Fuck You, Spike Lee

Chi-Raq Is an Insult to Do the Right Thing, to Black Women, and to Malcolm X

Comments

1
Women's vaginas bring about world peace...

To be fair, that's the exact premise of Lysistrata. Of course, the original was a comedy. It was also one of the earliest plays ever written, so audience sensibilities have become a bit more sophisticated since then.
2
Bad ass soundtrack? Even my Idaho butt wanted more PE than the chorus of Fight The Power. I bet the Soundtrack all the shelf was probably dope, this one might be as well? But from the movie itself, Do The Right Thing had like ten of Chuck's words.

Came to say what #1 said.

All gimmick then, probably the same now. Maybe it is just my shoes.
3
Made the black guy write the review so the headline would stand all scrutiny against racism...well played TheStranger!!!
4
Maybe take a look at Lee's output since Do The Right Thing, and then take another look at Do The Right Thing, which in retrospect seems to have been fairly overrated. Check out 25th Hour or Crooklyn. Interesting concepts, nicely framed shots, some fine acting...but do they add up to great films? I'd argue no. We all want him to be great, but I don't know that he ever was.
5
@osage2112 Good job mis-gendering the author.
6
Why are you reviewing films by men with unrealistic portrayals of women?

Either stand by what you said or stop pretending.
7
@1: Yes, as the author pointed out in paragraph 4 of this review.
To be fair.
@5:Shhhh. Now osage2112 will start ranting about misandry, and their God given right to bone.
8
What do you mean "reduced" to walking vaginas?
9
you finally review a black movie and you still don't like it
10
For a vastly different take on the same movie, check out the New York Times' review by Manohla Dargis: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/movies…
11
I haven't seen the movie, but the review sounds like maybe they just watched a satire with complete seriousness. Then it makes more sense. In that the review is more about the reviewer than the movie.
Or who knows, could be the film failed to establish itself as a satire? pick your bone...
12
"Do the Right Thing" also reduced women to vaginas, or at least to love interests.
13
Haven't seen the film but it seems that everyone against it hasn't been on the south side of Chicago. This film is satire on a specific population of people not to be generalized to every black person outside of that population. In other words if this is not what you do then it's not talking about you, stop personalizing it. If the shoe don't fit don't wear it!
I'm not from Chicago but I work ER on the Southside and Westside (Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods) to be honest I feel the girl in the hot pants would do a better job at getting my patients to comply than my degree does. It may be hurtful to some but it does have an element of truth and reality. Gang members have a different mind set and although you think there is some bigger issue behind why they senselessly kill the truth is "street cred" is behind most of it. Which is just as "idiodic" as stroking your gun under a viaduct like a street "troll".
14
It feels like what a Fox News anchor imagines gang life is like.


Ha ha!
15
Who cares what the new York times has to say about this film. Its BS.. From a Chicagoan....
17
Hey there Miss Oluo, You are a delightfully strong voice and I love your excoriation of this film. It's wildly youthful and up-to-the minute-contemporary in its conviction. Thank you for your fire-breathing, capital-T Truth. I do have one, off-topic request for you. The point you make about Spike Lee's soundtrack...did you really have to make the agist comment implying that 50-year olds are out of touch with today's hip hop? If you're going to breathe fire about racism and sexism, you might want to check your own bias toward people older than you. Agism is just as ugly. I hope you see this and know that I see great things in you and can't wait to see what you're writing about when you yourself are 50.
18
Point of clarification: I hope you see *this comment* and know that I see great things in you.
19
When did the Slog comments section become such a magnet for stupid?
20
What if this was just really obscure satire? And he is making the point that these tired cliches are still the only thing we see, despite all the mouthing to the contrary...
21
@ 15, are you really saying that you can't understand and/or review a movie unless you are part of the exact portion of society it attempts to depict? What misunderstanding of art.
22
How is the word "satire" not even in this review? DAMN!
23
@19) You answered your own question.
24
Thank you, @17. Fuck ageism.
26
While there is most likely an element of satire, Lee has been giving interviews indicating that he takes the idea of sex strikes pretty seriously.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/nov…
27
@3 you're thinking of her brother, ohamafule. sorry if I misspelled that, going from my weed-riddled memory.
28
@3: Ahamefule J. Oluo, aka Mr. Lindy West.
29
Just so you know, before you complain about John Cusack's character again, it's based on Michael Pfleger, an actual preacher in Chicago's South Side. Lee said as much in his recent interview with Trevor Noah.
30
So, basically, the movie is just like almost every rap song written nowadays?
31
Great piece. I figured this movie would be a joke once they posited John Cusack as the white saviour.
32
The Stranger has gone full PC.
33
Apparently it hasn't been well-received in Chicago, either.

