In the 80's African-Americans introduced the concept of
time as an event, as in "our time has arrived" and "time
to get paid", meaning that the goals they had worked for had come
to fruition. The African-American "rapper", Flava-Flav, one
of the performers in the "rap" ensemble Public Enemy, went
so far as to wear an oversized clock around his neck to emphasize this
In a satirical twist, Keane turns this paradigm on its head, substituting
Caucasian children for "ganstas". Billy and his friends look
innocuous enough, but remember the importance of color when looking
at art. Billy's predominant color is red. His two friends share the
color blue. Obviously, they are representatives of rival Los Angles
gangs the Crips, whose color was blue and the Bloods who favored red.
Billy, heavy-lidded and giving off cavalier attitude speaks directly
to the leader, the boy in the blue shirt, arms crossed in disappointment.
Whose "turf" the boys are meeting on is unclear. What is clear,
however is that Billy is "laying down" the new power structure
to the Crips (blues). The writing is some of the most powerful and effective
of Keane's career. Using the allegory of "time" in one short
sentence he manages to convey not only that the power has shifted ("if
anybody needs to know the time", but whom it has shifted to ("I'm
wearin' my new watch). One scholar claims that this line is directly
lifted from the "gangsta" movie "Straight Out Of Compton",
but this has not been verified.
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