Tag Archives: Spike Lee

Red Hook Summer: On Post-Soul Culture And Spike Lee Talkin’ Smack

By Guest Contributor Naomi Extra

What shocked me most while watching Red Hook Summer was its striking similarity to the films of Tyler Perry and T.D. Jakes whose work Lee has openly criticized. In fact, many reviewers have put the film right in line with Perry’s films by describing it as a church movie. Red Hook has been criticized as preachy, messy in narrative structure and development, and sensationalist. All are valid critiques. They also seem ironic in light of the ongoing beef between Perry and Lee, which was ignited when Lee referred to the films of Perry and the like as “coonery and buffoonery.” And of course, the media loves this sort of melodrama.

Jules Brown as Flik in Red Hook Summer. Courtesy: aceshowbiz.com

Spike Lee’s newest film takes place in the projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn, where Flik (Jules Brown), a teenage boy from Atlanta, goes to stay with his grandfather, Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters) for the summer. Flik is a teenage Afro-Punk type: vegan, middle-class, afro-hawk, suburban speak. In contrast, Bishop Enoch is a Bible-thumping preacher and active member of his community. Amidst heavier themes of class, politics, religion, and generational difference, a budding romance between Flik and Chazz (Toni Lysaith) is also threaded through the film.

The question is, could Red Hook be Spike talking more smack, mocking the immensely popular church films of Tyler Perry and the like? I wouldn’t put it past him. When recently asked about the ongoing feud, Lee responded with a request: “No more Tyler Perry questions please” and later “peace and love, leave it at that.” And although he doesn’t speak of Perry directly, in a radio interview, Lee describes the film’s inception as a conversation between him and writer James Mc Bride. The two were discussing what they “felt was a sorry state of African American cinema.” With this film, Lee seems to have found a way to squash the beef and have the last word.

Mild SPOILER ALERT under the cut.
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Street Harassment And Race: A Sliding Scale

By Guest Contributor Chiquita Brooks, cross-posted from The Goddess Festival: Oshun Returns

Is it just me or has street harassment reached an all time high?! Granted, as women we learn pretty early on that men will “cat call” us at any given time they deem appropriate once we’ve walked out of our homes. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in the car at a red light with your mom, or if you’re a mother with your child in hand, at foot, in stroller, or on back, these factors will not deter some men from their quest to get your attention. Unfortunately, it has become common place that cat calling or street harassment is something that as women we “have” to deal with, preferably in silence.

Those of us who identify as LGBTQ are also subject to street harassment, especially if we refuse to wear clothes that are gender specific. I personally experienced the most vicious street harassment, as a queer woman of color. From threats of rape & even death threats simply because I was walking with my partner.
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Spike Lee Takes the Helm for OldBoy

Oooh, plot twist!

Deadline.com reports that Spike Lee is now attached to direct the American adaptation of Korean director Chan-wook Park’s awesome, creepy, and demented cult classic. (No word on if Will Smith is still attached to play Dae-su.)

See now, I’m both thrilled and apprehensive (instead of just plain old apprehensive). Spike Lee has one of the best shots of adapting Dae-Su’s character in a really interesting way, and still going with a black lead. And he can create that knot-in-your-stomach, smart crime drama tension I love to feel in the theater. And if Dae-su becomes black in the remake, I’d rather have Spike Lee at the helm than the typical Hollywood director. If he doesn’t, it would be awesome to see Daniel Dae Kim in the role, but with our luck, they’re gonna go with Keanu Reeves. Or Zach Effron. Or Chris Pine. Or maybe Robert Pattinson.

But casting aside, the hurdles are high on this one: the gruesome plot twists would probably freak out US censors, adapting such a complex story is a challenge without altering it, heavy expectations from the fanbase. This may well be a fool’s errand.

Then again, The Departed, which was an aight (though racist) reboot of Infernal Affairs won a bunch of awards. So maybe a fucked up reboot won’t matter unless you know what you’re missing.

