*cracks knuckles* Ok. Looks like I’m gonna have to get down and dirty with some of you. Ever since we got wind that Spike Lee had plans on releasing his controversial film Chi-Raq, many of you have been up in arms, questioning Spike’s ethics, his talent, his moral turpitude, his ABILITY, his motives. And frankly, I’ve had about enough.
Spike Lee. An American film writer, actor, director and producer. A revolutionary. A graduate of Morehouse college and NYU. Having produced over 35 films since 1983-admittedly, some of them missed the mark-glances at Bamboozled-this man is without a doubt, in a league of his own.
Always hellbent on telling the truth, never shying away from controversy, Spike IS what good artists are made of. Like the late, great Nina Simone once said, “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”
Hasn’t Spike always done just that?
Hasn’t he always gone into things unafraid, unfiltered, and maybe just a little batshit crazy? But at the end of the day, didn’t he always mean well?
Wasn’t it Spike Lee who told the NRA to shove it, citing this country’s history of violence and genocide? Wasn’t it Spike Lee who called bullshit when confronted with the notion of a “post-racial” society? Was it not Spike Lee who spoke out against Selma Oscar snubs, and the lack of diversity in Hollywood? Was it not Spike mothaf*ckin Lee who gave us Do the Right Thing?
I mean, Jesus. Let’s give the man a break.
Spike has been saying the things we WISH our favorite celebs would fix their mouths to say since he walked his little 5’6″ frame onto the (mostly white) Hollywood scene.
He really does care about US-Back people-yet, this is the man whose door we’re beating down, yelling and waving pitchforks? I can’t understand it. I need help.
Have we become a society that doesn’t even give ARTISTS room to fail? (If that’s what you choose to call Chi-Raq. I unlike many others, want to at least see the film before I update a hundred statuses about how much I hated it) Have we become a society that simply can’t wait until someone does something we don’t quite understand so we can rip them a new one, and move on to our next victim? Do we not have room for nuance? (I’m asking this of myself too).
I wonder. What makes Chi-Raq so different from movies like D’Jango. The Help. I think we can all agree that slavery is no laughing matter right? Racism’s no hoot…correct?? Yet and still…WE LAUGHED. We didn’t need a solemn, grim, three hour, lynch-a-thon to comprehend the fact that slavery and racism were and ARE deplorable things. We GOT this scene from Ms. Minny Jackson, DIDN’T we?
Now granted, I completely understand that this is a touchy subject for the people of Chicago, and for people all around the country. I get that. But that does not mean that Spike Lee, an artist, a man who sees the world through a creative lens that many of us don’t possess, has to tell the story the way YOU want him to tell it.
The movie, which is based off of Greek playwright Aristophanes‘ work Lysistrata, involves a plot, which calls on the women of Chicago to withhold sex in an effort to put an end to gun violence in their city. While the idea may seem far-fetched to some, let us not act like Spike came up with this all on his own. Women in all parts of the world have actually DONE this as an act of resistance. Isn’t art supposed to imitate life? Why are we making Spike the martyr, here? He didn’t create this concept and he certainly isn’t responsible for the gun violence in Chicago.
Via The Wrap-
“Chi-Raq” director Spike Lee led an anti-gun violence protest after the premiere of his new movie in New York on Tuesday night, marching with the film’s attendees from Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Theater to Times Square.
The movie’s Twitter page posted various photos from the protest, showing that Michael Pfleger, portrayed in the film by John Cusack, as well as Reverend Al Sharpton were present at the protest as well.
After the screening, for which Cusack, Wesley Snipes, Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris, LaLa Anthony, Michelle Mitchenor and Harry Lennix were present, Lee handed out knit hats and orange-colored American flag pins before leading the group down Broadway.
I mean, seriously, maybe I’m just dense, but I really don’t know what else you all want from Mr. Shelton Lee Jackson. I don’t think some of you will ever be satisfied. Honestly, I think it’s easier for some of us to direct our anger at Spike, than to point our fingers at the real culprits-The Government. Racism. Internalized Racism. And oh-ourselves.
— AMC Theatres (@AMCTheatres) December 1, 2015
Yesterday, The Root held a Twitter Q&A with Spike, and this was definitely my favorite answer from him by far-
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLee) December 2, 2015
Good ol’ Spike. At least he’s consistent!
So yes, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m encouraging everyone to go see the film. I think the least we can do is actually go see the movie before we start writing thinkpieces on how much we hate it. But who am I kidding? That’s probably too much to ask of an increasingly annoying generation that hates everything and everybody-so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I really do hope this movie opens a few eyes. The eyes it was intended for. I’m rooting for ya, Spike.