Mo’ Better Blues| Family Progress

I was very interested in the discussion surrounding the “cycle” Bleek and Indigo found themselves buying into. It surprised me that a lot of people thought there was a lack of progress, and that they were simply falling into the same patterns and behavior Bleek’s parents had before him. It seemed to me the repetitive narrative at the end of the film actually pointed out the differences in the Bleek’s actions, as opposed to acting as a repeat of the opening scene.

In the opening scene of Bleek’s childhood, his mother is the dominant figure in the film, demanding he practice his scales and berating her husband for “spoiling him [Bleek] rotten”. She is a lot more aggressive and accusatory than Indigo is. Indigo seems to be a lot more supportive, her relationship with Bleek is much stronger and seems more like a partnership than Bleek’s parents’ relationship. While Bleek’s mom is forcing Bleek to continue his lesson, his father is in the adjacent room watching the baseball game, almost completely disconnected from the rest of the family until he comes into plead with Bleek to listen to his mother. Then, as quickly as he can he returns to his baseball game, all the while muttering in annoyance he had to miss part of it. In the final scene, Bleek and Indigo are giving the trumpet lesson together. Though Indigo does repeat the same interaction with her child’s friends outside on their front steps, she’s a lot friendlier and amicable. The biggest difference in this scene, besides the family dynamics and difference in tone from both Bleek and Indigo, is how Bleek allows his son to end his lesson short and join his friends outside. This for me signaled a key difference in the ideals of success and what Bleek was willing to sacrifice for it. While he was a young adult pursuing his career, he put his trumpet first and didn’t care who he cast aside for it.

Though the end scene was structurally identical to the opening scene, I would argue that it was far from stagnant, and in actuality showed a lot of progress in Bleek as a man, and their familial relationship as a whole.

Bleek Doing Better

YoungBleek_MoBetta YoungMiles_MoBetta

The opening scene and closing scene are nearly identical in the words used and the setup of the household with minor differences in the delivery of the words. Additionally, in the last scene the kids were playing a football instead of baseball. I am assuming the ending scene occurs 20+ years after the opening since the boy has just had his 10th birthday (assuming Bleek was 10 in the first scene and is in his 20s when he had decided to be with Indigo). A key difference is that Bleek wasn’t allowed to leave the house, but in the ending scene Miles was allowed to leave. I feel like this says a lot about the significance of being able to interact with others as a child. In Bleek’s childhood his mom and dad had no respect for each other: his mom and dad talked over each other. Bleek even back talked his parents. Throughout the movie Bleek misused both of his women and did not respect the wishes of Shadow as his partner. It seems like this scene is tying all of those things into the beginning where Bleek wasn’t allowed to go outside and interact with his peers. Bleek has learned from his experiences and is now going to make sure his son’s life doesn’t go the way that his life did. In the closing scene there’s noticeably more mutual respect between Bleek and Indigo. The television is off. He’s paying attention to his son and actually helping him with his lessons as opposed to his dad who just sat at the television watching baseball. Then he makes the decision to let his son go outside and play. In this last scene Spike Lee is highlighting the individual growth of Bleek from the beginning to the ending of the movie. However, the fact that Bleeks childhood is similar to his son’s childhood shows a lack of growth for black people as a race: 20+ years later the same scene is still relevant.