Spike Lee Joints are known for jettisoning issues that affect Black people to the forefront of pop culture consciousness.
Spike’s strategic navigation of the intersection of activism and entertainment is so deft that his film titles and stills are easily recognized as pre-modern hashtags and memes; often finding their way into the popular lexicon in permanent association with the tackled issue. Jungle Fever, Do The Right Thing, Baby Baby Please?
Two weeks ago the trailer for Chi-Raq, Spike Lee’s modern adaptation of Aristophanes Greek Comedy Lysistrata, was released. The film imagines the potential affect of Chicago’s Black women withholding sex until their male companions commit to stop participating in gang/gun violence.
In an era where social network posts and feeds have replaced water coolers and break rooms, the trailer did not fail to uphold Spike Lee’s tradition for the controversial.
Whether being criticized as exploitative for making light of the very tragic situation in Chicago or inspiring some Black women to close their legs for variable wants, the trailer sparked action and dialog. Spike Lee even released a second trailer to participate and bring clarification to the discussion.
About a week ago, this was Spike Lee’s moment as he prepared to receive his honorary Oscar and call Hollywood to task for the lack of diversity in the film industry.
“This industry is so behind sports, it’s ridiculous, It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than to be the head of a studio. Honest. Or the head of a network. Everybody here probably voted for Obama, but when I go to offices, I see no black folks, except for the brother man who is the security guard who checks my name as I go into the studio.”
That was before Paris. Lately the conversation about the trailer and more importantly the issue Chi-Raq explores gave way to reactionary posts pointing out the media’s race based hypocrisy to mass tragedy. The rabid reaction rose to a distasteful din of discontent when comparisons were made between tragedies instead of the coverage and compassion was trivialized or worst charged as racial treason. Personally I stand in solidarity with the oppressed, orphaned and victimized whether in Kenya, Nigeria, Paris, Clichy-sous-Bois, or Chicago. Others it seems continue to miss the content for the click bait and become consumed with a mob mentality that does more to thwart rather than insure change. Some of the same ones who champion freedom of expression or double binding justice or racial equality on campuses got distracted by their own thirst for contention.
Tell me whats more effective, condemning your friend’s “Pray for Paris” post or actually doing something impactful to graphably improve the murder rate in Chicago?
Its justified to be angered that we don’t always control the headline or narrative but the take away that I glean from the Chi-Raq trailer is we always have the means to control our destiny especially if we approach the issue strategically.
Chi-Raq opens in theaters on December 4th, 2015
Related articles across the web