In episode 3 of Netflix series Trigger Warning with Killer Mike, Mike attempts to give Crips and Bloods an image makeover by turning each into a cola brand.
On the surface, “White Gang Privilege” has a lofty premise, but Killer Mike makes it all seem so normal. Granted, there are polarizing moments here and there on Trigger Warning with Killer Mike. For example, he begins the episode with the following Malcolm X quote:
“It’s impossible for a white person to believe in capitalism and not believe in racism.”
While capitalism itself isn’t merely a racially applicable concept, we can put that aside and address more of the episode’s specifics.
Kill Mike mentions how two notorious gangs, the Crips and the Bloods, are often considered worse than the Hell’s Angels biker gang. He notes, for example, that the Hell’s Angels (and other white gangs) can sue others for violating their brand. This is true. However, it’s not like Hell’s Angels members are never arrested for their criminal activities, and not everybody buys into and romanticizes their image (some of the late, great Hunter S. Thompson’s accounts come to mind). Still, Mike is right when he suggests that, if they can have a brand, so can the Crips and Bloods!
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He also humanizes people in these organizations, noting that not all Crips and Bloods are particularly dangerous. To prove it, he shows us some ambitious young Crips named Yayo, Murdo, and AC. It’s stated that they give kids backpacks sometimes. It’s fair enough, believable and commendable.
Improving the Crips brand
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike then asks these Crips for business ideas. One suggests selling buttons and zippers, as something everybody needs. Mike has an interesting idea, though. Why not give the Crips and Bloods their own unique brands of cola? He reasons that Coca-Cola has killed more people than Crips through obesity. That reasoning out if the way, Mike, Yayo, and Murdo consult John Delaigle, a loan officer. They argue that Yayo and Murdo’s organization is similar to a frat, but stumble a bit when asked what type of sales they’re in. Mike pipes in, saying they’re in the trailblazing part of Georgia. However, because they don’t have tax returns, they’re not likely to get a loan. With no support from the establishment, they head to a “trap house” to invent their cola. In little time, they perfect a recipe!
Crip-a-Cola is born!
Now that the Crips have a cola, they turn to graphic designer David Sizemore to come up with a flashy looking logo. After rejecting one logo for appearing “defeatist,” they finally find a look they’re comfortable with. So next it’s off to consult Sean Martin, former marketing EVP of Coca-Cola, who was involved in the “Be Like Mike” Michael Jordan campaign (among other things). When asked if they need to “clean up” public perception of the brand, Martin notes that a Confederate soldier started Coke and that it historically included cocaine. In other words, they don’t need to clean up the brand much (in fact, it could even benefit from having an “edgy” image). Martin even likes the distinctive and elegant logo.
The next stage is a focus group. According to Mike, this Crip-a-Cola is healthier than Coca-Cola. So, what does the focus group think? With a blind taste test, people seem to like it. However, they reach an almost inevitable question: Will people be shot for drinking Crip-a-Cola? The test group also associate the name “Crip” with negativity. As before, though, Mike is quick to argue that the Hell’s Angels have better PR. Another question is raised: Why can’t the drink bring people together?
Trigger Warning with Killer Mike then offers a well-known angle: American pop culture often supports the criminal or the underdog. Wall Street is a celebrated movie, as is Scarface (particularly for Al Pacino’s over-the-top performance). He also notes how Andrew Jackson is on the twenty dollar bill, despite having a negative reputation. Mike also gets into an argument with a panel member, who threatens to storm out when being called “racist.” However, things cool down when the panel gets to meet the Crips.
Because people don’t want to get shot for drinking Crip-a-Cola, Mike decides to meet with some Bloods, offering to make them a rival soda. Like with Crip-a-Cola, the resulting beverage — called Blood Pop — won’t use high fructose corn syrup, but pure sugar instead. With their own brand complete, they set up a booth at a farmer’s market. Some people get curious and try the drinks out, hinting at a possibility of success. Trigger Warning with Killer Mike further notes how, at least sometimes, Crips do turkey giveaways, and some Crips have PhDs. Fortunately, no one at the market is killed, and some businesses are willing to sell the colas.
Controversy rating: 2.2/10
Despite the subject of gangs like Crips, Bloods and Hell’s Angels, this episode was surprisingly (almost bizarrely) free of controversy. It was also entertaining, honest and refreshing. On that note, I am interested in one day trying some Crip-a-Cola or Blood Pop!
What do you think of Trigger Warning with Killer Mike? Let us know in the comments!