Get on the bus together


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.