Obliquely racist labelling of Hustle & Flow is an irritant and a real problem. The always thoughtful and frequently fair-minded David Poland says the Paramount Classics film “still hasn’t made a strong move to crossing outside of being an ‘urban’ success” and that “the international market for black dramas is not strong.” The universal humanist chord struck by Hustle & Flow is so obvious and pervasive that calling it an urban black film is like saying Melissa Etheridge is first and foremost a blue-state lesbian singer, Nelson Mandella is first and foremost a black politician and Jesus of Nazareth was first and foremost a poor unemployed Jew. Obviously I am not calling Poland a racist, but he is passing along — indulging in — obliquely racist box-office pigeonholing by calling one of the few movies out there with a truly universal character and theme an “urban” movie or a movie for blacks. When we use shorthand to describe a film, we should not allude to the superficial packaging labels but the soul of it…the spiritual element it’s either trying to express or can’t help expressing in spite of itself. (By this standard Mr. and Mrs. Smith is not a light summer entertainment with explosions and lots of gunplay — it’s a foul vomitous thing that’s actually a lot closer to being a work of demonic possession than anyone is willing to admit.)