Just some thoughts I had from conversation about Spike Lee handling spaces that are not his home New York City. From Chi-Raq to Levees, there is always critique of Lee when handling places that do not resemble his Brooklyn upbringing.
This article is old, but discusses am upcoming documentary on racial politics (assumingly) in Brazil that Lee is directin at the moment. It is set to release this year. I was wondering about people’s thoughts on how Spike Lee treats other places and, if yes, how does that treatmwnt further a particular directorial agenda?
Spike Lee’s Joints isn’t the only class I had the…ahem, pleasure, of watching Chi-Raq. I had to watch it again for Greek Drama after we had read Lysistrata by Aristophanes. As a friendly reminder, Lysistrata is what Chi-Raq is based on. Heck, it’s the play Lysistrata’s (our protagonist) namesake comes from. However, there are glaring differences between Aristophanes’ farce and Spike Lee’s satire.
The use of gender as a vehicle for comedy is the most glaring.
In the traditional Greek theater, all characters on stage were played by men. When men dress as women on the Greek stage, women are amounted to parodies. Lysistrata is a joke of the impossible. Women? Stopping wars? Now that’s a joke. And to be quite honest, the women of Lysistrata do not make a vow to abstain from sex to stop a war.
The women make the vow to have their husbands stop fighting so they can come back to them. The reasons of celibacy is still heavily dependent on the need for a man’s presence. Unlike Chi-Raq where Lysistrata’s anthem of “no peace no pussy” is for more valiant efforts such as protecting young children from the gunfire of gang violence, Aristophanes’ Lysistrata just wants her man back in the house.
How interesting it is, then, for Lee to make an attempt at making a comedy that within it’s very structure pokes fun at the ineptitude of women to create a piece (no pun intended) that has women as the seemingly most motivated characters of his film. Chi-Raq falls short, however, in making a definite line between making a joke of the bodies and minds of black women and crediting their success. It is clear in Lysistrata that women are the punchline (it would have been outrageous in Greek culture for women to have any agency), but in Chi-Raq? Still debatable.
The appearance of the “gun” in Chi-Raq is more than just an object but a central character to the film’s politics of power. The arc of the “gun” begins with it’s birth and ends with it’s death. As part of the film’s introduction, audience members view a map of the United States of America constructed by different types of guns; this suggests the “birth” of the gun’s story line, the power it will hold for the film, and foreshadows the violence of not only Chicago, but all of the United States. In Father Mike’s sermon, he states “the gun began [a] professional career,” suggesting its sentience and potential to grow. However, we see the downfall of Gun and his “colleagues” at the very end of the film, a pile of guns sitting on display as the community reaches peace, reminiscent of a mass grave of corpses.
Crooklyn continues to strike a chord with me. The neighborhood Troy lives in very much parallels my own Bronx home. I remember the stoop games, the fire hydrant popped open on a hot summer day, the elders at the front of the bodega playing their hundredth game of dominoes.
And I remember when my stepdad died. Continue reading “And I Am Mourning: Crooklyn and the Eulogy I Never Gave You”
Hey crew! Sorry about the lateness, Indidn’t gauge how busy I was going to be these last couple of days. Here is the Eval Roll Call (on top of evaluating another blog’s posts! Please just comment with a link to the post your evaluating from another blog below).
If you don’t have someone, please look at who does not have an eval yet!
Nicholas assessing Ali (SLJ4); Elijah (SLJ2)
Janna assessing Marquez
Thomas G. assessing Emerson
Amal assessing Iris
Iris assessing Janna
Skye, Marquez, Heru, Rachel assessing Joint Project by: Thomas M., Dani, Nisaa, Nicholas
Dani and Thomas M. assessing Joint Project by: Heru and Amal
Emerson assessing Thomas G.
Skye assessing TBD
I had mentioned in a previous blog post about expanding on why I chose to do my midterm as a vlog than writing some form of an analysis, and maybe even expanding more on the complex relationship I am creating with School Daze and Tongues Untied.
Here is that expansion!
I am really trying to learn to be more articulate when explaining my ideas. I have trouble in the classroom sometimes; my talking points become tangential or, as it often happens, I can visualize what I am saying but cannot find the right words to explain myself. So, I wanted to put myself to test and really practice the way I speak about my thoughts. I think it’s especially hard to talk about a subject (in this case, sexuality and blackness) that you are still exploring, so I tried it out and hopefully it worked out
I am still thinking about this violence that grows in the institial space of blackness and homosexuality that both School Daze and Tongues Untied create, not only in it’s content, but the way the two films are filmed and directed. I touched upon it in my vlog, the jarring nature of the cuts and overlapping sound in Tongues Untied or the language of intimidation that is inherently homophobic in School Daze. I wanted to tie my thoughts together a little bit before I finally squash this topic, but please comment with any thoughts! I’m still trying to figure it out myself.
Look forward to a part 2 sometime this week, talking about the choice for doing a vlog instead of a write-up and still trying to unload the complexity of these films.
I also encourage everyone to please comment below and start a dialogue! Maybe even responding in video format would be cool, too! I want this to be as engaged as possible. This is a continuous conversation that doesn’t stop here.