Author: blake199

He Got Game: The Mixed Race Romance

I recently watched He Got Game, one of Lee’s films that we did not watch in class, and the sexual relationships in the movie were particularly striking. I thought this blog would serve to further @cobblehillbilly’s blog post about Lee’s portrayal of predominately single race relationships. For the most part, I agree with Cobblehill in that the majority of Lee’s films depict only one type of romance and completely negate the possibility of a bi-racial romance ( School Daze, Malcolm X, Chiraq, and Mo’ Better Blues). However, He Got Game was quite different as it didn’t ignore the idea of bi-racial relationships but rather it negatively portrayed the concept of bi-racial relationships throughout the movie. While it is clear Jesus is “in love with his girlfriend”, he apparently doesn’t care about her enough to not be enticed by the “crazy white college girls” that line the halls waiting for him. It is one thing for him to be a highly touted recruit and have this abnormal experience, it is another for his girlfriend, Lala, to further categorize the white girl as “crazy”.  Why would Lee have one of his characters make such a sweeping allegation about calling all white college girls crazy?

The negative connotations of bi-racial relations are further perpetuated when Jesus is discussing college with Lala and he proclaims: ” My mom would be rolling over in her grave if she knew I was with a white girl.” It is just a small line in a movie, but in accordance with all of Lee’s other films and works it becomes an odd quote that clearly opposes the idea of bi-racial relations. I am not saying this is Lee’s opinion, but it is certainly a clear message that is being sent throughout the film. Thus, I ask, what gives? Should Lee try harder to portray successful  bi-racial relations or does he genuinely believe that the idea of them causes mothers to roll over in their graves? Are there any successful bi-racial relationships in his films that I am negating or haven’t come across? Also, thanks again to cobblehillbilly for starting this dialogue.

Katrina Refugees

One of the parts that stunned me about the film was the labeling of the hurricane victims as refugees. While some may attempt to make it a matter of semantics, I found it to be one of the more alienating and disrespectful media portrayals in recent memory. While the “nicest” definition I found of a refugee was “one seeking refugee” the majority of the definitions I came across contained some form of transnational travel due to war or persecution. Spike certainly did an excellent job in showcasing the outrage and backlash by individuals of New Orleans and other prominent figures ( Al Sharpton), but I couldn’t help but be moderately shocked by the lack of reaction of the audience. It was clear at this point of the film that the citizens of New Orleans were surviving in unbearable conditions but to be labeled in a manner that practically “un-Americanizes” a city and class of people was a lot to handle. What made me particularly upset is that the media became another system or institution that hindered the city’s recovery efforts. It is clear that the media is an incredibly powerful force in society but if they were to have covered this catastrophe differently would the city have been better off?  I have attached a small graph on Americans views on refugees over time. While none of these refugee groups are Americans, it shows how the general American public usually dislikes or is adverse to helping or supporting groups of individuals that are labeled refugees. Thus, while political actors and governmental agencies were extremely detrimental, I believe the media is equally as responsible for the negligence in handling this situation.

US Public Opinion Graph

Wake Up! Bernie Sanders and Spike Lee

With the semester winding down I thought that I would touch on one of the ideas that Lee constantly incorporates into his movies, the notion of “Waking Up”. The message of waking up society is clearly present in School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and Chiraq but it has recently trickled into our everyday news with Lee’s endorsement of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. It is one of the few times, if not the only, where a major filmmaker has teamed up to shoot a political ad for a candidate.

What I found to be most interesting about the campaigns is how Spike Lee is no longer embedding messages in his films for his audiences to pick up, but rather he is proactively sending a clear and direct message about the state of change that needs to occur in America. A lot of the films we have watched this semester have told us to “wake up” but have provided no clear instructions or method on how we can do so, thus it is interesting to hear Lee claim that voting for a particular candidate will assist in “waking up” American society.

Attached are a short Soundcloud clip that was released before the South Carolina primary and a longer, five minute ad targeted to the greater United States population.

Rise Up!Spoken Word Even

Last week I attended the event, Rise Up! Spoken Word Even, featuring Diné (Navajo) poet, Hannabah Blue, in Frost Library. At first glance, I was unsure of how this poetry reading  from a indigenous women would connect  with our class or how it at all pertained to themes of Spike Lee, but my skepticism was quickly altered. While there was a variety of poems, not only from the speaker but students as well, the discussion and poems primarily focused on the idea of healing by sharing with others. A lot of the times I watch some of Spike’s films and am stuck wondering, well, what now? What is that I can do besides try to perhaps “wake up”? This talk was extremely different in that way as she used some edgy and powerful poems to not only break down and make fun of  indigenous stereotypes, but she was also able to connect with the audience and garner their support. Furthering the poems, another woman decided to sing a native song with a little girl whom I believed was her daughter. While I certainly couldn’t understand the language, there was a soothing nature in not only the sounds of the song, but in the message that this woman was passing on her culture to the next generation. Simply being proud of heritage and showing the passion to pass it on was something inspiring. What I took away from the poems was that there is an immeasurable healing power simply by reaching out to others and sharing similar experiences. The last poem she shared, ” The Cross I Bare”, had a clear message that love was the solution to her problems and it could easily be the solution to yours. She ended her poem, and her talk, with a line that stated ” the cross I bare is the cross of unity.” This particular line stuck with me because everyone has extremely different backgrounds and stories but the issues individuals and societies face are much easier tackled when they are discussed with others. In connecting all of this to the class, I have found that watching the film screenings has been far more beneficial due to the fact  you feel connected with the class as you share the emotions and the pains of Spike’s films. Do others agree that healing and addressing problems is much more powerful and beneficial when done in a group rather than alone?

“German Soccer Team Posts Blackface Photo To Fight Racism”

I forgot to post this article a few weeks ago when I first ran across it but was wondering what other people in the class thought of this “motion of solidarity.” While I find it to be particularly odd, especially considering the conversations we had early in the semester revolving around Bamboozled and the history of blackface, it appears that the team is gaining a fair amount of praise for this. Not to rehash the conversations we have already had but is there even an acceptable time for blackface? I am certainly no expert on the topic and its history so I would love to hear what people think. Also, is anyone from Germany? It appears that blackface is much more common there as the article states “Germans, however, do not have the same view on blackface, generally speaking. It remains a popular part of the Karneval celebration, which has a tradition of costumes and mockery.” In conclusion, I guess I was sort of confused by this movement and was looking for some other perspectives on it.

I attached the link to a previous blog post on Blackface below.