Last week there was a lot of coverage in town about a new Spike Lee film that is set to be shot in Chicago, offering lots of opportunities for our actors and extras. The working title is “Chiraq” which is what caused the ruckus. There were many politicos who were upset about the working title as it appears to indicate that there is indeed a war going on in the streets of Chicago.
The actual purpose of the film is to tackle the issues of the violence that takes place in our Englewood neighborhood. Lee came forth to answer questions last week so that those who think they know what this film is about can get actual truths. While he did not clarify the exact foundation of the film’s story it is very clear to people who live in Chicago and watch the nightly news programs as well as pick up the newspapers (yes, there are still many who gather their news from the printed sheet called the newspaper), we must realize that Chicago has neighborhoods , as do other major cities, that are in fact “war zones” filled with gangs who are street soldiers of sort, protecting their turf from other gangs. Often , in these situations, as we find in war, errors take place and people are killed for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are the casualties of war!
While we do not have the exact details of the film scheduled to start shooting next month (June), we do know that the basis for the story is the ancient Greek Comedy “Lysistrata”, where the women of Greece band together to withold sexual favors until their streets are cleared of war. This being the case, if the premise of the story is that the women of Englewood tell their men they will get none if they do not quit the fighting and killing, where is the harm to the people of the area.
It is very possible that Lee is not doing his thing to convince us to get our heads out of the sand and wake up and smell the coffee. There is a war out there. Since it doesn’t seem to be ending, perhaps the satire of this story telling will wake up the people of the areas that are living with these problems and be the start of something much larger.
The rally last week turned a lot of heads s several of the people in attendance created a negative vibe.The Rev. Michael Pfleger, Co-writer Kevin Willmott and actor John Cusack along with members of Purpose over Pain may have turned people’s heads the wrong way.Mayor Emanuel, who cares about tourism and the effect this film could have on it, was also at the gathering. Perhaps the messages on their signs reading “Put The Guns down” and “Chiraq is here” should have instead read, “Chiraq can be avoided” and “Guns don’t kill, people kill”. These are expressions that can be viewed on a more positive note. This could have pleased the Mayor as well.
I plan on following this article up with more information as the filming gets closer to reality. I for one,think the title will changed and that Lee and his crew only want what is best for the people. A better understanding of the situations in specific neighborhoods where perhaps cutting the men off, would in fact rid the streets of the problem. Lee may be just the man to start something like this and “Do The Right Thing”!