There’s this infamous interview with rapper Cam’ron where Anderson Cooper asks him about his “No Snitching” philosophy. After a few minutes of Cam professing his aversion to tattling, even if it were to find the person who shot him, Cooper asks, “What if a serial killer were living next door to you? Would you tell then?”
“Nah, but I would probably move away though.”
Cam’s answer shocked many, but not me.
Cam’ron Has a Point- Especially if You’re Black
Cam echoed what I would do in the same situation. I’m not a gangster nor do I live by the “No Snitching” code that so many people in the hood do, but I am a black woman living in America and that in and of itself carries with it many reasons to avoid any kind of willing interaction with the police, even if it means turning a blind eye to whatever Jeffery Dahmer Jr. Is doing next door. Also—and this is a point that many people, especially those of the Caucasian variety can never grasp—what my neighbor does in his house is none of my goddamned business.
And if – IF I were to call the cops, it would have been a vague anonymous tip made from a payphone in another state AFTER I moved away from my house beside Ted Bundy or whoever the fuck I was living beside. I’m certainly leaving no chance of that murderous neighbor finding out I was the one who ratted him out. That just seems like common sense. Alas, common sense ain’t so common.
But I digress.
I kept thinking about Cam’ron and his interview while watching Summer of ’84. If anything, that movie makes a great case to support what Cam’ron and I believe to be a rule to live by: mind your fucking business.
Summer of ’84 Spoilers Ahead
Summer of ’84 tells the story of Davey Armstrong, a teenage boy living a pretty normal life in middle-class white suburbia. Davey and his friends spend their summer talking about girls, visiting the arcade, and playing manhunt with other boys in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, a serial killer christened the Cape May Slayer is abducting and killing teenage boys in the tri-state area.
One night, while playing manhunt, Davey sees a young boy in his neighbor’s house. The boy is reported missing the next day. Davey becomes convinced that his neighbor, a seemingly normal police officer, is really the Cape May Slayer. Davey enlists his friends to help him find out the truth and bring his neighbor to justice. They watch him at night, they sneak into his house, they go through his trash. Everything goes pretty predictably…until the end.
Davey finally finds the evidence he and his friends were searching for—a decomposing body along with a missing teen boy chained in his neighbor’s basement. Davey and his best friend Woody bring the evidence to the police and then all hell breaks loose. A lackluster movie exploded into a pretty exciting final 10 minutes. Davey’s neighbor, Mr. Mackey, kidnaps Davey and Woody bringing them to some remote woods to play his own sick version of manhunt.
An Ending to Remember
He lets the boys loose. They run and stumble over more dead bodies of teen boys. Davey tries to draw Mackey away so that Woody can save himself, but the Cape May Slayer has something else in mind. Mackey kills Woody then corners Davey and tells the boy that what he has in store for him is something worse than death. Mackey wants him to live. He wants Davey to see him in every dark corner, and behind every closet door. He wants him to constantly look over his shoulder for the rest of his life until the day that Mackey returns to finish the job.
The scene is chilling and fucked up. It was brilliant. I still think about the ending of Summer of ’84 and how unsettling it was.
Whiteness and The Need to Be A Hero
I know that Davey is just a teenager and didn’t deserve any of what happened to him. In a way, what he tried to do was the right thing. If Davey really just wanted to catch a murder and save future victims, then it was indeed a noble gesture. But that’s not why he did it.
In the movie, Davey reads Hardy Boy books and wants to be an investigative journalist like his dad. Davey also wants to be more than “just a kid” to his neighbor/ex-babysitter/crush. Davey wants to be a hero. He wants to be the one to save the day and get a pat on the back from his peers and adults in the community. That in and of itself is selfish and I think it’s part of why a lot of white people are so eager to call the police for anything and everything. Yes, there are usually racist motivations, but a lot of times, there is another motivation to be the “one who saved the day.”
Honestly, it’s a little pathetic.
Thoughts From a Black Girl
I’ve never understood that need to save the day. I think it is because of my own personal blackness. I’m sure there are black people out there who would love to be a hero. Think of Miles Morales and Black Lightning, they do it, right? Catching bad guys means having to deal with police and the court system, and as I mentioned above, as a black woman that is the last thing I want to volunteer for. Also, I don’t think that I’ve ever been the type of person to seek approval or notoriety from others. Do I want to make my mom proud? Sure, I guess but if that means catching a serial killer, then she’s just going to have to be disappointed in me for the rest of her life.
So as I watched Davey risk life and limb for…what? A medal? A pat on the head? I was utterly perplexed. Davey put his own life and the lives of his friends at risk to be a hero. He broke laws and got his best friend killed for…some clout?
And the whole time, I thought of Cam’ron.
“What if a serial killer were living next door to you? Would you tell then?”
“Nah, but I would probably move away though.”
Me too, Cam. Me fucking too.
Where to Watch
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