December 4, 2015 will be met with intensity by the city of Chicago. The release of the much-anticipated film Chiraq has the world-class city buzzing with hurt, insult, and questions. December 4th will reveal the message that respected film director Spike Lee will send out to a clueless world about what is going on in a city now known as Chiraq. The trailer to the film was released last week, promoting to the rest of the country another possible great masterpiece by Lee. Residents of Chicago, however, were not entertained by the trailer. As a matter of fact, they were offended, raising an eyebrow at Lee.
Every writer, musician, actor, and director is faced with a creative choice in which to express himself or herself in their work. A simple change of a note or an emotion in a song or a scene will set the tone and mood of an entire performance. Many are questioning Lee’s choice as a director to turn countless murders of innocent children in the streets of Chicago into a satire. Where is the humor in nine-year-old Tyshawn Lee playing outdoors and lured into an alley to be executed? Where is the laughter in 20-year-old Kaylyn Pryor coming home from visiting her grandmother, celebrating her first modeling contract and getting gunned down as she waited on a bus? The two did not know one another, but met their early demise within the same hour and just a couple of blocks away from one another. Please tell me where is the humor?
A murder of an innocent, young African-American occurs everyday on the streets of Chicago’s south and west side. Many wonder how is it that Chicago’s death toll is mostly children. The theory of the Ku Klux Klan paying Chicago’s infamous gang leaders to kill off their own community has circulated throughout the city for many years. However, no one has had the courage to come forward to report the presence of the KKK within the Chicago police department. Gang recruitment is also a culprit. When a child is approached to join such gangs as the Gangster Disciples or Satan Disciples and refuses, it is alleged that a family member of that child will be killed. If the child surrenders to joining the gang, his initiation is to kill for points. Again I ask you…where is the humor in that?
According to CBS, the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report revealed the city of Chicago had the highest violent crime rate at a reported 884.26 per capita. New York City came in at 596.7 and Los Angeles came in third at a 490.71. Residents of Chicago cannot turn on their television without seeing the heart wrenching coverage of a Black child’s murder. The victims have ranged from age six months to early 20s. As much as many would like to blame the victims somehow for their own deaths, investigations have revealed majority of the young lives lost were innocent of any gang affiliations. They were simply chosen.
Since many of Chicago’s child murder cases are never broadcast nationally, the city was hoping the film Chiraq would paint a very raw and real picture to the world about what is really going on in the city of Chicago. Instead the trailer to Chiraq sends the world a humorous message that if women cut their men off from sex, this could possibly be the solution to end the gun violence. Somehow I do not believe Tyshawn’s mother, who just laid her little boy to rest this week, would be at all tickled by this notion.
Lee addressed the outrage and concerns fired at him about the message his film will send. He responded, “Do not get it twisted!” Lee assured the families of Chicago that he would never make light of Black children being murdered. Lee is encouraging the residents of Chicago to go see the film. Desperately wanting to give the award-winning director the benefit of the doubt, fans of Lee’s work will be there to support the conscious filmmaker. With a star-studded cast which includes Samuel L. Jackson, Dave Chappelle, Nick Cannon, John Cusack, Angela Bassett, and the list continues, the film will have, without question, phenomenal performances.
Maybe Lee needed to spend a few months living with a family on the south side of Chicago during pre-production of Chiraq. Instead of being put up in a beautiful high-rise downtown Chicago overlooking the beauty of the city, Lee should have been given accommodations where he could fall asleep to the sounds of a shoot-out, screams, and police sirens. His Assistant would then awaken him to get dressed for breakfast and take him to a crime scene where a 10-year-old Black child lays dead in front of his own home clutching his favorite football. Maybe then satire would not have been the choice…