Of Course Chiraq Looks Insane, Because Spike Lee Is Insane Too » VSB

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Of Course Chiraq Looks Insane, Because Spike Lee Is Insane Too

The first thing you have to realize when assessing the work of Spike Lee, movie director, and understanding the words and actions of Spike Lee, human person, is that Spike Lee is clearly and completely insane. But not insane in a shit on your own knuckles and fling it at an Uber driver way. Or even a “I’m not coming to Thanksgiving this year unless someone promises to put a full-sized yam in Uncle Harry’s mouth so he can’t rant about abortions and pre-paid legal again” way. (Basically, he’s not Ben Carson.) No, Spike Lee is “Arthur Edens” (Tom Wilkinson) in Michael Clayton. His insanity manifests as unfettered lucidity. His only objective in life, only purpose, is telling the truth, regardless of how people perceive it (the truth) and him. Now, whether his version of the truth is actually true is inconsequential. What matters is his fanatical pursuit of it and his complete and utter apathy to how he’s perceived. 

This state of being can also be described as “giving no fucks.” There are other celebrities (Rihanna, Tom Hardy, Vladimir Putin, etc) known for also existing in that space. But when your public persona is crafted around the idea that you give no fucks, it’s proof that you give enough fucks to craft a public persona around the idea that you give none. Spike Lee, however, doesn’t even give enough to want people to know he’s out of them. He just produces consistently insane work and says consistently insane things, and allows us to assess them however we choose to. Consider Jungle Fever, a movie about the crack epidemic and its effect on cities and families that’s hiding inside of a movie about an interracial love affair. Only an insane person would create this movie that way. Only an insane person would name the main characters Flipper and Gator. Only an insane person would conjure and craft this amazing fucking scene.

Consider School Daze, a movie released when he was 30 years old. This is great movie. It is also a movie clearly made by an insane person. Only an insane person would create a movie about the HBCU, film it at Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark (the nexus and genesis of the Black bourgeoisie), show all of the dirt — the classism, the colorism, the effete administrators — and then say “Fuck it. I’m going to make this a musical.” He did not care that the people at Spelman and Morehouse and Clark would be so offended that he had to finish filming at Morris Brown. Again, he just wants to tell us — Black people and White people — his truth about us.

When you accept this, that Spike Lee possesses a very particular grade of sincerely fuck devoid insanity, his work makes more sense. Sometimes it works like hell (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, When the Levees Broke, Four Little Girls). Sometimes it doesn’t (She Hate Me, Bamboozled). And sometimes it leaves you wishing Spike Lee had made the movie a bit less Spike Lee (He Got Game).

And, after viewing the trailer to Chiraq, it looks like a quintessential Spike Lee joint. Everything we’ve come to know and love and hate about his work seems to be present here. Counterintuitive casting decisions. Intentionally provocative and antagonistic subject matter. The absurd bordering on completely batshit — and kinda, sorta, pornographic — sexual imagery and politics. The unambiguous allusions to classical works. The conglomeration and congealing of genre. Samuel L Jackson. Its almost as if he makes movies for audiences who have never seen an actual movie before. Which is genius. And, again, insane. Because Spike Lee is insane too.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Jessica

    Am I supposed to take Nick Cannon as a gangsta seriously?

    • If we can swallow Lorenze Tate as O-Dog from menace to society, Nick cannon might as well be Nicky Barnes.

      • htxgoodfella

        That was one of LT best roles.

      • panamajackson

        To be fair, for most people, that was our first time seeing Larenz Tate in a role. So he WAS O-Dog. It was more confusing seeing him in roles afterwards b/c O-Dog was the starting point and he did it so well, we kind of thought that’s who he was.

        • Aly

          Good point.

        • That’s kind of my point. If we can still see O Dog in Larenz, or Matt Damon and Mark Walberg as action heroes we can give Nick Cannon a chance to actually play somebody that’s a G.

        • miss t-lee


        • Vanity in Peril

          I first saw him in the Inkwell. I was most confused.

