Spike Lee in Get On The Bus

It is interesting to note that Get on The Bus is Lee’s first film in which he does not play a starring role. Despite this fact his presence was still felt through the character Xavier. I know that when I viewed the film I clearly saw similarities between himself and Xavier (AKA “X”), a UCLA film student who is making a documentary film on the Million Man March. Continue reading “Spike Lee in Get On The Bus”

A Brief Look at Why Most Black People Do Not Vote Republican

In a previous post, I wrote about the scene in Get on the Bus where Wendell gets thrown out for his ideologies. The revelation that Republicans were riding the bus caused a general feeling of astonishment between the bus riders. Evan Thomas Sr. encapsulated this by stating, “I don’t see how any Black man can be a Republican” (1:06:09). This movie was released in 1996, however there does not seem to be a significant change in how Black people view the Republican Party 20 years later. This begs the question, why don’t Black people support the Republican Party? Continue reading “A Brief Look at Why Most Black People Do Not Vote Republican”

Why Did Kyle Get to Stay on the Bus?

 

wendellIn Lee’s Get on the Bus, there is a scene where we learn that both Wendell and Kyle support the Republican Party. Wendell goes on a tirade about “niggas like Jackson” to make the point that Black leaders seem to be always asking for some form of patronage, leading him to say, “They all say the same thing, ‘Hire us. Feed us. Affirmative Action’. Like we need America to keep a nipple in our mouth” (1:05:58). Kyle reiterates this point in his defense. He says, “Democrats wanna keep us powerless, docile, begging for handouts. Running around having babies without even a minute plan for their future” (1:06:17). So why did Wendell get thrown off the bus, but Kyle didn’t? Continue reading “Why Did Kyle Get to Stay on the Bus?”

Get on the Bus: Jeremiah and Christianity

In my last post I touched on the topic of redemption while discussing Jamal. The character that I found to be the most interesting was Jeremiah in regards to redemption. Jeremiah not only provided the whole bus to be able to come together for a call of action in the film’s final moments, but was redeeming himself through his last valiant journey on the march.  Continue reading “Get on the Bus: Jeremiah and Christianity”

Get on the Bus: Gary and the redeemed

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When I watched this scene I found myself very conflicted. In class, it seemed there was a general consensus that Jamal was the redeemed character in this story. It was pointed out that Gary was not progressive in his thinking and was trying to hold back Jamal’s redemption. The way I read this scene was not so clear cut though.  Continue reading “Get on the Bus: Gary and the redeemed”

Black Lives Matter & Brotherhood

In one of our previous class discussions, we talked about the representation of an “individual’s story” and “stories of individuals”. Malcolm X’s story was an individual’s story, while Get On the Bus is a conglomerate of stories of individuals. In elevating one person’s story to represent the story of a people, I understand the significance of Malcolm X; but what I appreciate more about Lee’s Get On the Bus is that he showcases lives that doesn’t seem to matter in a larger context to be just as important– black lives matter.  Continue reading “Black Lives Matter & Brotherhood”

Babyface back at it again with the lyrics

The opening sequence in Get on the Bus was accompanied by a Michael Jackson song that I had never heard before. I consider myself to be one of Michael’s biggest fans so after listening for the first thirty seconds and realizing that I wasn’t familiar with the song I immediately Shazamed it. After leaving the screening I googled “On The Line,” and found out that it was written and co-produced by Babyface with Michael, and was made for the movie Get on the Bus. The song was released in 1996 but not on any of Michael’s own albums or greatest hits collections. This blew my mind because I fell in love with the song instantly and I didn’t know why such a good song, even if it was made for a movie soundtrack, wasn’t technically apart of his body of work. Especially because other movie soundtracks have produced major hits in the past. For example, Whitney’s Houston’s The Bodyguard gave us “I Have Nothing” and “Run to You.” While “On The Line” is tailored to fit the movie, its universal message of strength and perseverance far extends past its original movie purpose.

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Something that is also noteworthy about this song is that Spike Lee had Babyface and Michael Jackson co-write it. I think there is something to be said that two of the greatest song writers, and arguably the greatest performer of all time, came together to write a song for a movie about Black men coming together to fight for civil rights and justice. There is an inherent beauty in the conception of this song. Babyface was in his songwriting prime in the ’90s, writing songs for Mariah Carey, Tevin Campbell, Boyz II Men and many other superstars. I believe for him to take the time to write this song for Lee is his own personal  form of activism and homage to the struggle and legacy of the first Million Man march that happened in 1963. The song “On the Line” is layered with significance both in its conception and its delivery within the film. Beginning the movie with song produced and co-written by two superstar Black musicians for the purpose of said movie sets a precedent that the film is meant to make people stop and pay attention to its message.

Lyrics:

No sense pretending its over
Hard times just don’t go away
You gotta take that chip off your shoulder
It’s time you open up
Have some faith

Nothing good ever comes easy
All good things come in due time
Yes it does
You gotta have something to believe in
I’m telling you to open mind

Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right
You’ve got to reach out and try
Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right
Gotta put it all on the line

You see yourself in the mirror
And you don’t like what you see
And things aren’t getting much clearer
Don’t you think it’s time you go for a change

Don’t waste your time on the past, no, no
It’s time you look to the future
It’s all right there if you ask
This time if you try much harder
You’ll be the best that could can be

Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right
You’ve got to reach out and try
Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right

If you wanna do it now
You gotta learn to try
You can make it right somehow
Let love come free
And that’s just so easy now
You gotta go for what you want
You gotta do what you got to do

Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right
You’ve got to reach out and try
Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right

[Repeat and fade out]

Have You Ever Made Love to a Drum?

Have you ever made love to a drum? I have and it created the greatest sound in the world. This week I watched “Get On the Bus” alone, which offered a very intimate experience. The experience was so intimate that when I saw Jeremiah playing the drum, my heart skipped joyfully to his playing and heard the stories he was playing. Besides this moment, there were two scenes with the drum I enjoyed. Continue reading “Have You Ever Made Love to a Drum?”

Get on to Get Along: The Bus Edition

I loved this movie. I loved the conversations, and the characters with a few exceptions – and even they had their place (obviously). Spike’s pointed critique of homophobia, colorism, and absent father syndrome are realistic and apt. I really appreciated his use of the bus and the march as a place to allow for these kind of conversations, and the march as a destination to be reached. Giving a destination allowed the audience to have an end in sight and time restraints on the conversations. Within a few days, the black men (who never get a space such as this) have to flesh out several topics, and even if no one’s mind is actually changed, i.e. on the subject of homophobia, they are at least talked about openly. It is heartening to see the man and his son make up in some way, and there are other moments of awesomeness peppered throughout. I named this post get on the get along because there was this pervasive idea that to be on the bus, you had to be about it regardless of skin tone or even race, as that one rich yet rude black man was firmly kicked off. Get on the Bus is about black men, for black men, yet I didn’t feel excluded from the experience – all it takes is to be about it to get on this bus.