#SpikeLee & #ChiraqMovie Trailer (VIDEO & BLOG)

Interview and Trailer:

This week, director and actor Spike Lee released the trailer for the movie "Chiraq". The film was announced to be filmed this past spring and shot this summer primarily on the south side of Chicago in the Englewood neighborhood. The trailer was 2 minutes and received very negative backlash from many Chicagoans. Many people stated that Lee was exploiting the city and making light of a serious situation, which is the violence in urban, majority Black communities of Chicago.

The 2 minute trailer featured a satirical like tone starring some actors like Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, and Dave Chapelle. It seems to be based off the Greek play "Lysistrata" composed by Aristophanes. This play told the tale of warring communities and the women who abstained from sex to reduce to violence. Like many Greek plays, this in particular has also been used in the 2003 film starring Miami rapper Trina, "A Miami Tail".

While I think the trailer was okay, I'm still going to see and judge to film in its entirety. I often wonder where are the outrage was when some of these artists in Chicago were getting famous off of glorifying the violence through music. I mean for the past few years, many Chicagoans have been praising, supporting and elevating rappers who glorify the same message so many of us claim to be against. I also wonder where the outrage was that was going to lead to some action being made to create solutions. Also, I'm not sure if some people know of Spike Lee's body of work and recognize the pro-Black cultural themes and historical stories he's told in his films.

Now don't get me wrong, it could very well be a bad film, but I think it's unwise to throw it in the trash off a few minutes. A lot of the backlash that I've been reading online has also reminded me how extremely reactionary many of us are. I always felt that if many of us had a sense of urgency and put as much energy creating solutions for the youth as we do making critiques, there probably would not be a "Chiraq" to begin with. Now I'm not saying you're not entitled to your opinion, and not stating that everyone who is anti-"Chiraq" the movie is not putting in any effort, but it's not enough of us willing to do the work.

Prior to the filming of "Chiraq", there have been plenty of "outsiders" coming to our city filming documentaries, short films, and other media sources about the unrest and violence in the city. You can see some of the documentaries here. I recall little to no backlash at that. Last year, Queens, New York rapper Nicki Minaj did a song entitled "Chiraq" with Chicago rapper Lil' Herb. I guess it's okay to exploit the violence in Chicago as long as you're from here.

Whether or not Lee is a Chicago native is also besides the point. There are plenty people in Chicago who can't tell you the history of Chicago, don't know the politics of current Chicago, can't explain the systematic reasoning for the gang violence and economic, racial, and educational inequalities, and so forth. If there is a requirement for someone to be native to a city to help tell a story, many films, documentaries, etc would not have been created. As quiet as it's kept, this is not an exclusive problem only Chicago had, this is a problem that has been plaguing inner city neighborhoods across the nation since the U.S. government funded Crack Era (even prior to this era).

Now, I'm not saying Spike Lee is a hero or savior. I don't expect him to give us an exact rundown of what to do to solve the violence. I think this film will be based about awareness and a reality check. Besides, it's thousands of initiatives, programs, and groups in Chicago that have been created to stop the gang violence, plenty of educational resources online and offline so the solutions are here, it's many of the people who do not or perhaps can not work or just simply do not care. All I'm saying is I think we should watch the film first, then give a critique on it.

"Chiraq" will be released December 4, 2015.



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