Role of the Gamma Rays?

In class, we only dived deep into gender roles in School Daze on one day. I’d like to keep that conversation going.

How are the Gamma Rays portrayed? What’s their role?

To start, the Rays resemble a sorority affiliated with the Gamma Men. However, it is unclear if the Gamma Rays are even a sorority– they seem more like groupies of the Gamma Men. The choice of naming the Rays “Gamma Rays” (instead of their own unique and independent name) also contributes to the idea that the Rays existed for the Gamma Men. On several occasions, Jane– as the face of gamma women– functions to simply enhance the masculinity of the Gamma men.

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Even in the erotic scene between Julian and Jane is filled with power dynamics, where Julian has a face of indifference and Jane displays her loyalty and subservience by licking his hair. Of course, the role of the Gamma women culminates in the “initiation” of Half-Pint. Julian values the masculine image of his fraternity more than the love from and body of Jane.


One thought on “Role of the Gamma Rays?”

  1. I believe that Spike Lee included the Gamma Rays in this film because he wanted to explore gender in the black community, but wasn’t sure exactly how to do so. However, we do see that in many ways, the male characters in the film base their identity off of how they treat female characters: the car ride scene we watched in class is an example of this. The scene of sexual violence at the end of the film is another. This is not the only reason Lee included the female counterpart to the Gamma Men in the movie however; through the dance scene between the Ws and the Js, he is at least acknowledging that women of color have issues of their own that stem from the intersection of their gender and race. He doesn’t delve as deeply into his female characters in this film, but he does begin to go beneath the surface. I think that this film could have been stronger if he tried to provide us with some answers to the tough questions he raises, as opposed to simply holding a mirror and letting the audience decide for themselves.


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