Video Review: Coolio & L.V. “Gangsta’s Paradise”

LouAnne Johnson (Michelle Pfieffer) walks down the hallway of a school. Coolio exhales smoke as he waits for her. She sits in the chair and asks him, “you wanna tell me what this is about?” Coolio sits across from her and talks to her about his life. She gets up of her chair and walks around him.

In a clip from the 1995 film, Dangerous Minds, Johnson places her feet on her desk while she grades papers.

L.V. raps as smoke swirls by him.

From the film, a student looks over Johnson in the classroom. Carrying her briefcase, she slams the door as she walks down the hallway. Emilio (Wade Dominguez) sells drugs to two of his classmates by a tree. Two young man fight by the school entrance. Two policemen arrest a student. Johnson runs up the car and tells them to stop.

Johnson stares at 10-year-old boy standing in front of her. She takes off his sunglasses.

From the film, a young woman sheds a tear as she sits at her desk. Johnson dances in class and laughs.

Johnson leaves the school.

Rating: 4/5

LouAnne Johnson returns to her classroom with some perspective. Coolio, a friend of one of her student’s, had requested a meeting with her. He had once been a student at the high school. Since dropping out, he had been in and out of jail. Sometimes, she saw him on the sidewalk on her way to work. However, he could help her. She was out of her element and he knew the neighborhood well.

Coolio advised her that she takes her privilege for granted. He says his friends are dying without anyone caring. They have run out of options. No one believes they have a future. She has to look past the stereotypes and get to know her students. He points out his little brother. His little brother is doing well in school. However, his little brother doesn’t dream of college. His teachers hadn’t encouraged him to ever try. He urges her to be the teacher who will respect her students and not give up on them.

Johnson quiets her class. She sits on her desk and talks to her students. She asks them about themselves. It floored her that some of them can’t afford food. Some support their parents. She takes a few aside and invites them over to her house for dinner. While she walks on the sidewalk, Coolio sees her and nods. She waves hello.

Director: Antoine Fuqua Year: 1995

Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit ,Greatest City Collective & 45 Magazine . Fevers of the Mind, and forthcoming in Daily Drunk Mag\'s Kirstofia anthology.

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