In Tongues Untied, Marlon Riggs examines how black, gay men are often forced to choose between which identity and movement they are allowed to be a part of. Continue reading “There are Gay Men on the Bus”
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.
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.
Do any of you feel as though the discussions in this class are often too unapologetic to Spike Lee? The only reason I bring this up is because we discuss him as an infallible figure. Speaking generally, just off the top of my head, I’m thinking of sexist undertones in Mo’ Better Blues and overt homophobic themes in School Daze. Thoreau has an entire chapter, Baker Farm in Walden, that I found to be some of his poorest work which was irreprehensibly contradictory. This does not mean I reject all other aspects of Thoreau’s– or Lee’s– work because of specific pitfalls. It does mean I question certain parts of each mans work. Thoughts?
Arohde16 (sorry I do not know who is who with the usernames) brought up an interesting discussion about homophobia in School Daze. After receiving criticism for being careless with homophobic scenes in his movie, Lee responds he was simply “holding up the mirror” to the issue. Although Lee is known for leaving questions unanswered or nicely resolved, the issue is probably more complicated than simply “holding up the mirror”. Continue reading “Continuing the discussion on homophobia in School Daze…”
From a 2013 interview with Spike Lee:
“First of all, I’m not homophobic. Because I have a character say the word “faggot” or “homo” that does not mean that I’m homophobic. Martin Scorsese is not racist. The characters are people he grew up with, characters in the mean streets — that’s those people talking, not him. In that world, those are the things people say. When I went to Morehouse College that’s the way they spoke, thought and talked about homosexuals… To be an artist, if you’re a novelist — every character you write is going to have the same vision? How do you have conflict if everybody is agreeing? Plus, what I’ve done is hold the mirror up. I’ve done a lot of showing what is happening now. I try to expose stuff by showing it — that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing it.”