http://www.thefader.com/2015/12/04/chanc…

34
Spike Lee is 58
35
Me Oluo,

You totally miss the point. Women are not characterized as sex objects in this film. Instead, they make the point that if black men do not respect life.....babies, then they do not deserve to enter the place where babies come from--the pussy. That is the point. Lee references the sex protests of Liberian woman headed by Leymah Gobwee in the early 2000's which helped to end the war there. Woman have been taking such action since ancient times. Please go and read Lysistrata, one of the first plays ever written, which the film is inspired by. I for one say Bravo to Spike!
36
I am so glad....I up found this post!!!

All the five star reviews were making my head spin. I left the theater thinking... I should have followed my first mind. The trailers were bad... The movie followed suit.. In fact this movie was absolutely horrible.
I actually like Spike Lee. He's creative, and I don't believe that he's gotten the recognition that he deserves for other legitimately good work like Malcom X, She's Gotta Have It and Jungle Fever. Good work.. From early in his career.

Chi Raq...misses an opportunity to truly highlight a serious issue and create a cinematic and socially responsible statement about senseless violence occurring in our communities.

As a black woman I am insulted by every single aspect of this movie! "No pussy... No peace"...? REALLY??? What a tragic minimalization of black women, our intellect, our capacity and tradition of affecting positive change!

This movie is a lost opportunity to bring light to horrible violent tragedies occurring throughout America and impacting black lives which really do matter. In this film...it's not black lives that seem to matter, but BLack Pussy! NOT!!!! Very sad! Spike, you are better than this....PLEASE WAKE UP!!!!!
37
@35, people caught up in the religious fervor of identity politics will not care that this film is based on a great work of literature, actual historical facts, and real people who actually exist.

If the demographic with which they identify isn't fully and simplistically represented in its best, most empowered, light, then the product sucks.

They're feeling feelings.
38
@35, 37: yeah, i'd wager Oluo knows its based on Lysistrata.

is it really a GREAT work of literature, or just an old one?
39
@37, What if it's actually a shitty movie that trivializes the violence of every day life for people in Chicago and reduces women to sex objects, while also being based on ancient work of literature, all at the same time? Did I just blow your mind?

Dismissing the reviewer as someone "caught up in the religious fervor of identity politics" is a round-about way of saying a black woman's opinion of a movie about black women cannot be trusted, and that is sooooooo fucked up.
40
@38, Yes, she mentions the play, but since she doesn't discuss it at all, I doubt she's read it, and a professional reviewer with high standards would have taken the time to read the play this film pays homage to and write a few words comparing and contrasting. Instead, she wastes space saying, "It's bad! It's bad! It's fucking bad!" The lack of depth found in this review belies any evidence that she put any outside reading or thought into her work at all. Where's her pride in her job?

She made no mention of the Women of Liberia (who Lee was also honoring). It's like she's never heard of the history of sex strikes. Because of her ignorance and willful apathy, she insults women who have used this strategy to try to bring peace and make the world better for themselves and their families.

It's very clear that she didn't know that Cusack's character is based on an actual preacher living and working in the South Side, which makes the review even more embarrassing.

This review comes off like she didn't do any research or homework before getting pissed off and writing about politics, rather than the film itself and the director's intent.

@39, Oluo panning the film is not the problem. The problem for me is why she panned it. I've not yet seen this movie, but I've seen almost all of Spike Lee's other films (I've never seen Mo' Better Blues), and based on his oeuvre, I don't think it's unreasonable to doubt that he would ever trivialize the everyday violence of residents living in Chicago's South Side. He's Spike Lee, for fuck's sake.

