Dope: Challenging Stereotypes and Striving for Success

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 991 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Words: 991|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa, the lives of three teenage friends living in an unfavorable neighborhood are explored as they strive for a better future. The movie challenges stereotypes by depicting its main character, Malcolm, and his friends Diggy and Jib as intelligent and defiant non-white students with aspirations that extend beyond their current circumstances. Malcolm dreams of attending Harvard and achieving success in his future career. However, his dreams are threatened when he discovers drugs in his school backpack after attending a birthday party. The film encourages viewers to consider the choices individuals make and the potential consequences of those choices.

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The movie begins by defining the word "dope," which has multiple meanings including a foolish person, drugs, and something cool. This sets the stage for the range of emotions that will be evoked throughout the film. Malcolm, a shy and high-achieving student, is preparing his Harvard application and presents his essay on Ice Cube's "Today Was a Good Day" to his school advisor. The advisor suggests he write something more personal, but Malcolm insists on keeping his creative work. As the movie progresses, viewers witness Malcolm's growth and changing perspectives on life and the application process.

Malcolm and his friends face ridicule and humiliation in their predominantly black high school in Inglewood, California. Malcolm becomes infatuated with a girl named Nakia, but she is dating Dom, a street gangster and drug dealer. Dom invites Malcolm to his birthday party, and despite the risks involved, Malcolm agrees in order to see Nakia again. However, the party ends in chaos, with Dom's arrest and Malcolm discovering drugs, a gun, and a phone in his backpack the next day. From that moment on, Malcolm and his friends are determined to rid themselves of the drugs and salvage their lives and reputation.

One notable scene in the movie occurs when Malcolm interviews with Harvard alumnus Austin Jacoby. To Malcolm's surprise, he learns that Jacoby, also known as AJ, is the intended recipient of the drugs. AJ denies any involvement in the drug incident, placing the responsibility on Malcolm to resolve the situation. AJ informs Malcolm that if he does not sell the drugs before their next interview, he will not receive a recommendation to Harvard. Malcolm seeks the help of a computer hacker named Will Sherwood to sell the drugs online. They enter a Google Science Fair project to gain access to their school laboratory and conduct transactions using the computer class, receiving payments in Bitcoins. Eventually, they successfully sell all the drugs. When Malcolm confronts Jacoby again, he uses blackmail to ensure his acceptance into Harvard.

In the end, Malcolm revises his application essay to focus on two students: a successful band member who receives straight A's and a student who must resort to immoral means to make money. He poses the questions, "Why do I want to go to Harvard? If I were White, would you even ask that question?" These questions highlight the themes of racial discrimination and stereotypes present throughout the film. The director, Famuyiwa, aims to showcase that people of color are often forced to take alternative paths due to limited opportunities and societal biases.

The film challenges stereotypes by portraying Malcolm and his friends as geeks who aspire to attend Harvard. Gazi argues that labeling these characters as geeks questions their authenticity as black individuals. Despite being part of a black community, they have interests that set them apart from others, leading to rejection from their own racial group. This highlights the theme of being a minority within a minority. Malcolm and his friends face mockery and social isolation, forcing them to choose between conforming or fighting for their own happiness. Malcolm chooses the latter, utilizing the drug situation to his advantage and using his intelligence to achieve success.

While watching the film, one may wonder why Malcolm did not simply turn the drugs over to the police and avoid the subsequent events that unfolded. However, if Malcolm and his friends had approached the police with the drugs and gun, they would have likely been immediately arrested due to the racial stereotypes imposed by white society. Malcolm is compelled to become a drug dealer in order to protect himself and his friends, even though he goes about it in an unconventional way. The film intentionally portrays Malcolm as an antihero to demonstrate the limited opportunities and biases faced by people of color in modern society. His statement, "if I were white," emphasizes the ongoing issue of racial discrimination.

There is one scene in the film that encapsulates the director's message. Malcolm visits Jacoby and delivers a portion of the money, promising the rest upon his acceptance into Harvard. He then revises his application essay, once again highlighting the issue of racial discrimination and stereotypes. In this final scene, Malcolm reveals that he can only achieve success by resorting to the same blackmail and illegal methods that Jacoby employs. Jacoby is respected as a businessman and Harvard graduate, but he is also a drug dealer who uses others to do his dirty work. Malcolm, initially a reluctant participant in the drug trade, is forced to adopt similar tactics to secure his future.

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In conclusion, the film Dope challenges stereotypes and explores the lives of three non-white teenagers striving for a better future. The movie highlights the limited opportunities and societal biases faced by people of color, particularly in regards to education and career prospects. Through the character of Malcolm, the film emphasizes the importance of individual choices and the potential consequences that stem from them. Malcolm's journey showcases his growth and changing perspectives on life as he navigates through difficult circumstances. Ultimately, the film encourages viewers to consider the systemic issues of racial discrimination and the alternative paths that individuals may be forced to take in order to achieve success. By challenging stereotypes and depicting intelligent and defiant non-white characters, Dope serves as a thought-provoking and impactful exploration of race, identity, and the pursuit of one's dreams.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Dope: Challenging Stereotypes and Striving for Success. (2024, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 25, 2024, from
“Dope: Challenging Stereotypes and Striving for Success.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2024,
Dope: Challenging Stereotypes and Striving for Success. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Feb. 2024].
Dope: Challenging Stereotypes and Striving for Success [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 12 [cited 2024 Feb 25]. Available from:
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