School Daze, Untied: A Vlog Post (Part 2)

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.

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Midterm: Toeing the Line

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 11.07.02 PM.pngThere are many themes present in Spike Lee’s School Daze. Homophobia, the power of students, defining blackness through or without Africa, what it means to be African American, how black one is, colorism, masculinity, female power, and even rape. Themes crop up like daisies, but their unifying factor to me seems to be about the ever present (invisible) line and what it means to cross it. For example, Dap has to toe the line between his morals and staying at school. There is only so far he is allowed to go before the school says “walk back over it”. Walk back over it why?

“Who supports the black colleges? I’ll tell you who! The federal government, and philanthropists like Snardgrass!”

“Cuz if you don’t, you stand a good chance of losing them.”

“There it is.”

Because the line you toe was drawn by the people with money, the people who support, the people who hold the reins through their control of the lives of the students at mission. Toeing the line is something that black people have to do all the time. In my experience, there is always a point at which you think “I can’t do this because I’m black.” It is a low form of self-imposed coercion into certain behaviours. We’re all human after all, and being human is about surviving. And surviving takes precedence to morals.

Another way we can look at the line is through the confrontation between Dap and his friends and the men in the chicken restaurant. In that case, it took on the form of the line between blackness, and the ways in which it manifests, and if the way you choose to manifest it falls on the right side. Either way, it’s about divide. School Daze exemplifies all of the ways these lines we drag along with us create divides and bring about violence and disharmony by there existence. In the office, when the chairman of the board goes to talk to the dean of the school, he lists of the various groups that do help and support their various colleges (the Catholics, the Jews, the Mormons (who supports the black people?)). It is the same old trope, of all other groups working together except for black people because of all the internal division. Yet, when attempts to breach walls occurs, there is a push back from those who hold the chalk. School Daze, and almost, if not all of Spike Lee’s movies, are so relevant because he somehow predicted that change is law-deep and buried, causing time and people willing to push the only erasers.

Midterm: Embrace Brotherhood

This post is about embracing brotherhood and where are black males allowed to show intimacy and have difficult conversations in School Daze and today.

Not too long ago, actor Michael B. Jordan and director Ryan Cooler appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair for their role as “disrupters revolutionizing art, film, and fashion”. In the photo, Jordan extends his arm and uses his hand to hold the back of Coogler’s hand. The image is also to promote solidarity between brotherhood. Black masculinity does not just mean large muscles and deep gazes. Yet, the image received backlash, especially from black males on twitter before the tweets were removed. These tweets emasculated the men, such as:

“The pose insinuates a man dominating another man. He’s palming his head.” – @Fettimagazine

“Why is he holding his head like that anyway? What type of unity does this suggest? It does look a little suspect. Looks almost like he has his head headed towards his **** How about a simple handshake?” -@Mizzlee_atl

style-disrupters-derek-blasberg-michael-b-jordan-ryan-coogler

Is it possible for Black males to show solidarity in brotherhood without the image or concept becoming over sexualized? Continue reading “Midterm: Embrace Brotherhood”

School Daze, Untied: A Vlog Post

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.

Hazy Days of Daze: Was it all a dream?

I liked School Daze well enough. It wasn’t one of my favorites, but it wasn’t my least favorite either. The ending didn’t make much sense to me and I couldn’t figure out any reason why Spike Lee would want us to view the movie as a dream sequence, or as separate from reality at all. I think he could have said “Wake up” in other ways. A conversation from Dap to Julian, or Dap to half-pint, or Rachel to Dap, where he still broke the fourth wall, but some internal character/story conclusion was still reached. I was left with confusion, and not the good kind. What happened Spike Lee?

The Infallible Spike Lee

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?

Representation of Women in Spike Lee Films

I think do the right thing is a great film however after watching and analyzing this film a question that arose in my head was what do the women in this film represent. In the film do the right thing, I think all of the women represented in the film are allegorical, stereotypical and troupes of sorts. My question is why? What is spike trying to say about black women in the film and outside of the film. The first women character I analyzed in this film and primarily helped me come to the conclusion that spike lee is lacking in his writing of women character is Mother Sister from the movie do the right thing, she stereotypically represents and perpetuates the narrative of black women’s domesticity, care taking, subservience and suffering. One thing I over looked that is a telling detail in support of my critique of women’s representation in Lee films is her name! Mother Sister, the name fulfills exactly what it is supposed to,it is a title that tells of the role that she plays within her community as a black woman. In an ending scene mother sister can be seen taking care of Mayor a neighborhood man who is laying in bed with a look of distress on his face after one of the neighborhoods most beloved youth is killed. Immediately preceding that scene in the film we are immersed in a scene where the mother of spike Lee’s child in the film is angry after an argument they just had about his absence from his sons life. During the argument she does most of the screaming/talking (rightfully so) but how does this portray her to the audience as an angry black woman and a single mother again another stereotypical role for a black woman in his film.