It would be safe to say that Spike Lee’s Chi-raq trailer isn’t what people were expecting. The reviews have been mixed, but Rhymefest thinks Lee “exploited” the people of his home city by making the film into an adaptation of Lysistrata, the Greek play where women withheld sex to end war.
Lee trivialized Chicago’s violence epidemic, Rhymefest says, and failed to cast actual natives of the Windy City in main roles (besides Jennifer Hudson). “I’d say [Spike Lee], you owe Chicago an apology. And you owe Chicago your presence to repair the damage,” he said in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times . “I would like you to come to Chicago and speak to
more community leaders and Father [Michael] Pfleger [of St. Sabina Church]. Get with the people who have programs in the community that are effective, and support those programs.”
It turns out that Rhmyfest was already familiar with the Chi-raq’s plot before the trailer debuted. He received a copy of the screenplay from an unnamed source. “I saw the trailer. It looks just like the script I read, and it verified everything I thought. I was more shocked when I saw the trailer than when I was reading the script. I grieved for the 9-year-old little boy who was shot [Tyshawn Lee], and now a comedy [Chi-Raq] is being made about death in Chicago.”He basically feels like Lee chose the wrong path with this one, and doesn’t like that the Brooklyn native’s film compares the situation in Chicago to an actual war. “THAT’S how we want to depict our community? THAT’S the answer?” Lee failed to use writers from Chicago too, which could’ve made the story more authentic.
“I just want to say I’m a fan of Spike Lee, and also fan of some of the films he has made,” he continued. “But this is a perfect example of somebody not from Chicago who comes to Chicago and exploits the violence and the situation without leaving anything sustainable in its place Either way, Rhymefest is willing to “apologize” to Lee if the film turns out to be better than he thought.