Sunday, May 9, 2021
Chi-Raq tackles guns, gangs with satire
By Sentinel Staff Report
Published December 3, 2015
Spike Lee. (courtesy photo)

Spike Lee. (courtesy photo)

Chi-Raq tackles guns, gangs with satire

Despite months of push-back from community members and politicians alike, Spike Lee’s most recent film, “Chi-Raq”, is set to premiere in theatres on Dec 4.

Featuring an all-star cast including Nick Cannon, Teyonah Parris and Wesley Snipes, “Chi-Raq” chronicles the lives of Chicagoans caught up in a world of guns, gangs, and death and one woman’s (Parris) plight to right the wrongs of her trigger happy boyfriend (Cannon) and his rival gang.


To some degree the film, which chronicles the lives of Chicagoans living with persistent gun violence, mirrors the often documented violence that occurs on Chicago’s South side.

Surprisingly, Lee chose to tackle the heavy subject matter using satire. Most of “Chi-Raq” is written like a Greek comedy – with musical numbers and rhyming. While the decision to illuminate the gun and gang problem on Chicago’s South side via satire might strike some as odd, Lee is unfazed.

“It’s not the first film in the history of American cinema that has dealt with serious subject matter with satire, with humor,” Lee said.

Artistic decisions aside, Lee’s choice to capitalize on a name and topic that many Chicagoans outright opposed, created major backlash from everyone from residents of the South side to Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

Still, the cast maintains that the film did its best to stay true to the city.

“My inspiration came from the community on the Southside of Chicago,” Cannon, who plays the lead role of rapper Chi-Raq, said.


Cannon noted that he traveled with Chicago-based community organizers, and learned about the city firsthand.

“I was forever grateful for them because I got to understand the community in a real way,” Cannon said. “From the family members and the loved ones who’ve been lost and the people responsible for it, ultimately it comes from a place of pain.”

Parris also recalled the moment when she spoke with Chicago-based mothers who lost their children and family members.

“Our entire film was shot on the Southside,” Parris said. “We just sat there and they shared their stories.”

For Parris, playing Lysistrata, the film’s main character who evolves from seductress to community activist, unveiled just how important individual power is as well.

“It only takes one person to be able to mobilize a community,” she said.

Categories: Entertainment
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