  • Kat

    i watched. Blinked. Didn’t watch again.

  • Aly

    Nick Cannon and John Cusack? Yeah, that’s some weird casting. Looking forward to seeing it, though.

  • TheOtherJerome

    It looks amazing!

  • Pinks

    Those thighs though. *heart eyes emoji*

    • #word, makes me wanna do some squats.

      • Pinks

        and then I see cake, and i’m back to square 1

    • PhlyyPhree

      Was just thinking the SAME thing. Smh. #priorities

      • Pinks

        She been #bae since Dear White People

        • #2 celebrity wife after Yaya.

          • I adore Yaya! She cemented this adoration back during her ANTM days when she walked around the house with a sweatshirt that had the word “Respeito” on it, talking about how some of the girls in the house lacked respect.

            • Cake211

              She ascended to the upper echelons of Black Goddessness when she rebuked the fake kente cloth kufi. I was mad they made her apologize for that cuz she was right.
              That and she was a former dancer that knew how to use that experience to commit consistant model slayage
              Eva was gorgeous and a good model, but Yaya def proves that winning the war is better than winning the battle lol

              • Yep, yep, yep. All of this!

          • Damon Young

            might have mentioned this before, but the wife person’s closest friend from college is yaya’s bff. which means…nothing, really. but i just like to share that because i love yaya

            • So you’re saying you have an in that you’re willing to offer?

        • PhlyyPhree


          • outlyer06

            since mad men

      • Rose

        Me too!

    • Her hair, too! Oh, how I love her hair.

      • YES!!!! She is my hair crush– my hair is a fraudlent mix of 3c, 4a, 4b & for the life of me I can not get a gangsta fro likes hers :(

        • GirlMelanie86

          Loving the hair as well. I hate to ask because I hate that we do this to one another (but obviously I don’t hate it that much because I’m about to ask), but is that all her up there? It looks like it’s all hers but you can’t tell these days with the natural looking weaves and crochets that we wear.

          • I think in the photo for this post that is all her hair. I’d hazard a guess that she uses pieces for fullness for some red carpet looks.

    • yesh

      • uNk


      • Her and Nicole Beharie are on the All-SC team.

      • PhlyyPhree

        Lawd. Those. Thighs.

        • tgtaggie

          Girl looks so good, I want to put her on a plate and sop her up with a biscuit. It looks like the Lawd took a couple of extra minutes making her. lol.

          • LadyIbaka

            Lol!!! Awwww!!! Hey Tgt!!

      • outlyer06

        my new celebrity obsession……

        that hair…

        dem thighs…

        praise white baby jesus!

    • she

      She’s on Lebron’s Survivor’s Remorse, every time I watch that show she makes me want to go to the gym.

    • Listen. She got a brotha ready to risk it ALL for them chocolate thighs.

    • CheGueverraWitBlingOn

      I cannot approve of this message any more. I literally just gave thanks to the Creator for crafting this.

  • Ani-Q

    I cant wait for this to come out!!! It looks so good! Many have adapted the greek comedy Lysistrata before but Spike Lee rendition should be f*ing awesome.

  • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

    Just gonna share my thoughts from le Book of Face:

    A few thoughts.

    1. I still hate this title. I hate that term. For a slew of reasons. And the fact it was made by someone who has no personal ties to the city and would have a FIT if some outsider made a similar film about NYC.


    3. Nick. Cannon. Is. Rapping. About. Chicago. … ????????

    So, while I know this film is satirical and exaggerated for effect, this film could have been made anywhere and seems very UN-Chicago. But… we’ll see.

    ETA: And no, an appearance/cameo by yuppie northsider John Cusack don’t count as a representation of where and what “Chi-raq” is.

    • uNk

      “seems very UN-Chicago”
      I was thinking the same, like I feel this could have been filmed about a bunch of different areas, but we shall see how Spike ties it in

    • haute_coutoy

      I tried to unhear Mr NCredible on the soundtrack. Major side eye. Great business man… but stahhhp the rapping sir. Just no.

