The Fractures of De-La

During De-la’s interview with a black radio host, Spike Lee employs a shot reverse structure that actively and aggressively violates the 180 degree rule of cinema.Throughout the interview, Spike situates the characters at opposing ends of the frame in order to establish a visual conversation. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 11.35.17 AM

Here, we can see that Spike places the Radio host on the left side of the frame and Pierre on the right: a classic, over the shoulder “shot-reverse-shot” structure. Yet, as the scene progresses between cross-cuts of “Man-Tan” and the reality outside of the studio, the camera proceeds to jump the 180-degree line that has established the spatiality of the radio host and Pierre onscreen (See image below).

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 11.35.37 AM

By continuously flipping the orientation of these two characters, Spike captures the sentiment of those that disagree with Pierre and Man-Tan (“You have been called a traitor, an Uncle Tom, a sell-out. You have even been called the Clarence Thomas of network television.”) By presenting two sides of the interview, the viewer can also observe two sides of Pierre as a character; as a Harvard-educated, uptight black television writer, Pierre lives in a constant state of double-consciousness that places him directly between his white superiors and his black peers. While defending the importance of his show — which aims to disrupt and dismantle the slave-mentality of the Black-American through satire — it seems that Pierre has forgotten the original purpose of Man-Tan: to release him from this contract. Somewhere along the way, culminated in this scene, Pierre has deepened the fracture of his being, producing a third split that seems “other” to both black and white America.

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Author: marquezdoee

Amherst Class of 2016. Media Studies Major. Katy Perry Enthusiast.

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