Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Chi-what? Chi-where?


    The recently popular slang term for the city of Chicago comparing the city's reputation for numerous deaths due to gang violence to the war on Iraq. Silly, I know. However Brooklyn's very own Spike Lee has taken this concept and ran with it. Combining the poor misconception of Chicago's street violence and how much the city is perceived as a "murder capital" with the plot of a classic Greek tragedy "Lysistrata" Mr. Lee brings us" Chiraq, coming to theaters December 4th.

The trailer has seemed to cause a lot of controversy:

CHI-RAQ Trailer from 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks on Vimeo.

     Mr. Lee is not holding back with this one, however he is, very much so. Bringing out all the bells and whistles of modern day cinema, especially in terms of "Urban" film. You have your star studded cast, your lights, colors, action, drama, fighting, crying, laughing, and lots of dramatic music. Mr. Lee is doing exactly what I personally keep accusing cinema these days of doing and that is exploiting, he is exploiting his audience and the city he chose to isolate and target. Lets talk about us, the audience. We are the reality tv watching, Maury watching, drama watching, worldstar hip hop bookmarking, "ratchet", fight video posting, scandal loving, and "Scandal" loving, Urban Youth. There is no need for truth, or substance, or education when it comes to the forms of media we succumb to these days and Uncle Spike knows that. Uncle Spike will spoon feed us modern day Black-sploitation knowing we will eat it all up.

     Now about the city of Chicago. To address gang/street/gun violence is one thing but to address it in a way where you are isolating one city and stripping it of its name is plainly disrespectful. This film is making it seem like Chicago is the only place where violence happens. Many cities have been referred to as the "Murder Capital" because of statistics. There is not one "Murder Capital", that is simply a mindset, just an idea or a phrase to support an argument. This film will single handedly fuel all "Black on Black crime" rhetoric, an argument Spike Lee has used himself. We are at a time in America where Black people are being killed on the basis of racism by police officers and/or vigilantes and Spike Lee has said in response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement something along the lines of "What about Black on Black crime?". However, the idea of "Black on Black Crime" is a myth. Black people are not killing Black people because they are Black or on the basis of racism whatsoever. Globally we are being told that Black lives do not matter, and that is the issue. To bring up that "we are killing ourselves too" is just another way of saying that we deserve to be killed by others which is a respectability issue. By respectability I mean the idea that if we do not "respect" ourselves, no one will respect us; it is often aided by statements such as "well if you dressed differently" or "well if you spoke properly" as if it is our fault we are being disrespected and not the people who are disrespecting us. Chiraq is going to fuel that idea 100%. People who often say "All Lives Matter" in response to #BlackLivesMatter will use this film to catapult the idea that Black people are indeed killing ourselves, so we should not be upset when other people kill us.

     With these two notions combined the cherry on top is essentially the "Lysistrata" inspired plot line. In order to stop gang violence the women of city will ban together, and stop having sex with their gang banging boyfriends. This ideas paints women as just bodies, as just vaginas, only capable of having sex. This plot line makes it seem that women cannot do anything in terms of social activism and community organization, we cannot read nor write nor work computers nor march nor use our voices for any cause, we are sex machines. The main problem with this is that it is not just men, and women, and a particular city being shown in a less than flattering light, it is Black people; Black women, Black men and a predominately Black City. White people, racist or not, are going to see this film and perceive Black men as angry, violent, and horny; and Black women as sex objects and baby making machines.

     Spike Lee has spoken out against criticism of "Chiraq", stating that this film is not a comedy, however it is a satire. But based on this trailer, I see it as neither. This film is pure Black-sploitation at its finest, Thank you Uncle Spike.

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