    • “1. I still hate this title. I hate that term. For a slew of reasons. And the fact it was made by someone who has no personal ties to the city and would have a FIT if some outsider made a similar film about NYC.”

      No one (with good sense) wants their home town to have the moniker of a war zone or something derogatory.*

      *I have referred to my hometown as “Perdition” on several occasions.

      • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

        Thing is, I know violence happens here. Don’t Don’t even deny it. And the rates were crazy for some summers. But it seems more like sensationalizing when Chicago holds this “crown” in the media and public opinion when the Chi is not even #1 in terms of murder rate.

        • Crime rates go up everywhere in the summer.
          I assumed a lot of the coverage was overblown by the national press. This American Life gave [me] the best insight on everything from the perspective of high school kids.

          • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

            Love that podcast!

    • The real farce is that we can lose more American citizens in a major city than in an active war zone. I think that is what Spike is getting at so the the title is necessary as is.

      • uNk

        Im going to specifically look for that line somewhere in the movie when I see it. If he does make this reference, ill be impressed. I often find myself missing his hidden “message” within his messages in plane sight

      • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

        America is inherently violent and this isn’t something special in Chicago. So I still maintain that it could’ve been made anywhere in this country.

        • Spike would probably agree that this is an American story that happens to be set in Chicago, sort of like Native Son.

          Did you ever get out of the air mattress??? We need updates.

    • StillSuga

      From what I saw in the trailer, John Cusack is going to be giving a Father Pfleger (St. Sabina) impression, which is already going to have half the south side ready to send it up…

      • Tonja (aka Cheeks)

        Yup he is, and I’m surprised he didn’t make a cameo as HIMSELF lol

  • -h.h.h.-

    rest in peace, Tyshawn Lee.

    black li(*smuggled out of sight, internet shut off*)

    • hah.

      • -h.h.h.-

        shame on us males that say female. #aintchanginmysyntaxthough

      • GirlMelanie86

        Must know where I can buy this sweatshirt.

      • GirlMelanie86

        Found it. Link below if anyone else likes it.

      • miss t-lee

        This sweatshirt.
        Love it mayne.

  • TinaBang

    The pursuit of “truth” (or truth as perceived by him) was the basis of a thesis that I wrote about Spike in undergrad, so I’m glad that you made that point. I’m a HUGE Spike Lee fan. However, I am a bit skeptical about Chiraq. I think I would be less skeptical if his work in recent years hasn’t been so all over the place, and at times, awful (see: Red Hook Summer).

    My primary issue is his use of such over the top satire for THIS particular issue. It worked for School Daze, but it seems misplaced here. I’m hoping and praying that I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    • uNk

      I swear I recognize you from somewhere, and your name sounds familiar. Is your IG @thebangsgram or something similar

      • Pinks

        *slides in DMs waiting for y’all to show up*

        • uNk

          LOL not even like that, she looks really similar to somebody I follow is all.
          You have IG? (No sliding in no type of DMs I know you’re married lol)

          • Pinks

            Just joshin – it was the perfect setup for some innanets creepery lol

            And yes, I do – @ayopinks
            Buy my tooth whiteners and waist trainers, please

            • uNk

              Lol I thought you were joking about the waist trainers and whiteners, I followed though

              • Pinks

                LMFAO..I don’t really sell them – I’m just an a z z making fun of the IG models who do. Link up!

                • uNk

                  LOL!!! oh ok becuse I saw your Caption for your page and was like ehh, I better not be flooded with adds haha

        • tgtaggie

          Cuffin season is real on VSB this season. lol. Ninjas shooting shots left and right. lol.

          • Pinks

            I just want pics, or at least an anonymous recap posted obscurely in the middle of the night like a Bey album.

            • tgtaggie

              Me too. Ish like that don’t happen to me so I’m kinda interested in seeing how that works. lol.

      • TinaBang

        ha, yes @thebangstagram. Though it’s deactivated currently.

  • This reading of Spike Lee only makes me love him more. I just really hope the movie has people float-walking like back in the day.

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