Troy as a Carefree Black Girl

Troy is the first female character in a Spike Lee film that isn’t one dimensional, or stereotypical. For me Troy offered something different. And as a little girl Troy possessed a quality of rebellion and unapologeticness that many of his older women characters were lacking. I think it is interesting to take a look at how troy impacts the other women/girl characters in Crooklyn. In my opinion the most visibly and notably impacted woman she impacted upon her encounter with them was her cousin Viola. Although troy had to make some changes to her physical (her hair) in order to please her aunt she changed the women around her much more. From the very beginning of the time she stays with her family down south she is herself and doesn’t compromise that. I remember her aunt leaving the two girls in the room after she sends them to bed after prayer and as she shuts the door Troy begins jumping on the bed. This may seem like a minor and typical action to many but it was powerful because she got her cousin Viola to laugh and engage in it, although that typically wasn’t in Viola’s interest and personality for her to do. Viola’s mother was obsessed with making Viola always seem so poised, elegant and mature, that it is as if she was losing out on her childhood, Troy being there with her that summer and being unwittingly herself gave Viola back that. We see that in the scene where the two are riding on a bike through the neighborhood and playing with the neighbors dog on the lawn. Troy reached Viola the art of being a carefree black girl.

who is to blame?

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In Chiraq spike lee really focuses in on the conditions of the, urban center of Chicago particularly focusing on gun violence and murder. Throughout the film lee glazes over what actually causes these conditions in the communities where they occur. He sometimes alludes to systematic and institutional racism but never really delves deep into these ideas in the film. Lee then further complicates this idea of responsibility and who or what is to blame for these socio-economic conditions at the end of the film when the main character. Chiraq confesses to committing the accidental murder of Irene’s 11-year-old daughter and in an ending scene he begins to recite the lyrics of a song. As Chiraq walks down the aisle of the church there are praise dancers dancing in white behind him. The lyrics talk about gang and community members making change where they live and taking accountability for their own lives and actions. The significance of the praise dancers dressed in white dancing during his soliloquy is that they are affirming his message. The fact that praise dance is religious and they are dressed in white, a color associated with purity, good energy and cleansing affirms that Chiraq is doing the “right thing”. This sequence says to me that the conditions of Chicago are brought on by the people who live there, themselves as opposed to the conditions of violence and poverty being a result of a system. A system that fails to provide the urban centers of the world with adequate resources and opportunity, and so as a result poverty and violence are spawned. With this movie ending on that note I don’t really know how spike views this influx of violence limited to urban centers. I’m not sure if he deems it the fault of the people who inhabit these spaces or if he alludes is to system that is failing them. So the question that remains to me from the point of view as the audience for this film based on what spike has provided us with, is who is to blame.

Get on the bus together

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I think this notion of togetherness is one that is often present in Lee films. I find this is especially true with race, gender and sexuality in his films, because the films that he creates fall well within the genre of realism. In the world outside of Lee films, people of all races, genders (and people who do not conform to gender) and sexualities are forced to coexist and inhabit the same spaces and as a result this is something that Lee often carries over into his work. The “together” in the excerpt for me doesn’t describe unity, collaboration, consensus or even solidarity; in fact it describes the involuntary act of coexistence among many who are different.

 

I found this to be true in the Film get on the bus. The film itself takes place on a bus filled with black men. They are headed to the million-man march. A march where, hundreds of thousands, of black men gather in Washington, DC, to hear Farrakhan speak. The purpose of attending this march for many is to talk about the advancement of the black race. The bus acts, as a safe haven for the black men in many instances, because anytime they exit the bus or someone who is not a black man boards the bus there is turmoil. This is true in the scene where they get off the bus “in the middle of nowhere” at a majority white diner and upon the entrance, you can feel the racial tension, between the black men who were on the bus and the white men at the diner. Especially in the scene where smooth (Everett Jr.) is talking about the march to the white men, explaining it to them in a way that is unapologetic and some might even consider brash. This turmoil is prevalent again when the bus is stopped by police officers and they board the bus in search of drugs and anything suspicious. Gary who is a police officer in California, steps forward in an attempt to mitigate the situation, to no avail. These men share the same identity in term of race and gender and so in that regard they are together, but things go awry when Flip, one of the men on the bus finds out another one of the men on the bus is gay, he taunts him, degrades and bigots him the entire bus ride, with slurs and crude comments. This is where they are not together; unity does not exist in places where parts of their identities do not correlate.

 

I think Lee wants us to take from this that the world is made up of people who are different. Even though we cannot all relate on one accord, I think he wants us to recognize that we are all still here inhabiting the same spaces weather we want to or not. There is no escape from the togetherness of coexistence, so while we are here we should learn to if not love each other, accept each other despite our differences.

