A new movie is coming out by the American director and film producer Spike Lee. The title CHIRAQ is apt and comes from a terrifying statistic that the murder rate in Chicago has exceeded the number of deaths in Iraq. In other words a war is being waged in Chicago, and so far the city, state and Federal Government have been powerless to stop it.
Year To Date Shot & Killed: 383 Shot & Wounded: 2191 Total Shot: 2574 Total Homicides: 433.
Lee could have come out with a hard hitting documentary, review the situation, while spotlighting a few cases to expose this national tragedy, but he has reached back into history to use a far more powerful weapon: satire.
Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.
I can understand why satire is feared by kings, governments, and politicians. Why do you think Saturday Night Live can be a driving force in how we view an issue or a politician? Satire cuts thought ‘talking points’ and personas displayed by those in power. Artists and writers have fled for their lives when they used satire to make their point. It has been used in cartoons, movies, stories and plays.
Mr. Lee has taken the play titled Lysistrata, written by the Greek playwright Aristophanes, to make his point. What is the basis of the play? Women deny men sex until they stop killing each other. It was originally staged in 411 b.c. It was about the Peloponnesian War which was an all out struggle between the nation states of Athens and Sparta. The title character Lysistrata comes up with a plan to end the continual grind and destruction of this war.
Mr. Lee is not the first to revision this play, but he is the first to make it glaringly REAL. We may not be able to sympathize or empathize with a people fighting it out in the hills of Greece thousands of years ago. Maybe their political objectives are lost to time, and a little too far back in the midst of history for us to care. However; set it in the NOW, with characters that seem familiar, it has the potential to be powerful. I have not seen the film to date. A link to a trailer is attached to this article. If you get to see the film, please put your comments on the blog.
What I applaud Mr. Lee about is his use of Lysistrata; to put meat on the bones; to make it sing once more.
I lived near Michigan Avenue in Chicago. The best trauma center was at Northwestern Medical Center that was just down the street from my apartment building. Anybody who has visiting the ‘Windy City’ will know the area as Streeterville. In just the one year that I lived in that area I heard a continuous wailing of sirens as ambulances made their way north from the south side. I will be first to bow to criticism. I will be the first to admit that maybe I presumed too much. I know what directions the ambulances were coming from. It was always from the south and west side. The headlines in the newspapers and the lead stories on the 5:00 news were always the same.
And the sirens keep coming.