Satire needs to have a cutting point. It needs intention, and in this film, the intention was unclear. That being said, we identified scenes interspersed throughout when Lee used form to make statements about power. When the men sneak into the armory to unlock the chastity belts, Old Duke decides to challenge Lysistrata. He insults her, asking the women “to be polite… bow down to the man.” Rather than give in, Lysistrata attacks the men’s masculinity. The sound design of the scene is important: we hear her heels but not his footsteps. When she smacks Old Duke, all of the men seem physically affected when their heads flinch. This is an exceptional scene from the film, and by that we mean both powerful, and an exception. We found Chi-Raq’s ending to be too digestible, and out of touch with reality. The film isn’t grounded in reality, but we are.
Throughout the film, we see women of color use their sexuality as a weapon.
The appearance of the “gun” in Chi-Raq is more than just an object but a central character to the film’s politics of power. The arc of the “gun” begins with it’s birth and ends with it’s death. As part of the film’s introduction, audience members view a map of the United States of America constructed by different types of guns; this suggests the “birth” of the gun’s story line, the power it will hold for the film, and foreshadows the violence of not only Chicago, but all of the United States. In Father Mike’s sermon, he states “the gun began [a] professional career,” suggesting its sentience and potential to grow. However, we see the downfall of Gun and his “colleagues” at the very end of the film, a pile of guns sitting on display as the community reaches peace, reminiscent of a mass grave of corpses.
Inside Man is teeming with interracial racial stereotypes. Unlike some of the other films by Spike Lee, some of the discriminatory statements are very outright and evident. For example, the cop sees Vikram’s turban and shouts “Aw shit, a fucking Arab”, while the hostage claims, “No, I’m a Sikh.” The scene is accompanied by non-diegetic sounds of police officers shouting, “what is that? Is that a bomb?”
In another instant, Detective Frazer talks to Sergeant Collins, Collins says, “This one little spick is getting his clock cleaned by another one.” Frazer calls Collins out and responds, “just do me a favor sergeant and tone down the color commentary”, to which Collins responds with “the nnn— African American kid…”
Continue reading “Progression or Regression?”
In Bamboozled, animation is a tool that investigates who has ownership over media and art that people consume and where power rests. Animation allows the director to construct a reality that he or she has full influence over. Whether it is the color composition, mise en scène, and movement everything is strategically placed, relegating the control to the creator. The scene at 1:56:20, the Mau Maus create the graphic image on their site with every element on the screen being of salience. Continue reading “Animation and Power”