Documentaries play a central role in film making. This is because they focus on a specific subject matter, are well researched and are very informative (Rascaroli). However, since documentaries are always designed to pass a particular message, they may sometimes lack the element of objectivity and neutrality. Documentaries argue for a certain position. They seek to prove something. They may also seek to disapprove something. This essay seeks to explore how the film 2pac Hologram- and his final hours presents history. It seeks to investigate the methods which the film maker uses to present this history. Specifically, the essay looks into aspects of artistic expression, ethics, social critique and entertainment value. It will be noted that there are several historical discrepancies between what the documentary presents also what actually was. Moreover, the documentary generally depicted the general life of 2pac Sharkur. The documentary 2pac Hologram- and his final hours vividly presents the life of 2pac Sharkur not only as a heroic Black rapper and gang-like activist but also as a person who claimed not to live his actual life as a way of fighting for social change thus creating some discrepancy between discussing the last hours of the main character and documentation of his entire life.
2pac Hologram- and his final hours is a documentary film that was meant to, as the title suggests, enumerate how the last 24 hours of 2pac Sharkur were spent. However, the 48 minutes-long documentary went ahead to enumerate the entire life story of the main character, or at least the main highlights of his life (Chapman). This presents the first discrepancy in the film. Although it could be argued that to understand why 2pac was killed, there was a need to understand his background; the documentary should not have been presented as a biography. Moreover, this approach has achieved several ends. First, the presentation of 2pac’s life makes the audience understand his personality and motivations. For instance, the viewer gets to understand that the musician was raised up without a father-figure in his life. This may have contributed to his waywardness in his later life. Secondly, we get to learn that his temperament was short; he did not give a damn. 2pac was even not respectful of the law as was seen in his rude conversation with corps as well as his imprisonment for robbery-related issues. 2pac was also accused of assaulting women. This presents a discrepancy in how the subjective creators of the film present him as an activist and liberator and his disrespect for the rule of law. In this view, advocacy does not mean failing to respect the law.
The second discrepancy could be traced from the 1960’s when Civil Rights Movements were started. Most of these groups were meant to do advocacy so as to enhance the rights of the Blacks such as the right to vote, rights of employment and equal treatment among others. However, the Civil Rights movements were always within law; they did not deliberately break the law in order to advance their agenda (Macpherson). But in this case, 2pac, through the membership of the Black Panther group, was not always a righteous man. This leaves the audience at confusion on whether Black liberation tenets have changed in any way. This is further illustrated by the disunity and competition among various Black rappers such as the New York-based Luv and 2pac. During the times of the civil rights movements, there was a great sense of unity among the Blacks but this documentary presents a rift of divisions between the Blacks themselves. In this view, the film is a presentation on a person’s personality that led to his downfall. There is no doubt that 2pac was killed by one of his enemies: he had Black enemies too.
The third discrepancy has to do with the main character’s renouncement of gang life. After being released from prison, 2pac made a public statement and confession that he was to completely leave thug and violent life. However, this was easier said than done. His personality and temperament would later contribute to his down fall. On September 7 1996, he is seen fighting another man just minutes before he performed at 622 club in Las Vegas (Higgins). In fact, this may have contributed to his death; the man he beat up may have organized for his killing. Although he had renounced violence, it was later seen that he was actually violent all through. This presents a disjoint between what the film makers want us to believe and what we actually see.
The death of the musician is a discrepancy between his claimed toughness and his succumbing to death. Six years before he was killed, he had survived another attack in which several bullets were fired at him in New York. Although he was a thug himself, he was robbed of millions of dollars and expensive gold. This fourth discrepancy is also exhibited by the fact that he claimed to be righteous in his private life and that all what he did in public was advocacy. This does not only lead to confusion in particular but also in general: do rap musicians practice what they preach or do they simply incite people. According to Macpherson, Hip Hop music is supposed to be part of the wider popular culture at the disposal of the Whites and the Blacks. However, the film appears to present a one-sided approach to popular culture; as if it were a property of the Blacks. There are no White interviewees in the documentary. In fact, most, if not all friends associated with 2pac are Black.
In order to present the subject matter of the film, the maker uses several strategies, methods or approaches. First of all, since it is a film about a musician, there was a great deal of entertainment aspect (Lipshutz). In several instances, the maker referred to the character’s performances on stage. The interviewees, some, were also musicians. This has succeeded in making the viewer want to see more of the film until its end. In a special way, the viewer would wish to see what happens in the Las Vegas performance. Therefore, there is some kind of suspense when 2pac does not actually get out of the car to go on stage for entertainment.
Artistic expression is the second strategy that the filmmaker uses to attract the attention of the viewer. Literally, 2pac’s body was tattooed all over. Viewers wish to look at him all the time. He also dresses in a catchy way, talks in a unique way and related with people in a warm manner. Above all, drawings appear to be the central part of the American Blacks presented in the film. The Black Panther was the culmination of all the artwork as a way of expressing ideas and possibly oppression.
Thirdly, social critique is at the heart of the documentary. The main character is overtly opposed to law. He does not agree to the discrimination of people especially the Blacks. He criticizes social ills through music. Further, he is seen to openly differ with his competitors on various social issues such as marketing of music. Through his massive sales, he has managed to influence not only Americans but also the entire world. According to the narrator, he managed to sell over 75 million albums in during his young career (Lipshutz). Following his death, there was much evidence that he was truly an activist and social change advocate. This is illustrated by the fact that twelve shootings were experienced several days after his death. It appears that he had influenced ‘his people’ who must have been trying to avenge his death. In their supposed revenge, the New York-based rapper was also killed. The film maker does not bring out any ethical issues. Moreover, these ethical issues are implied in the way the film is presented. For instance, the maker does not expose 2pac’s private life with his girl friend.
The final hours of 2pac were very tragic. He was killed in cold-blooded murder. However, the essay film goes beyond presenting the events of that particular day to include a short background and history of the musician. There is no doubt that the makers of the film were not absolutely objective; they wanted to justify a particular position that 2pac was a hero in spite of his perennial conflict with law enforcement authorities. These discrepancies are presented in a stylish way that includes entertainment and art in a bid to help the view appreciate the essay documentary.