What do we do when we see someone stumble? As for me, when it happens, I first hope that they’re okay (or at least I believe this about myself :B). Then, provided they are unharmed, I hope to laugh together with the person at what we both know was visually amusing. I apply this to my skateboarding falls/fails. Falling is an occupational hazard when one does something that requires balance. Standing and walking are the same. Conversation and dialogue are analogous. Especially here at Amherst, we are unfortunately trained to capitalize on someone’s stumbles as opposed to giving them a helping hand or even laughing together with them.
John (our Professor) commented that he believes one can view School Daze as a movie about questions, where Do The Right Thing would be a movie about answers. I agree with the former assertion, and further assert that every Lee film I’ve seen so far is about questions in a very important way. The following may be an oversimplification, but I believe that we would not be capable of having such substantive dialogues about his films if they weren’t about questions.
One may agree or disagree with someone’s statement, especially when it is perfectly obvious what that statement is. This happens often in conversation (whether it is voiced or not is another issue). But, in my experience, conversations where there is deep mutual respect and learning are driven by questions. I call a conversation of this nature “dialogue.”
We have been conducting dialogue at a consistent and highly effective level in our class. If Lee’s goal is to get people to participate in dialogue on these particular subjects, then he has succeeded. As I mentioned in my comment on Nicholas’ blog post “Continuing the discussion on homophobia in School Daze,” Lee may very well be clumsy. But if he has effectively given us a mirror, does it matter that he may have stumbled here and there in his attempt? I would also appreciate a conversation about where people believe Lee stumbles. As an artist, it might be an intentional stumble. Let’s talk it out.