as ‘Around the Horn,’ poignantly stated what the Raiders meant to Los Angeles and how that melting pot embraced everything Raiders. In closing the presentation, the best was delivered when Plaschke stated:
When I think of the L.A Raiders, I think of a hidden L.A. I think of the L.A that nobody notices. I think of the LA that showed up every Sunday madder than hell, wanting to take on the world. The kind of L.A that you don’t see on TV, the kind of L.A that comes from Mexico, the kind of L.A that comes from inner cities all over this country. When I think of the Raiders I think of the heartbeat of Los Angeles. And some if it we didn’t like, and some of it wasn’t very pretty, and some of it wasn’t very fun but it was who we are and just like that it was gone.
Oh, in reply to Ice Cube’s statement: “The silver and black might call another place home, but the Raiders will always belong to L.A.”
This may be true in your eyes, but the Raiders are Oakland.
The history of the Raiders was beautifully depicted in HBO’s documentary, ‘Rebels of Oakland: The A’s, the Raiders, the ’70s,’ aired in 2003. If you want to see the social, economical and civil attachment that is deeply rooted in the city of Oakland and how the Raiders are part of the fabric of that town, please view that special and enjoy a real perspective on what the Raiders are all about and how they will always belong to the Bay Area.
Contact Author: Victor Cotto – SB Report Columnist