Crooklyn: Then and Now

Something I’ve often admired in Spike Lee’s films is the way he portrays Brooklyn. As somebody from Brooklyn, I find his depictions of Bed-Stuy to be beautiful. Crooklyn was my first Spike Lee joint. I remember watching it with my mother and siblings, and looking back, I think that my mother insisted on our watching it because it was relatable in many ways.


I couldn’t have been older than thirteen when I first saw the film, and so coming into this second screening, the only thing I really remembered was that it was about a girl growing up in Bed-Stuy, and that at some point she traveled down south. I’d forgotten most of the major plot points. However, in re-watching it, I remembered twelve-year-old me’s reactions to certain scenes, and realized that the ways in which I understood the film were vastly different than they are today. Something that completely went over my head was the comparison made between the north and south, and the importance of Troy’s hair as it changes through the film. I was more drawn to the funny scenes (such as the paint huffer scenes), or the fact that I could relate to growing up in a predominantly male house-hold with a very strong female figure at the helm. Back then, my brothers and I found it hilarious that many of Carolyn’s scenes from the first half of the film mirrored our mother’s discipline (“the Knicks got a job, you need an education boy. Ima throw this idiot box out the window…”). Now that I’ve seen the film a second time, it’s time to look back at my own childhood and analyze what that means.

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3 thoughts on “Crooklyn: Then and Now”

  1. Out of curiosity, do you feel like Lee’s depiction of Brooklyn reflects your own childhood or do you feel like this Brooklyn is one of the past?

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  2. The physical representation of Brooklyn doesn’t represent my childhood exactly. However, there are some things that don’t change, like the fact that there is a strong community amongst the kids from the neighborhood who play outside. The scene when Troy’s youngest brother runs after the older kids towards the end of the film shouting “wait for me!” reminded of the days when I’d bring my younger brothers out to play, and in a sense we’d become part of the “family” formed by the community of children out on that summer day.
    I’ve never been chased by a paint huffer before, and now, my neighborhood is being gentrified. My image of Brooklyn, I feel, is similar to the way Spike Lee portrayed it. However, I’m reminded every time I go home that my neighborhood is changing in many ways, and so my image is being left in the past.

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  3. Amal this is such a great post! I think that all movies deserve at leasts two viewings–the first to understand what you’re viewing and the second to experience it. Even with multiple viewings, I find myself forgetting plot content of films like what you experience, but I tend to remember the experience or the ways that that film affects me.
    There’s something about memory that goes well with video because it’s the marriage of two of our senses that can be simulated over and over again. And when the video is viewed after a long gap of time, the experience of watching the film is also met with the experience of feeling all of the experiences that you felt in the other gap of time the film is associated with.

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