A lot of Black people are mad at Spike Lee for making the movie Chi-Raq and have a range of opinions that make for a debate that could —> never <— be settled. The best thing I’ve heard is that you either LOVE the movie or HATE it. (It’s no secret where I stand!)
Criticisms run the gamut of:
*the film shouldn’t have called Chicago out – even though a main character references a bunch of other cities with high crime rates,
*it doesn’t authentically portray the people of Chicago,
*there’s more than Black on Black crime and gang violence in Chicago,
*there was too much sex,
*a sex strike could never work in real life to end violence – as if Spike is saying to actually do this,
*women were objectified,
*it was a bunch of coonin’ and buffoonery and overacting – even though it’s a SATIRE,
*a satire —> cannot <— be a message film,
*dialogue choices – even though it stays true to the play it is based on, “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes originally performed in ancient Greece in 411 BC,
*white preacher/the Black church – even though it’s based on an actual minister,
*Common/Kanye didn’t play lead,
*and all other criticism.
However, from what I’ve read of the perspectives that really hated the film, it seems that people wanted Spike to make a movie that has *ALREADY* been made four years ago called THE INTERRUPTERS. I saw the documentary in 2013 on YouTube (no longer available on the site but it is available in its entirety at the link HERE) and was blown away that the film had less than 2,000 views at that time.
The night I watched #TheInterrupters, I sent a message to a group of friends that I am now dedicating to those who hate the movie #CHIRAQ but feel that Black on Black Crime – specifically, not in lieu of Blue on Black Crime or white supremacy crimes against people of color – is a problem that we should continually address (in as many ways possible until further notice).
This is the actual email I sent to my friends:
“I just watched what I think is one of the most prolific and important recent documentaries about the gun violence affecting our youth in Chicago and the adults who are actively stopping it, one day at a time, in ways you couldn’t imagine. The film was released in 2011, and chronicles a year in the life of an organization called CeaseFire (now known as Cure Violence) and the work of The Violence Interrupters. I became aware of one of its main characters, Ameena Matthews because she was honored at Black Girls Rock in October 2013, but I had NO IDEA how monumental her/their work is until today. I’m like, people HAVE to see this and become more aware of the Black Americans who have become ACTUAL local leaders and are actively standing in the line of fire in order to literally stop a trigger from being pulled. It’s unreal the way Ameena continues to stand in the middle of fifteen young men on streets where so many have died each year, and holds them to task. She’s not the only one; Tio, Cobe, Eddie, the whole crew of them round out the literal SUPER HERO team in Chicago. I’m preparing to do more research on the organization’s work for an assignment but I had to send this out.
“Even though the subject matter is bleak and depressing, this is really an inspired, touching and inspirational film. I LOVE the retelling of their youth criminal backgrounds and what led them to become peace crusaders as adults, their mentorship, their community action, their decision-making processes, their intellectual analyses of the violence in their Chicago streets, the way they have fun with and engage the youth (both male and female) and the young adult men who they are physically blocking from violence. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this about US… It is Black American culture cast in the most precious light. I wish a million viewers had seen this film, but sadly it appears on YouTube as if less than 2,000 have, though it has aired on PBS as well. Also, sadly their funding has decreased over the last two years, but they continue to do the work. I hope you’ll take a couple of hours out of your day this evening or this weekend and engage the solution seekers known as The Interrupters.”
The Interrupters is also available on iTunes and Amazon Video for $2.99 if you want to pay to watch it. If you hate this film, AND Chi-Raq, then… I don’t know what to tell you. And, if you have an opinion on Chi-Raq and haven’t seen it, or have only seen the trailer…. then you’re talking just for the sake of talking.