Chi-Raq: Satire? Exploitative? Both? – Part 2

Our class conversations over the past few weeks, both on Chi-raq and 4 Little Girls, have led me to think deeper about Chi-raq. Before, I felt that my beef with the film was on the grounds of Lee’s intention. Now I feel like more of the film was satire than I gave it credit for—with Chi-raq Lee has come to a point where he feels like there are fewer and fewer ways to get his point across that there are not many options for black people in America. We are past the point of looking to the establishment for help. In some ways, despite its failed satirical aspects (or perhaps because of them), the film reads as a cry for the black community (and America) to turn their eyes to Chicago because there is no way to make sense of what is going on on the South side.

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 8.13.35 PM
Chi-raq, although a satire, has some very serious and heartbreaking moments.

I thought that our conversation in class about Chi-raq essentially being two films was very interesting, and I agree. Perhaps it was because Lee knew that he had to convey the gravity of the situation in Englewood clearly so that all was not lost in the satire. I definitely plan to re-watch this film (even though I’m not necessarily looking forward to it—it was one of the hardest films to watch I’ve encountered this semester), so I can come closer to forming a full opinion on it.

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2 thoughts on “Chi-Raq: Satire? Exploitative? Both? – Part 2”

  1. Great post! I would also caution against viewing the film with satire as the primary lens; a lot of the scenes throughout the film contain immense weight and gravitas, but they are very subtle in their construction. I posted about a couple of those scenes over the last two days and I hope that you do watch the film again with an eye out for those small, yet crucial, moments (I recognize the difficulty though, it’s a tough film to stomach).

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  2. For some reason, I grappled with what to do with the satire found in Chi-Raq as well. I certainly share your sentiment in thinking that his satire was intentional, and that its failure had a profound impact on shaping the way we think about Chicago in today’s context. However, I want to believe more in his intention to fail at this satire more so than his failure that resulted in an ignorance in using satirical forms. Partly what reinforce my faith in Lee stems from simply being awe-inspired by the list of productions Lee has produced. The long list of films we saw on IMBD in class is only a testament to the breadth of creativity and idea generation that Lee is capable of. I may be giving too much credit to Lee, but I would honestly rather do that than to think that he made a mistake in producing this film.

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