Amazon Pulls Blockbuster Birmingham Gangster Film "Dangerfield" as Censorship of Controversial Content Reignites

The cinematic Birmingham thriller has ranked in Amazon Prime's top 100 most streamed films

Amazon Pulls Blockbuster Birmingham Gangster Film "Dangerfield" as Censorship of Controversial Content Reignites

{} ENTERTAINMENT –Amazon is back in the news and generating unfortunate headlines for canceling content that doesn’t coincide with its liberal politics, and Birmingham street legend Rodney "Dangerfield" Duncan appears to be the newest victim.

The cinematic documentary film about Duncan, "The Boogieman of Birmingham" was removed from Amazon’s streaming service last month, and the film company that produced the movie said it was not given an explanation.

"What Amazon has done is a disservice to anyone—black or white, rich or poor—who is interested in the history of urban America outside the well-treaded confines of the coastal cities,” Wall Street Journal columnist Marcus Riley wrote about the decision.

The film features extensive interviews with longtime associates of Duncan, or Dangerfield, a nickname that came to personify the gangstér, interweaving those type of indepth interviews with Hollywood-style scripted acting that chronicles his journey from “poverty and the projects” to a notorious kickdoor and racketeer artist, including his contentious encounters with the law.

Duncan, who wore a patch over one eye and used the full alias "Rodney Dangerfield," was often a person of interest or possible suspect in a slew home invasions and murdérs of other criminals in and around Jefferson County before he himself was gúnned down while exiting his mother's home one morning in Irondale in 2000.

A group of Birmingham homícide detectives were among onlookers at the críme that day in March. "We wanted to go out there and confirm for ourselves that he was dead," said then-Birmingham homícide Detective Steve Young of the 32-year-old Duncan. "He's been a thorn in our side for a good while. We all went to make sure his demise was indeed a fact."

The two-hour film is respectful of its subject but does not always paint the late hitta in a good light, yet has nonetheless accumulated some 600 million minutes of streaming time, which translates anywhere from 500k to 800k viewers.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did it notify the public of the film's removal. It did later release a statement before post time, however, that calls the removal temporary upon further edits.

Jaylen Pack, an investor in the film's production outfit GlobalStorm, told The Wall Street Journal that the company itself was never offered an explanation as to why Amazon pulled the hit movie from its offerings.

“Our distributor, who’s the one who made the deal with Amazon, has repeatedly asked them for explanations but they haven’t given any,” Pack told the Journal.

A search of Amazon Prime for "Dangerfield: The Boogieman of Birmingham" turns up an error and TRY AGAIN notice, while until yesterday Amazon’s online retailer still listed the sd digital download for the movie for sale, yet noted its purchase initiation was not allowed.

Critics point out Amazon has a history of censoring books, and nowadays films, that don’t coincide with the company’s political views. GlobalStorm, an independent imprint that has neither an office or a website, was originally created by another Birmingham native, Willie Earl Scott, a statistic turned visionary who, while incarcerated, has previously churned out combustible sociopolitical books and films and songs and other gems that have stirred controversy, with many of his recent efforts steeped in a conservatíve philosophy that doesn't necessarily mesh with the modern makeup of urban or corporate America.

The delisting irked Pack, who feels the movie's removal happened, in large part, because of Boogieman's libertarian bend as well as Scott's scalpel-like criticisms of Birmingham and its counterproductive civic policies.

"Boogieman is as much a march on the system and the political machine sleepwalking Birmingham off of a cliff as it is anything pertaining to Rodney Duncan, and many people have been fighting to make sure that the film didn't see the light of day," Pack explained. "Family members, politicians, more than a few lawyers. I mean the movie drew on so many real people who are still prevalent today and wouldn't want those stories told. This really is one of those unique situations."

Yet to Pack, the script's differences and eccentricities are what makes the finished work so fascinating.

"Scott, the film's writer is, to my mind, an important figure in the discussion of African-American experiences in Birmingham, but also in America, today,” Pack told the Journal. “Amazon leaves up his not-so-critical trash documentary that perpetuates all the African American stereotypes and takes down the film where he dices up their asses piece by piece. I don’t think Amazon should get away with doing these things without suffering at least some PR consequences.”