I am aware of Oluo's race (and her personal bias when reviewing films), but I was actually referring to a comment from someone saying, "As a black woman..." That person is focusing on her identity first, rather than the film itself. But you're right that I was being a bit too sarcastic. I shouldn't have made the "feelings" remark.
41
silly! of course she didn't do any research. doing research means writing a better, more thoughtful review that wouldn't get any page hits and thusly NO MONEY. i bet staff writers are only paid a percentage of the revenue page hits generate. and she isn't black. she's mixed race, which is different.
42
spike lee... made you talk. hasn't managed to do that to this extent since 'do the right thing'..mission accomplished
43
I might agree with her 100 percent about this movie, but Oluo is one of the worst "film critics" I've ever encountered. Maybe underneath it all she's a great writer, but she should maybe focus her talents and energies on some other journalistic enterprise. There used to be an expectation that film writers actually know something about the subject of film, have a somewhat measured critical approach and be able to write without ranting, but not anymore I guess. I can't believe this is a paid writing position. But then this is the Stranger in 2015.
45
so, i haven’t seen this, but i don’t know, it sounds like it could be a big mess, but at the core of the original material and this, i think there’s a question of what behavior we tolerate and reward - i think all the evo psych people would say that women have often felt drawn to warrior men because of a perception of protection, etc. blah blah blah. there’s definitely an impulse among heterosexual men to act tough, win fights, etc because they see that as a valuable thing for attracting women. I see this and the source material as an attempt to flip that on it’s head - as sex is often a part of relationships (and don’t get me started on the feelings of entitlement there, it’s obviously an issue), [while it maybe shouldn’t be, people vary on that, obv, it remains a tool in the toolbox to express displeasure]. The concept that you would say i am going to use this thing we both conceptually enjoy and not take part in it because you are doing something bad - this ultimatum is, to me, somewhat powerful. Or at least not just about women being walking vaginas, but actually using the fact that a lot of straight male behavior is related to the idea of getting women and using that to adjust male behavior to be less violent. but it may not be a movie regardless.
46
Chi-Raq is a farce. But in order to realize that you first have to have a sense of humor.
47
Surprised the music surprised you. Lord knows the biggest problem in all of Spike's movies, especially his early films, has been the awful sound tracks composed by his father. Something along the lines of plantation music set on ultra high volume.
49

Lysistrata had never been really very funny except to theater majors (which usually means it's boring). This movie isn't very funny either. Nor is it very good.
Maybe theater majors will like it...?

50
@46: That, and the fact that she needs to know what satire is (especially Lysistrata.)
51
One question: did the author read the Lysistrata before watching the movie?
52
How many people here on this thread saw the movie this past weekend? How many knew it was even opening this weekend?

It was #13 at the box office. No one went to see this. $1,250,224
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=…

And next weekend it'll drop even further. No one wants to see this. Not even it's target audience. Which is.....?

Spike won't blame himself for making a movie that no one wants to watch. He'll just blame Whitey like he always does.
53
I saw it. It was an interesting mess. Like a lot of his movies. There were some good performances, but somehow, it didn't connect emotionally for me. At least someone is addressing the issue, though I think it should've been a Spike Lee documentary instead of satire.
54
I rarely go to theaters to see movies. I plan to watch this movie the way I have the majority of Lee's films: HBO.
55
What about the 2003 Liberian sex strike? It seems like this is clearly one of Spike Lee's inspirations, and a perfect example of African American women overcoming a portrayal of being little more than sex objects to bring about real change in their society through witholding sex.

I will admit I have not seen the movie, but it strikes me that this is more of a missed attempt at pointing out the farce in modern life. This movie comes across as "Shitty African American Feminist Ally" rather than an attempt to insult Black Women and Malcolm X.
56
Admitted Liberia is not in America. I do wish there was an edit button for when my fingers type a little too quickly.
57
The Pussy is a Freudian metaphor for relationships. Spike Lee movie is not reducing black women to a body part. As the Greek tragedy, the withholding Pussy is a vehicle for dialog. As bell hooks state, black men who are having multiple sexual relationships are looking for the lost relationship with the first woman in their lives. Ms. Hooks is also accurate with her assessment of Patriarchy. Men find it easy to express masculinity with violence, the respected currency. They both serve as a metaphor for what is missing in their lives. I like this article expressing disappointment with Spike, but like most criticism is's a reflection of real personal hurt, let's think about the bigger picture.
58
Fuck spike lee. Now he's boycotting the golden globes... Good you suck and so do your movies. Stay out of Chicago, go back to Brooklyn where someone might give a fuck. Hey little guy, were you even invited.
59
see the film! see the film! see the film! decide for yourselves! remember what satire is! john cusack's monologue was not an exception in the film, it was a large part of its core! the film's not about chicago, it's about violence all over the world! the pussy-strike is an integral piece of the original story! women aren't reduced to "walking vaginas" but rather portrayed as simultaneously being the bearers of life, highly class-conscious organizers, and resisters of the patriarchy and its inherent violence! internet yelling!!!