1992 Los Angeles riots in popular culture

1992 Los Angeles riots in popular culture

This article lists examples of the ongoing influence on popular culture of the Los Angeles riots of 1992. For other uses, see Los Angeles in popular culture.


* Body Count released, a month before the riots, the notorious song Cop Killer, which was regarded by some as a precursor to the rioting.
* Ice Cube's song "We Had to Tear This Motherfucka Up" was written as a statement on the verdict and expressed sentiments similar to those of the rioters. Most of his 1992 release, "The Predator", was inspired by the riots and King, with constant allusions to the incident throughout. Ice Cube's song "Black Korea" on his 1991 album "Death Certificate" is a racist characterisation of South Korean store owners. The song reflected the tensions between Korean Americans and African Americans following the Latasha Harlins shooting. A year later, during the riots, Koreans and Korean-owned stores were a major target of rioters. On "Death Certificate", the Rodney King beating is mentioned, notably in a skit where a cop threatens a black man that he's going to "do you like Rodney King, Martin Luther King, and all the other goddamn Kings from Africa!"
* Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers rush-released a single entitled "Peace in L.A."
* In 1992, Branford Marsalis released the album "I Heard You Twice the First Time," which featured a song called "Simi Valley Blues," a reference to the city in which the trial of the four police officers was conducted. Although the beating took place in Los Angeles, the trial was held in the more-conservative Simi Valley, California, a decision that is thought to have resulted in the acquittal of the officers.
* Sublime's song entitled "April 29, 1992 (Miami)" is based on accounts of the riots.
*Dr. Dre's song "The Day tha Niggaz Took Over" references the riots. Snoop Dogg and RBX also feature on the song, portraying their emotions as the riots started.
* The title song on Porno for Pyros' self-titled debut album was inspired by the riots.
* The music video for the song Keep Ya Head Up by 2pac says in the beginning that it is dedicated to Latasha Harlins
* Downset song "Anger" from their self-titled debut album was inspired by the riots. The cover of the album also featured an image of South Central Los Angeles burning.
* Rage Against the Machine's second studio album, "Evil Empire", features Down Rodeo, a song about the LA Riots. Additionally, their third studio album was entitled "The Battle of Los Angeles".
* Billy Idol's 1993 song, "Shock to the System", from the "Cyberpunk" album, was directly inspired by the riots, including such lyrics as "You could be king/or I could be king".
* Bad Religion's songs "Recipe for Hate" and "Don't Pray on Me" (both off the album "Recipe for Hate") were influenced by the riots
* Tori Amos's clip for the song "1000 Oceans" recreated scenes from the L.A. riots. The film-clip was shot in L.A. and featured local actors who had lived through the riots.
* Rancid's song "I Wanna Riot" is based on the events.
* The Californian African American all-female group En Vogue released their anti-prejudice song "Free Your Mind" the year after the riots. It was a Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hit for them.
* The Machine Head album "Burn My Eyes" (1994) contains the song "Real Eyes, Realize, Real Lies", which features sampled commentary from news reports and interviews surrounding the riots.
* The Offspring's song "L.A.P.D." off the album "Ignition" is all about the Rodney King incident.
* Slayer and Ice-T collaborated on the song "Disorder", which appeared on the "Judgment Night" movie soundtrack. The song was a medley of 3 songs by the UK punk rock band The Exploited. The song "UK '82" (which dealt with police brutality) was renamed "LA '92".
* Aerosmith's song "Livin' on the Edge" from their 1993 album "Get a Grip" was inspired by the riots.
* Black Label Society's music video for the song "Fire it Up" off their 2005 release Mafia used extensive riot footage, much of which was from the '92 L.A. incidents.
* The Boo Radleys' 1993 album "Giant Steps" contains a song entitled "Rodney King (Song for Lenny Bruce)"
*One Minute Silence's song "Stuck Between a Rock and a White Face" from their album "Available in All Colors" features the happenings of April 29th
*Fear Factory's 1995 album "Demanufacture" was rehearsed and conceived in a particularly dangerous South Central neighborhood, right in the aftermath of the riots. In the remastered digipak edition of the album, it is explained that the tension and violence of riots were an inspiration to the album in general, from the aggressive music to the lyrical themes of corruption and revolt. Dino explains, "The owner had to write 'black-owned' on the front of the place, so people wouldn't destroy it. It wasn't exactly the best of areas to rehearse, but it definitely created a vibe."
* Los Angeles dance act LA Riots named themselves after the events in 1992.
* Garth Brooks had written his song, "We Shall Be Free," while watching coverage of the riots, on TV.
* A lyric in a rap song by MF Doom states "...then I hit 'em straight to the head like Reggie Denny"
*The Game mentions the riots on the song Never can say Goodbye,off the album L.A.X, rapping,"They thought my group influenced the L.A Riots", from the prospective of Eazy-E.
* Lucky People Center's song "Rodney King" contains a number of samples seemingly taken from US media during the riots.

