Ijeoma Oluo Was Right. Spike Lee's Chi-Raq is Insultingly Bad. Why Are Other Critics Failing To Say So?

Comments

2
Four stars from the Seattle Times
3
At the high risk of sounding flip, I think not everyone dislikes the film. I don't think I'd like it based on the two reviews provided by the Stranger, but that's true of quite a lot of films. I think in Seattle we're looking at everything through a different lens than many other cities - not a better or worse one necessarily, but definitely not the same. It's a bubble, to be sure - but perhaps it's also a refuge.
5
I've heard the same complaints about the film. I was gonna see it, assuming that Spike is still considered a genius, but I think I'll skip it. People like deifying filmmakers (Tarentino is an example) but the proof is in the pudding, and Jones not a good cook.
6
Spike Lee has always had huge, massive, "gender issues," in ways that have really limited even his best work, and critics (who haven't always been fair to him in other ways) have collectively given him a pass. Nothing new here.
7
It's insulting to men, too, just as the niqab is insulting to men. The implication (or outright assertion) is that men are controlled -- apparently exclusively -- by their sexual urges. It tells us that the mere idea of sex with a woman is enough to reduce men to unthinking beasts, rendered incapable of rational thought. It's stupid.
8
different strokes and all,,,,right?

I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.
Christopher Hitchens

Say, I got an idea, why don't we gather up copies of this "offensive" film, and any other films or books that you we deem offensive, and burn them in a glorious bonfire....

We live in a time of college Book Burners....not of Free Thought
9
Spike Lee has entered his Woody Allen phase.

He's an established name and still a darling of NY intellectual media.

Why would he screw it up by trying something new and likely to fail?

No...this is the period when you kick back, and do a lot of "collegy" movies, the kind of this that's very clever, and mixes up a lot of ideas, and makes a great term paper, or even independent work that takes the place of the final exam.

10
@7 said:

It tells us that the mere idea of sex with a woman is enough to reduce men to unthinking beasts, rendered incapable of rational thought.

That's pretty much the stance of most organized religions...
11
@8, Get a grip, queen.
12
Yeah it's cringingly bad. There's this thing wherein once most people who are literate but don't have a strong literary sensibility get an overarching reference then they turn off their critical apparatus: "oh, it's a remake of X, I can see several ways it tags to X so it must be good."
13
I thought it sucked. I thought it might have some trenchant observations about him. Well, not only did it not have those, it had absolutely nothing to do with the former president of France.
14
you so need an editor
15
sorry...thank you for the sentiment, Charles.
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@2: To be clear, that Times review was penned by resident embarrassment Soren Anderson, and thus carries a massive, disqualifying asterisk.
17
Aristophanes is a great. What is your beef with him C?
19
reviewing reviews is the new news
20
Perhaps the author is unfamiliar with the concept of satire. Seeing it later today.
21
Aristophanes in fact offers a very reactionary perspective in most of his plays. They are comedies, not great drama and despite being "classics" or whatever the comedy is pretty low-brow, approaching Adam Sandler levels at times, lots of fart jokes, etc. "The Clouds" is an especially loathworthy play because it sets up the trope of "philosophers are idle thinkers with their heads in the clouds," a point of view that thrives today in culture (think Bill & Ted) and even politics (Rubio's welding comment buffoonery). The play actually calls for Socrates to be murdered by the audience before he can corrupt any more youth, which if you know anything about Socrates, is exactly what happened. Aristophanes was a bit of an overrated "genius" not so unlike the director of this film...
22
Not having seen the movie, I'll reserve judgment, both on Lee and his critics. But I don't find it problematic, really, that Aristophanes saw wielding power through withholding sex as valid. Androgen agitates, whether in sex or violence; to manipulate sexual response and arousal is to manipulate of at least some of the chemical, mechanical components of war-making, territoriality, and other masculine modes of status, wherever we are in history.

@21 - Sure, Aristophanes was reactionary. I won't so much defend his views as expressed in The Clouds so much as suggest that the theater is fairly useless without a diversity of views, however loathsome. And the notion that comedy is somehow lower or lesser compared to "great drama" strikes me as fundamentally wrongheaded.
23
@22: I only point out that Aristophanes is not a dramatist because saying the movie is based on Aristophanes for many people makes it instantly worthy of praise because it is based on a "classic"--even if that means low-brow comedy. I certainly don't begrudge ancient comedy (give me Menander or Plautus any day), but Aristophanes is not even particularly good comedy because the jokes rely on the audience having misogynistic and patriarchal views that were accepted in Athens at the time. This is evident in the Clouds as well as in the Thesmophoriazusae where the women of Athens actually plot to take over society. The constant theme in all is that (male) Athenian society has become weak and effeminate, putting down the spear and shield in favor of writing poetry and plays and discussing philosophy. This is why the women of Athens are able to take over, not because they are inherently stronger or smarter but because the menfolk have debased themselves to the point where the weakling women can just take over the city. These attitudes are rife in his plays which amount to little more than an insecure high-school jock's lame attempts to "man-up" society. The point being that just because something is old doesn't mean it's praiseworthy nor does a remake of such a work amount to a great work of art as an astonishing number of reviewers of this film seem to think. If Spike Lee actually understood anything about Aristophanes he would realize the premise of his movie is actually incredibly degrading and insulting to women.
24
I'm heartened to see that somebody, anybody, finally has the balls to blame Aristophanes for this.
25
I saw it. It should've been a documentary.
26
To be honest, I don't know if Chi-Raq is truly sexist. What I do know is the movie does have an anti-violence message, though it markets that message at the expensive of a little female dignity. Moreover, how does anyone here think the feminist movement started? Does anyone here really think that women got say, the right to vote by just asking us men to (Please pardon the pun) "Do The Right Thing?!"