The Racialicious Review for If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise Part II

By Arturo R. García

The conclusion of If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise stays a little closer to home than Part 1 did, but, again, Spike Lee succeeds at telling this set of new stories through the connections not just in New Orleans, but throughout the Gulf region, before heading home for an uncompromising conclusion.

This time around, Lee starts his story with an examination of the New Orleans school system, where a look at the efforts to rebuild the Dr. King Jr. Charter School – now the only school in the Ninth Ward – segues into a discussion over the state of Louisiana’s take-over of New Orleans schools and the opening of the Recovery School District.

As the Dr. King School gets a visit from President Obama, and former Chicago school CEO Paul Vallas is brought in to serve as superintendent, we learn the recovery is far from easy: there’s mistrust of both Vallas’ approach and the teachers now working in the district; and allegations that the lingering traumas from Hurricane Katrina are still going untreated, leading to not only health issues but an increase in crime and violence: “The criminals are getting younger and younger.”

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The Racialicious Review of If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise, Part 1

By Arturo R. García

The best, most brutal thing about Spike Lee’s If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise is how it flows, showing us not just how the various residents and systems in New Orleans are connected, but how the breakdown of help for it and the state of Louisiana in the wake of both Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill has infected the community on a variety of levels.

To do this, Lee brings back many of the residents viewers met in his last foray to the Crescent City, When The Levees Broke; Phyllis Montana-Leblanc (who also appears in Treme) opens the film with the eponymous poem seen above. From there, Lee veers into what might have been used as a “happy ending” for another film: a look at the local celebration of the New Orlean Saints’ Super Bowl win. From there, the bloom off the rose starts falling, and the reality of the situation is brought home by local activist M. Endesha Jukali: “After the Superbowl on that Sunday,” he tells us. “I was gonna have to get up and figure out how I was gonna eat the next morning, how I was gonna pay my bills, how I was gonna be able to survive. I’m not a who dat. I’m a who is that?”

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Of Push, Precious, Percival, and “My Pafology”

by Latoya Peterson
erasure

The reality of popular culture was nothing new. The truth of the world landing on me daily, or hourly, was nothing I did not expect. But this book was a real slap in the face. It was like strolling through an antique mall, feeling good, liking the sunny day and then turning the corner to find a display of watermelon-eating, banjo-playing darkie carvings and a pyramid of Mammy cookie jars.

—Thelonious Monk Ellison (Percival Everett), Erasure

I knew that before I wrote a word on what I felt about Push and Precious, I was going to have a problem.  One, my personal experience colors a lot of my perception of the novel and the movie.  While Precious’ narrative is not close to mine (I’m way closer to Lola, from Oscar Wao) there were lots of notes of familiarity.

A few too many for comfort.

In discussions with the Racialicious crew, Thea and I actually got really close to parsing out why I feel so strongly about the work.

Thea wrote:

On the topic of African American lit…I am reading Don’t Erase Me right now by Carolyn Ferrell.

I guess it is supposed to be stories of black girls in the ghetto. The stories I’ve read so far are all about incest. So this trend is starting to bother me. Though I guess it could just be what I’m reading…

I wrote back:

It’s not really a trend if it happens a lot.

My sister and I were *not* molested by anyone growing up.  That made us a rarity.

Carmen pointed out that works that do feature incest and black people (like The Color Purple, The Bluest Eye) do tend to get critical acclaim and recognition, and wondered why that was. I  thought that the issue may be that white reviews, book publishers, etc, only know how to respond to black dysfunction, but that doesn’t erase the fact that so many of us go through this type of abuse.

Then Thea got all MFA on us, writing:

Just to clarify I didn’t mean that I thought sexual abuse was a trend. That would be a pretty awful thing to say. It’s more that I’m reading a deluge of books for an AfAm lit class that are about incest, or about black dysfunction in the inner city.

It’s distressing because while I don’t doubt for a second that this happens and that this is something that needs to be talked about and talked about until it stops happening, I am also quite sure that there is a lot more to being poor and black in the city than incest and family dysfunction. Continue reading