* The 1991 film "Grand Canyon", which reflected on the divide between people of different race and class in L.A., was widely seen as a prefiguration of the riots, particularly in a scene with a white driver who was nearly carjacked by young black thugs, then rescued by a black tow-truck driver.
* Spike Lee's 1992 film "Malcolm X" opens with a scene of the Rodney King beating, juxtaposed with a burning American flag that burns down and forms the letter X.
*The 1992 documentary film "Post No Bills" follows a political poster that was made of LAPD Chief Daryl Gates on an NRA shooting target and glued up on the streets of Los Angeles after the Rodney King beating. This poster was also featured in the film "Menace II Society" as well as Robert Altman's "The Player". "Post No Bills" also includes an interview with Chief Gates about the poster and documents some of the events surrounding the resignation of Chief Gates from his position as Chief of Police.
* The 1992 Walter Hill film "Trespass", starring Ice T, Ice Cube and Bill Paxton, was a siege drama and unconnected to the LA riots, nevertheless had to have its original title of "Looters" changed, to avoid sensitivity and controversy - especially since Ice T and Ice Cube were residents of the area affected by the riots and based much of their raps on their locality.
* The 1994 film "Floundering" explores the alienation and disaffection the main character sees in his neighborhood of post-riot Venice Beach.
* The 1994 film "Reality Bites" depicts a television show under the name of "Wedgie, The World of Hip Couture" in which hostess Cheryl Goode talks about the "phattest gangsta trend." She stands at the intersection of Florence and Normandie, which was ground zero for the riots.
* The 1994 film "Fear of a Black Hat", a send-up comedy of gangsta-rap hip-hop, makes frequent satirical references to the 1992 riots, such as the members of the fictional rap band NWH gloating over an NWH shelf divider they find in the debris of a music store burned down in the rioting.
* "Sa-I-Gu" is a short 1993 documentary about Korean women affected by the rioting in Los Angeles in 1992.
*The 1997 film Riot is a look at the riots and their effect on the lives of four families: one Chinese, one Hispanic, one White, and one Black.
*In the 1998 film "BASEketball", the Los Angeles team is named after the riots.
*The 1998 film "American History X" has characters argue over the circumstances of Rodney King's arrest.
* The 2003 film "Dark Blue" is set during the riots, and reenacts several portions of it, as well as showing the two famous videos.
*The 2005 film "Rize (film)" was a documentary of life in Watts LA. It featured footage of the Watts Riot in it and also talked about much of the rioting. It also discussed the deaths of many gang members and African American citizens.
*The 2006 film "Bastards of the Party" briefly touched on the Los Angeles Riots.
*The 2006 film "The L.A. Riot Spectacular" narrated by Snoop Dogg and also starring Emilio Estevez, Charles Dutton and George Hamilton. This movie takes a satirical look at the riots.
*Writer/Producer John Ridley and director Spike Lee are attached to a proposed Imagine Entertainment film based on the L.A. Riots. [http://eurweb.com/story/eur30210.cfm]
*In the 1993 movie production, "Falling Down", Michael Douglas's character is shown to enter a Korean convenience store in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Los Angeles. An altercation occurs between Michael Douglas's character and the Korean store clerk, played by Michael Paul Chan, wherein the stereotypes of over-charge and lack of cultural assimilation by the Korean store owners is implied.
* The 2007 film Freedom Writers starred Hilary Swank as a school teacher in a Long Beach highschool two years after the riots. The movie opens with scenes of the riots, and is set two years after, in 1994.
* The 1993 movie production, "Demolition Man" depicts, in the opening scenes, a lawless Los Angeles and an over-the-top police officer who's defining characteristic is excessive force.


* The NBC drama "L.A. Law" seventh-season opener was set on the day of the riots.
* In the 1992-1993 season premiere of the NBC sitcom "A Different World", Dwayne and Whitley's Los Angeles honeymoon coincides with the riots. Rapper/activist Sister Souljah, Roseanne and Tom Arnold are among the guest stars.
* The fourth-season opener of the ABC sitcom "Doogie Howser, MD" was fully devoted to the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.
* The third-season opener of the Fox comedy series "In Living Color" focused on the L.A. riots, and subsequent third-season episodes featured skits focusing on the L.A. riots (example: "The L.A. Riots Anniversary Special" promo).
* An episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" saw Will Smith and the Banks family contributing to the post-riot clean-up, and pondering its implications.
* The third season episode of The Closer, starring Kyra Sedgwick, dealt with the discovery of a man who was killed during the riots.
* In a "MADtv" skit, when Bunifa Latifah Halifah Sharifa Jackson asked how his friend got his nice camera, he said, "the L.A Riots."
* The riots were mentioned in a summer 1992 episode of "Beverly Hills 90210", when it is revealed that Brandon Walsh's African-American boss at the Beverly Hills Beach Club had his store looted that previous spring.
* An episode from the second season of MTV's The Real World, which was filming in Los Angeles in 1992, shows some of the house-mates out for a day of playing basketball. A portion of the police perimeter forms near them, and officers in riot gear advise the house-mates to evacuate the area as the riots begin.


* Stage actress Anna Deavere Smith created a play, "", based on interviews with people about the riots.
* The spoken-word album "Everything" by Henry Rollins is a chapter out of his book "Eye Scream", which contains accounts of Rollins's life in LA during the riots as well as his opinions of the cops and the reaction of the residents.
* The posthumous Bill Hicks album "Arizona Bay" includes a sequence of stand-up routines about the L.A. Riots, Reginald Denny and the Rodney King trial. This routine is also featured on his UK albums: "Salvation" and "Live at The Oxford Playhouse".


* The Len Deighton novel "Violent Ward" (1993) is a detective mystery in the Raymond Chandler vein set against the background of the 1992 riots.
* Paul Beatty's novel "The White Boy Shuffle" features the main characters involvement in the riots, including an argument on the way to loot a computer store over the "merits of an IBM-compatible versus an Apple." [cite book
last = Beatty
first = Paul
authorlink = Paul Beatty
title = The White Boy Shuffle
publisher = Houghton Mifflin
date = 1996
location = Boston
pages = 134
isbn = 978-0312280192

Video Games

*The end missions in the game "" revolve around the acquittal of two extremely corrupt police officers. The acquittal causes riots in the city (Los Santos, heavily based on Los Angeles). The player can also use a cheat to turn on the riots at any point in the game. The game is set in 1992 like the actual riots.
*The Midway produced "" will feature a Los Angeles football team called "The Los Angeles Riots."


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