Sororities and Fraternities In School Daze

schooldazeI think sororities and fraternities play a very interesting role in the film School Daze. Historically becoming involved with sororities and fraternities is a way to gain power and social status over others.In School Daze in particular, sororities and fraternities are used as an instrument by black people against other black people to explore and express superiority. Although Mission College is clearly an all black college, frat life is a manifestation of whiteness on this campus. We see this in the film  many times,  but I specifically want to focus on the scene in the hair salon with the Js and the Ws, although Rachel crew isn’t necessarily  sorority it still shares the same qualities of Sisterhood and strength in numbers. In this musical scene,   the two groups go back and forth calling each other slurs and insults, slurs/insults that you would normally hear from someone of a different race. A particular quote that I took a liking to, to prove my point regarding power dynamic, is when Jane Says “You’re a wannabe, want to be better than me” to Rachel. This to me perfectly illustrates the fight for power between the two groups because each of them want to represent the next elite uprising of the black race.

Double dolly shot and the outer body experience

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The double dolly shot I chose to focus on was the shot from Mo Better Blues Where Bleek and Clarke are having sex in his apartment, this scene is one that makes the audience feel just as bleak does specifically feelings that are daze like, euphoric and dizzy and I think this particular double dolly scene was really meant to heighten those emotions.

Most of Lee’s Double dolly shot are head on angles but this particular one was unique in that it was 360 degrees. I think the 360 double dolly technique in this particular scene creates this sort of removed feeling from what is going on in real time. Similar to how people feel when they’re sexually engaged. It can seem as though nothing and no one exists during intimacy.

The reason that I chose this scene as opposed to the many other double dolly scenes lee has orchestrated during his career, is because from other critiques that I have read regarding this filming technique people believe that this sort of technique is a distraction from many of his films content and story lines in an effort to draw attention to the technique itself. From other double dolly scenes i’ve engaged with I can see how this is true but with this scene I find this technique to do the total opposite in that it engaged the audience with closeness in a way where one felt as though they were present, and in the scene themselves.

Representation of Women in Spike Lee Films

I think do the right thing is a great film however after watching and analyzing this film a question that arose in my head was what do the women in this film represent. In the film do the right thing, I think all of the women represented in the film are allegorical, stereotypical and troupes of sorts. My question is why? What is spike trying to say about black women in the film and outside of the film. The first women character I analyzed in this film and primarily helped me come to the conclusion that spike lee is lacking in his writing of women character is Mother Sister from the movie do the right thing, she stereotypically represents and perpetuates the narrative of black women’s domesticity, care taking, subservience and suffering. One thing I over looked that is a telling detail in support of my critique of women’s representation in Lee films is her name! Mother Sister, the name fulfills exactly what it is supposed to,it is a title that tells of the role that she plays within her community as a black woman. In an ending scene mother sister can be seen taking care of Mayor a neighborhood man who is laying in bed with a look of distress on his face after one of the neighborhoods most beloved youth is killed. Immediately preceding that scene in the film we are immersed in a scene where the mother of spike Lee’s child in the film is angry after an argument they just had about his absence from his sons life. During the argument she does most of the screaming/talking (rightfully so) but how does this portray her to the audience as an angry black woman and a single mother again another stereotypical role for a black woman in his film.

Wake up!!!

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I want to focus on the closing scene of school days when dap calls for a campus wake up. He’s is calling for a wake up on an all black campus where there is turmoil between black students. I believe the turmoil stems from multiple groups of black students on the campus wanting to become the next great black youth to lead the generation. We see a split and racial divide between black people all throughout the movies with fraternities and sororities but also in the scene outside of the chicken spot when dap and his boys and they get into an argument with other men who are older and are not college educated. One of the men on the opposite side of the debate from dap, played by Samuel L. Jackson uses the work nigga to refer to his friends and dap says “you are not a nigga” the man retorts “yes I am and you are too”, as a means to express to Dap that just because he’s a black man and educated doesn’t mean that the world will regard him any differently, in some ways I agree with the man’s sentiments and would even say I see this ideology perpetuated in modern day, there is this belief that if you act a certain way, have achieved certain things, or dress in a way that is deemed professional, that you will be treated better or differently than those that don’t. This notion is false. I want to particularly focus on an incident of violence that took place on university of Virginia’s campus in the fall of 2015,Martese Johnson was beaten and detained by Virginia officers for having a fake I.D. that was actually his real I.D.. Martese is a straight A student at UVA and is always dressed in a suit and tie, however the officers didn’t spare him because of this, so this f idea of respectability politics providing safety or invisibility is false.  I think the wake up at the end of the film is Dap finally realizing that and wanting to bring that message to everyone else on the campus. It is my believe that Daps wake up was to convey the message that the black students needed to stop tearing down each other in order to gain respect, power and safety in a world that won’t grant them that because of their blackness no matter how they dress, what education they have, or ways they might behave. he says this to say wake up we are on one team. And need to work on progressing our race together, so let’s stop tearing each other down in attempt to gain all of these things that don’t exist for us, because no how much money or power we have in comparison to each other we will still be regarded the same way because of our race and political identity.