Spike Lee is responding to critics of his latest movie project Chiraq by asking everyone to wait and see what he has in mind before judging it prematurely. Ever since the film project was announced, it has rubbed Windy City residents the wrong way — including Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Chiraq, a blend of “Iraq” and “Chicago,” is an unfortunate nickname that the Windy City picked up due to its reputation for high crime and violence. With the word Chiraq splashed across a film created by a well-known director, community leaders are up in arms about the title claiming that it could affect tourism.
But Spike Lee is defending Chiraq, a musical comedy based on the city’s gun violence, and refuses to budge on the title.
“Let’s not put property and profit over human life,” Lee said, tackling critics who fear for the film’s impact on city revenue.
“A lot of things have been said about this film [from] people who know nothing about the film. A lot of people have opinions about the so-called title of the film, again, [they] know nothing about the film. So we felt it was appropriate that we say what the narrative is. The filmmakers – not the people just judging from afar,” Lee said at a press conference on Thursday.
Several speakers, including actor John Cusack, who has a role in the film, advocated for Chiraq.
“Spike called me up and told me what he was up to. We met, he looked me in the eye, and he said, ‘Johnny, the only reason to do this film is to help save lives.’ The film is set in Chicago, but it could easily be any urban American city where poverty, violence, and desperation are so ever present. This film stands at a long and fine tradition of American films of conscience,” Cusack said.
Kevin Wilmott, Lee’s co-writer, assured residents that this film will be about hope, peace, justice and “taking ownership of the problem.”
Lee is moving ahead with Chiraq and reportedly wants to cast to Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven, and Common. Rumors were swirling that Kanye West would be a part of the cast, but the rapper’s camp shut that down. However, he might be part of the film’s soundtrack.
In closing, Lee said: “You don’t like it, you don’t like [it]. But wait, see it first.”