Upholding Mo’ Better Blues | Part I

Deconstructing “The Cycle”

The Cycle in PNG

Generational Transmission of Dreams

During our discussion of the final montage in Mo’ Better Blues, we spent a lot of time discussing what it meant for Bleek to “Repeat The Cycle”. Frankly, I had a very hard time understanding the connection of this notion to the montage, because I didn’t think that it applied to the film.

As Professor Parham mentioned in class, “repeating the cycle” has negative connotations, and it is often used to imply a lack of generational progress, especially in relation to drugs, teen pregnancy, or abuse. From personal experience, I’ve heard parents use it in association to teenagers who repeat their parents’ or siblings’ mistakes. Hence, I found it extremely difficult to understand why Bleek was “repeating the cycle”.

After conducting a visual analysis of the beginning and final scenes, the main cycle I saw, regarded a generational transmission of dreams/life ambitions; a cycle that is not unusual for I have seen it prevalent in different cultures. As seen in the slideshow below, in the beginning scene, there was an intentional focus on Bleek’s parents, specifically his mother, enforcing a life path that was not his own. Bleek clearly had no interest in playing the trumpet, but his mother forced him to do so, because she had a vision in mind, for what his life path should be. The same could be seen in the last scene, with Bleek teaching his son how to play. Nonetheless, I also think it’s extremely important to note that the cycle still includes a problematic portrayal of the sexes, within the marriages. For example, apart from willingly transferring his interest of playing baseball to his son and grandson, Bleek’s father follows the agenda of his wife, in the same manner as Indigo.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the depiction of Bleek’s father and Indigo?

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  1. I feel like Bleek’s father wasn’t as involved in young Bleek’s scene as much as Bleek is involved in Miles scene. Bleek’s father was primarily focused on the television while Bleek practiced on his own. In Miles scene, Bleek actually sat near the piano with Miles teaching him how to play. That’s one small difference. Also, I would like to add that repeating the cycle can still be a relevant quote even with change. For example, in both scenes we have a young man who is practicing the trumpet when he friends approach his window asking if he can come outside to play. That in its self is repetition. However, a key difference is that now the children have a football when them as opposed to a baseball. This signifies that an entire generation has passed and the situation remains the same.

    1. Your analysis of Bleek’s father is on point. I liked how, in your comment and in your post, you demonstrated the differences between Bleek and his father and highlighted something positive about Bleek’s character, in doing so. In class, I feel like this would have been a great perspective to hear from, because I kind of got frustrated listening to all the negative things about Bleek.

    2. Also, I see where you’re coming from with a repetition with change, but, the literal meaning aside, do you think that the montage applies to society’s understanding of “repeating the cycle”?

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