A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The subject of the film and interviewees seem captivated by the pimp's style and power, while the film glosses over the unpleasant and brutal aspects of the job.
Positive Role Models
It's worth noting that Iceberg Slim did redeem himself somewhat by giving up his life on the streets and becoming a noted writer and family man.
Violence & Scariness
There are some mentions of violence, particularly against women to "keep them in line." Archival footage of Slim slapping a woman to the ground is replayed repeatedly.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Though the whole movie is about a man who took money from women who had sex with other men to get it, sex is rarely mentioned. But viewers will see many shots of scantily clad women, some loitering on street corners or getting into cars, and there is some discussion of the mechanics of prostitution.
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Many unbleeped F-words and S-words; the words "bitches" and "hos" are frequently applied to women.
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Products & Purchases
Real celebrities are interviewed and the names and book covers of Slim's books appear many times onscreen.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Scenes take place in bars and discuss drugs (heroin, cocaine) onscreen. Several people smoke onscreen; one coughs disgustingly, which parents can point out to kids and teens who may find smoking glamorous.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp is about a man who formerly made his living from prostitutes. The brutality and ugly aspects of this job are generally glossed over in the film in favor of praising the pimp's style and power. Interviewees chuckle indulgently as they talk about Iceberg Slim's life and that of the pimp in general, which sends a powerful and confusing message to the viewer, particularly when the film's words are illustrated with glamorous images of well-dressed men in fancy cars and suits. There is some cursing, including unbleeped four-letter words, and plenty of references to women as "bitches." An archival scene of Slim slapping a woman who falls to the ground is played repeatedly, and there is some discussion of beating women to "keep them in line" that seems unrepentant. Slim is a former heroin and cocaine addict and discusses this onscreen; viewers also hear that he spent all his ill-gotten gains this way. Interviewees also smoke onscreen. One hacks a smoker's cough as she lights up -- parents may want to point out the effects of smoking, if they allow older teens to watch this very iffy prospect at all. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Images of pimps as sharp-dressed, elegant strivers linger both in our culture and on-screen in this interesting, if troubling documentary. So that makes it easy to accept Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp as a harmless diversion that illuminates a little corner of our country's history. But parents may find this particular documentary more troubling than most historical looks back. Slim himself is presented more as an endearing oddball than a man who brutalized and subjugated women. Though he speaks candidly of drug abuse and beating women, far more time is spent rhapsodizing about fancy cars and the street cred a pimp enjoys. Thus parents may rightfully worry that this movie glamorizes prostitution and pimping.
Why are none of Slim's ex-prostitutes interviewed? What light would they have cast on this man and his past? Though interviews with Slim's ex-wife and three daughters, who seem to view their dad fondly and indulgently, do lighten things up somewhat, it's difficult to listen to Slim himself and celebrity interviewees glossing over the icky aspects of his ex-vocation. The movie becomes easier to watch when it turns to looking at Slim's later career as a writer; certainly an admirable turn for the man's life to take, even if he was writing books that romanticized and glamorized his ugly past -- hey, just like this movie!
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.