Spring Breakers was released to a wave of mostly positive criticism last week, although some were less enthused. The film plays with a lot of heavy, controversial material, poking at (and, arguably, indulging in) issues of race, sexism, sexuality and our fascination with violence. Whether or not it is saying something about these issues—as opposed to using them for box-office bait—has been a central point of contention surrounding the film.
Another controversy regarding the film was James Franco's character, Alien. Initially, rapper Riff Raff claimed to have been the inspiration for Allen, a caucasian rapper with a penchant for flashy clothing. Franco denied it, claiming that his character was instead modeled on an obscure Florida street rapper named Dangeruss, whom the actor had, in fact, shadowed to prepare for his role.
But even Dangeruss, who we interviewed earlier this year, had to admit that Franco's appearance seemed at least inspired by Riff Raff: "See, the way James’ appearance is in the movie, you can’t really dispute that that’s kind of Riff Raff’s style. He got the braids, I got big dumb dreads. Dreads is a lion in the jungle type shit. He had braids, which is like a deer."
At the time, we were struck by what Dangeruss described as Spring Breakers' director Harmony Korine's motivation for basing Franco on Dangeruss: "He said he was looking for that authentic—he kept using the word, authentic—he didn’t want a fake version. He wanted the real deal, he saw the tattoos, he saw the people that was in the videos with me, and he could tell that it was 100 percent real."
We already know that RiFF RAFF isn't terribly ecstatic about Spring Breakers, so we decided to get Dangeruss' side of the story. Warning: This interview contains spoilers, as well as a few casual N-bombs from a Caucasian.
Interview by David Drake (@somanyshrimp)
What was your first reaction to the film?
I saw it twice. I liked it better the second time I saw it. The first time I was a little throwed off. I didn’t think it was a bad movie, I was just throwed off by some of the parts, man. It was weird. It was a weird movie, man, but it was a good movie. I enjoyed it.
I heard a lot of bad reviews about it before I went and saw it, but that was before it really came out nationwide. Now I’m hearing a lot of good reviews about it. Definitely a different kind of movie. I liked it. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback on it. Like I said, it wasn’t based on my life exactly. It was an inspiration-thing, me being a gangster type of dude.
I was throwed off by him sucking on them guns, though. They shouldn’t have did that to the nigga, man. That’s cold. Him suckin’ them guns like a dick. That shit there was crazy. I was like this nigga here is trippin’.
When Alien first bails the characters out of jail and tells his story, it sounded like he was telling your story.
Yeah they took that part from my life and used it. He was like, "I had a hard life, and I rap and I got a song called 'Hanging with the Dope Boys,' check it out on YouTube." It was an amazing fucking plug. That was a hell of a plug for me. But that part right there definitely seemed like it took me and incorporated it.
Do you feel like the film was trying to be authentic? Did it succeed?
I feel like it was trying to be authentic to an extent. It did touch that authentic feel. It still wasn’t like where-I-come-from authentic. The way he looked, the way he acted was a little different. But the way he was living was more authentic. It seemed like... where I come from, man—you see me in the movie, I wasn’t in there majorly, but when you seen us in the game room, shooting pool and all that, that’s me. That’s where I’m from.
The character Faith, played by Selena Gomez, freaks out when she’s in that pool hall. A friend said to me, “that's racist,” because she freaks out in the pool hall, but not when she's surrounded by white guys in jock straps drinking.
I don’t think it had anything to do with anything racial at all. If you put somebody in a house with a puppy, they’re going to feel comfortable because the puppy’s not a threat. You put them in the house with a fuckin’ tiger, they’ll be like, 'Shit, I don’t wanna be here. The tiger might attack me.' These motherfuckers is dangerous, you know what I’m saying? That’s how I look at it.
Riff Raff's doin all this cryin' about the inspiration for this character. He was an inspiration for part of James' character. I was the inspiration as a gangster and a rapper. He was the inspiration for him sucking on them pistols.
The area we was in was a threatening area. They touched on that and brought that to life. The hood is a scary place when you’re not from there. When you go to an area like that and there’s motherfuckers getting killed over $15, $20. Actually getting their life taken. It puts fear in people that’s not from there, that don’t understand it. As opposed to if you go to the suburbs, a motherfucker might give you $20. I like how they touched on that. It wasn’t no race thing with Selena, I think that’s how any white girl from a suburban area would be if they were thrown into a scenery like that in real life.
What did you like the most about the movie?
For a comedic aspect, I thought James Franco did a couple scenes that were pretty hilarious. Like how he was playing the piano and shit, I thought that was funny. My favorite scene is probably when Gucci was walking through the club and he pulled up his shirt and had a gun on his hip. And Franco looked at him like, “guess what?,” and when he lifted his shirt up he had two guns on his hip. Everybody in the audience was like—they got kinda crunk on that part, like “Yeah bitch!" Or "Fa sho!” So that was probably my favorite part.
Was there a part you were most uncomfortable with? Other than him sucking on the silencer.
Yeah, he did that a little too well, on top of doing it at all. That’s my nigga though. But I would have left that out.
The part I liked the least was, by far, the ending. The ending, to me, was terrible. I don’t know if they were trying to make it kind of funny or what. But that was the most unrealistic ending I could ever have imagined to see. These fuckin’ two girls walk up with max ammo, like Call of Duty, like a never-ending clip, you know what I’m saying? They got like a thousand rounds and they’re just shooting motherfuckers. There’s niggas running up, 25 dudes with guns, but they don’t get shot once. They’re not even running or ducking; they’re just walking through, just shooting everybody like crazy. I didn’t like that part. It was very unrealistic.
They should have at least had one of them get shot in the hand or something. I mean, these guys are running up with guns, but they’re not pulling the trigger until the girl gets to them. They just walk in, shoot the guy. The other guy’s standing there with a gun, but it’s like he’s waiting there to get shot. I didn’t like that part. That part to me was very unrealistic.
Do you think he was trying to say something with that?
I don’t know what the fuck he was thinking. On top of that, c’mon, man, they’re riding up on a speedboat glowing in the dark. You don’t think these motherfuckers can hear the speedboat or see them coming? You know what I’m saying? Like, yeah, let’s go rob these motherfuckers in the brightest shit we can find. But it’s a movie, a movie is a perception of what your reality is. That’s what Harmony saw, that’s why it’s a movie. That shit would never happen in real life. Just the fact that they walked up killing everybody at the end, it was a little cheesy. That’s the only thing I didn’t like, that and him sucking on them guns. Other than that I thought it was a good movie.
What do you think the difference is between a movie and rap music like the kind you perform? You wouldn’t have something like that in a rap song.
Not at all. The music is more real. The music is not what I think the hood is like, I’m talking about what’s really going on, what I seen, what people see every day. A movie is more like, OK, these people aren’t from that era, this is what they think it might be like. What they’ve heard. More cliche. I talk about what is really happening. People hear my lines and they’re like, 'Damn, I seen that shit yesterday, I know exactly what they’re talking about. I do that every day.' That’s the difference to me.
Make sure you put in there that Franco did an amazing job. I think Franco did an amazing job. So did the girls, too. Franco did a hell of a job, because he’s a whole different kind of guy than the character he plays. For him to go that far out of his element, he did a good job.
What do you think of Riff Raff's concerns about the film?
Riff Raff's doin all this cryin' about the inspiration for this character. He was an inspiration for part of James' character. I was the inspiration as a gangster and a rapper. He was the inspiration for him sucking on them pistols like dicks.
Also, check out more on Spring Breakers on Complex TV's The Lego Stories below.