Chiraq

We were given the first look at the highly anticipated (and, thus far, controversial) latest project from director Spike Lee, ‘Chiraq’, earlier today. The trailer, at just over 2 minutes long, reveals a star-studded line up with Nick Cannon, Dave Chappelle, and Samuel L Jackson at the forefront whom, despite the sensitive topic of the film, emit a somewhat satirical energy.

The film itself is based around the gun violence epidemic that has emerged throughout Chicago – the third largest city in the US – which has claimed over 2,500 victims this year alone, and the fictitious movement of black women to deprive their partners of sexual relations to stop them engaging in gun violence. Despite an arguably derisive plot (from what this trailer shows us), the topic of focus is still very much visible, as it should be, considering its gravity on current happenings in the city of Chicago and wider America. In fact, as stated in the opening sequences of the trailer…

“Homicides in Chicago, Illinois, have surpassed the death toll of American Special Forces in Iraq”

…a $1.7 trillion war. This staggering fact is not breaking news however: it is a fact that has been very prominent throughout the US for several years and resulted in the coining of the term ‘Chiraq’ – Chicago & Iraq.

The title itself has proven controversial, with various representatives (even the Mayor of Chicago) speaking out against Spike Lee’s decision to name the film ‘Chiraq’. Lee, who is never one to back down from confrontation, argued that despite the violent tone of the film, tourism and economic development will not be hurt – something which seems to be a cause for concern for Chicago officials.

The 'never-back-down' director himself, Spike Lee, sporting a Chi-Raq baseball cap.
The ‘never-back-down’ director himself, Spike Lee, sporting a Chi-Raq baseball cap.

Such disturbance in one of America’s most populous cities, however, is often the topic of discussion, most notably amongst the ‘black and ethnic-minority’ community with many big named artists rapping about the problems faced and actively participating in groups and movements against the gun violence. The history of such figures being vocal on the topic, coupled with the long-standing oppression and injustice at the roots of these issues will undoubtedly result in a nod of approval from the hip hop community, as did the socially charged NWA biopic earlier this year.

However, the crisis in Chicago still remains and is getting worse, with the homicide rate up by 18% from last year. Despite its dubious path thus far, perhaps “Chiraq” may shed some light on the situation and spread it to an even wider community.

The film, already being labelled as potentially Oscar-worthy, is set to hit the big screen on December 4th.

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