A problem of representation.

In this scene Pierre confronts Dunwitty, outraged over revisions made to his pilot script without his consent. Dismissing Pierre’s anger, Dunwitty cites his own intimate knowledge of Black people as the source of his authority to approve a final cut of the show. For the second time in the film, Dunwitty asserts that he has superior knowledge of Black culture and that Pierre should defer to his better judgement. And for the second time, Pierre is unable to successfully challenge him on this point. Continue reading “A problem of representation.”

The Everyday Tragedy

“Do the Right Thing” is one of the most inconclusive movies of Spike Lee’s in my opinion. It is also one of my favorites. In terms of general flow and enjoyment, I thought the transitions and story arc were very solid. In other movies, Chi-raq being forefront in my mind, I felt that the themes overpowered the story in that Spike Lee wanted to make sure you got it. Two other exceptions are Crooklyn and Inside Man, but the latter was less about theme are more about cinema perhaps, and Crooklyn more about family/children and not necessarily external racism.. Often to get this point across, Lee puts his characters in pretty unrealistic or exaggerated situations. If he doesn’t do that, he exaggerates certain characteristics of certain characters and we are left with someone who is a caricature. “Do the Right Thing” seemed highly probable (except for Mookie keeping his job; he was the worst employee ever) and in that lay its success. The feel of an everyday neighborhood, going through the motions of being that neighborhood were poignant and real. The tragedy at the end with Radiohead’s death and the pizza shop being burned down seemed real too. And the next day, when things seemed business as usual, added to the idea that this happens all the time, and that is what makes it so bad. Visually, I loved this movie. The colors were bright, the sun was hot, and the loving shots of black skin were stunning in a way you don’t often see.

Bamboozled: Follow the Purple

Running throughout Bamboozled was the curious use of the color purple. We first see it on Pierre, who goes into work in a bright head-to-toe purple suit. I was instantly reminded of clowns, and watched closely throughout the rest of the movie to see where else it popped up. Sloan wears it when she still agrees with Delacroix’s (Pierre’s) motives, in the form of both a shirt and a jacket. However, when she switches perspectives, you never see her wear it again. Manray has a purple undershirt on during the meeting with the producer, while Womack very pointedly does not. Pierre continues to wear shades of purple throughout the movie. The “pimp” figure during auditions, when everything goes smoky, is also wearing a purple hat. It seems like characters who are sellouts, or shufflers, wear purple as an emblem of their acquiescence. I found this interesting for many reasons. First, purple is the color of royalty. Second, it is a color often associated with black people. Why did Spike use this particular color to highlight the individuals within the movie who were most lost? Perhaps by attributing it to them, he was highlighting just how great the “lost” quality was.

The Art of the Shuffle

Looking back on Hollywood Shuffle as the first movie we watched, I can’t help but compare it to all the rest. As a starting point, I would say Hollywood Shuffle was a great entrance into ideas Spike Lee attempted to flesh out in his movies. In the story arc of the class, it served as a nice prequel to Bamboozled, although the latter was more painful. I actually began watching Master of None, and in the fourth episode, the main character is asked to do an Indian accent for an audition. He does not do it, but his friend does, citing reasons such as needing money, which is very really. And I remember Professor Parham asking the question: What does it mean when your profession, what you love to do, is something that simultaneously degrades you? The shuffle, the jive, the hustle, all has to do with trying to make it. And there isn’t always work at the post office.