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ChiRaqMoviePosterLUMPENPROLETARIAT—With the complaints against the all-white 2016 Oscars making headlines, we might wonder which movies may have actually been snubbed by the nearly all-white, and all-male, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).  Of course, this inquiry necessitates screening as many of the 2016 Oscar-nominated, and not nominated, contenders as possible.

This worthy contender, although not nominated for anything during the 88th Academy Awards contest for 2015 films, is directed by Spike Lee, who was deemed worthy of an Academy Honorary AwardChi-Raq has been described as a “modern day adaptation of the ancient Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago.”  When in Chicago visiting family in 2015, I made it a point to see the poorest areas of Chicago.  I was shown much of Chicago, including neighbour hoods, such as Englewood, which is featured in Chi-Raq.  This film captures Chicago, as a symbol for any American city, in, both, its majesty and its travesty.

Chi-Raq is an “American satirical musical drama film” based on AristophanesLysistrata, a Classical Greek comedy play in which women withhold sex from their husbands as punishment for fighting in the Peloponnesian War.”  As I watched the film, I must admit, as the notion of a sex strike appeared, and as the protagonist Lysistrata appeared, Aristophanes never came to mind.  More influential to actualising the concept, in my mind, were the poetic lyrics of Stevie Wonder [1]:

That girl thinks that she’s so bad
She’ll change my tears to joy from sad
She says she keeps the upper hand
‘Cause she can please her man
She doesn’t use her love to make him weak
She uses love to keep him strong
And inside me there’s no room for doubt
That it won’t be too long
Before I tell her

But, in any case, Academy Honorary Award winning film director Spike Lee seems to be discouraged from producing the type of provocative films he’s been creating and directing more recently.

Yet, after some screenings and comparing the work, one can see how Spike Lee and Kevin Willmott may very well edge out most, if not all, of the nominees for Best Screenplay.  And one might see how Angela Bassett, as Miss Helen in Chi-Raq, may very well beat some, if not all, of the nominees in the Best Actress category.  But, perhaps, there really is a white supremacist culture, which discriminates against films populated with people of colour, which precludes a powerful actor, such as Angela Bassett from being fairly recognised for her work by the Academy.  Or maybe not.  Check out this and other 2015 films and decide for yourself.



Chi-Raq” (2015, official trailer)


Capitalism is a failed system.  Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources.  With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience.  And almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.  That’s the way this system works.  And, since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. in a communication to Andrew Young, one of his associates


[1]  “That Girl” by Stevie Wonder


[2 FEB 2016  00:02]

[Last modified 2 FEB 2016  00:22]