The trailer for Spike Lee’s upcoming film, Chi-raq, came out on Wednesday. In no time flat, people had quite a bit to say about the visuals, which lasted for only two minutes and 34 seconds. Many Chicagoans, including some well-known ones, criticized the film, assuming it was making light of a very serious problem in the city and around the country–gun violence. The film was shot in the city this past summer and will have a limited release in December, but before folks get the wrong idea about the movie and its message and slam it, Lee has stepped forward to make it clear that Chi-raq is about “serious business.”
Before releasing a new version of the trailer, which definitely has a more serious tone, Lee addressed critics of the trailer, and Chicago residents, in general, who weren’t pleased.
“The trailer was released, and there are very humorous moments in the trailer. Now, some people are getting it twisted and thinking this is a comedy. Chi-raq is not a comedy. Chi-raq is a satire. And there’s a difference between humor and comedy. In no way, shape or form are we not respectful of the situation that is happening in Chi-raq. In no way, shape or form are we making light of the lives that have been murdered with this senseless violence. So, people, don’t get it twisted. This film is about serious business. There are many films that we can look at in history in American cinema that treated a very serious subject matter and had humor in them.
There’s an old statement: ‘I got to laugh to keep from crying.’ Well, I think that’s apropos with Chi-raq. Don’t get it twisted. Don’t get it twisted.”
And while no one knows how the full story will play out just yet, according to reports, it is loosely based on Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata.” That classic comedy is about a woman named Lysistrata who persuades the women in Greece to withhold sex from the men in their lives as a way to force them to live peacefully and end the Peloponnesian War. For Chi-raq, Teyonah Parris plays that leading character, and the events of the play are shifted from Greece to the South Side of Chicago. The Peloponnesian War is swapped out for the gun violence plaguing that part of the city.
Lee is no stranger to satire. Films like School Daze and Bamboozled used humor to shed light and even ridicule issues we still face today (and people), including colorism and race matters in America. Indeed, satirical films aren’t for everybody, but it’s recommended that people not make any final conclusions (considering that many missed the satire in the original trailer) based on these short visuals. In comparison, I would say that Lee probably should have left the first trailer to stand on its own instead of trying to appease others–including a few people who just like to rip things to shreds because they have nothing better to do.
Check out Lee’s message to the people below and share your thoughts. Which trailer do you prefer?