Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The ballad of Radio Raheem...


The other week, I watched Oprah's interview with film director Spike Lee. 

And during the course of the interview Spike announced that 2014 would mark the 25th anniversary of the film 'Do The Right Thing'. 

Now to me and a lot of others, this movie is something beyond an ordinary film, it not only represents an important documenting of ethnic strife in New York during the late 80's, but it also shows Spike defining himself as one of my generations greatest auteurs. 

Unfortunately, I'm one of the few people who didn't see this movie in theaters. 

I could only imagine the visceral impact this flick made in cinema auditoriums. 

I remember a white woman I knew who saw the film, said she felt like she was gonna' die behind an ethnic riot that would erupt in the theater. 

Seeing whitey that uncomfortable would have been worth the ticket price alone.

I remember how white critics said this film was going to start revolts throughout this country; like all the hell Black folks were catching at the time wasn't enough for us to shut this country down. 

But one thing more than any other stuck with me about this film...and let me explain what that was. 

About a year ago, Spike was on one of New York's 'urban' radio statons; either Hot 97, or one that plays predominately Hip Hop music.

But before I touch on that, let me say something about the co-opting of the word 'urban'.

Now, the white elite have turned the word 'urban' into a euphemism for 'Black'. And mind you, they've only done this recently.

I was reminiscing about the 1980's movie 'Urban Cowboy'; and how John Travolta starred in this film. And I was thinking, had this film been made today, it would almost have to be some comedy about a senseless brotha who sang country music or something.

But this is how recently the word 'urban' got tethered to Black people via the white elites and their american social order. 

But back to Spike and his film...Spike was on a 'Hip-Hop' radio station talking to one of the white bois who was a program director and who claimed to be 'down' with the culture. 

You know the type, white guy wearing a backwards baseball cap, some Sean John jeans and the new 'Jordans'. 

Spike was speaking about his 'kickstarter' fund-raising campaign when he and this white guy started talking about 'Do The Right Thing'. 

Spike was reminiscing about how white people always asked him the same question about the film; and that question was: why did Mookie throw the garbage can through the window of Sal's famous pizzeria?

To which the 'down' white boi replied, "Yeah...I was wondering about that myself."

I just shook my head. 

That's when Spike held a clinic showing the white boi how Mookie's garbage can throw came behind the death of his friend Radio Raheem; who he'd just seen get choked to death by the gestapo-like cops of the NYPD.  

To which the white boi uttered, "Okay...now I get it."

This speaks directly to the indifference of Black suffering in the eyes of white people. And even the 'down-ass' white boi, was saying to himself...okay Radio Raheem died, but why are you bothering Sal's store? (Sal, played by Danny Aiello)

And to break it down even further, what white people are really saying when they ask about Mookie's garbage can throw is, it's just another nig@er dead...so what's the problem?

That's why one motto I always keep with me is, never overestimate white people...or underestimate their capacity to hate Blacks.

What really irks me is when you're the only Black person around a bunch of whites and they're mad at you.

They've committed the greatest atrocities to our people, and yet they're still mad at us. 

Wanna' know why?

'Cause our existence in this country is a prime example of their capacity for inhuman wickedness.

Besides the fact that Black people, and Black men especially, are able to literally breed them out of existence, our presence is a constant reminder of how they treated us in the antebellum south and how intrinsically dastardly, under-handed and morally repugnant they really are. 

They don't have an ethical highground on anything; and we're living proof of that. 

The scene in this movie that touches me the most, or for me, this movie's most woeful scene is when Smiley, the character who's a bit slow and sold pictures of Martin King and Malcolm X, is holding his head and crying out in pain after seeing Radio Raheem murdered.

Even though he was slow, he understood the gravity of what he saw.

And who could ever forget Radio Raheem's 'love vs. hate' soliloquy with those dope four finger rings...brilliant. 

And the story of Radio Raheem's killing struck such a chord with residents in Black neighborhoods, that even though he was a fictional character 'bombers' or graph artists erected 'burners' or murals to his memory. That spoke to how common an occurrence young Black men dying in our neighborhoods at the hands of police was and is. 

So, what I'll do to commemorate 'Do The Right Thing's'
anniversary is get the 'Criterion Collections' edition of this flick. 

Now, there is a DVD by Spike Lee called the 'Spike Lee Joint collection' that includes 'Do The Right Thing'; and I'd buy that, but I'm afraid it wouldn't have the 'special features' on the movie that I'm looking for.  

But what it does have is four more of Spike's films that include: Clockers, Mo' Better Blues, Jungle Fever and Crooklyn. 

I'll have to do more research and see which I'll buy; or, I might get 'em both.

But whichever DVD I purchase, I'll do what I usually do; pop the DVD in it's player and go straight to the 'special and bonus features' sections. 

So, I've said all that to say this, Spike deserves all the praise he gets not only for his films, but for having the courage enough to show his manhood through his films.

In the age of Tyler Perry's tranny minstrel shows, it's refreshing to see a Black man who's uncompromising in his approach and unwilling to settle for the white supremacist status quo, which is giving us movies like 'The Butler' and 'The Help'.

So Hotep and Kem Wesir to the Netjer/Neter/God Spike Lee!

Keep makin' your 'joints' Spike, 'cause your people appreciate you...ya' dig, sho 'nuff. 

Kem Wesir,

MontUHURU Mimia

P.S.

REMIX!

This is one of my favorite YouTube vids of Spike reaching the monetary goal for his 'Kickstarter' campaign.

Here, Spike shows how personal this journey was and how determined he is to overcome any of the film industry's obstacles.

Kudos Spike on your diligence, perseverance and mental fortitude. 

Warning: this video contains profanity. Viewer discretion is advised.


2 comments:

  1. I agree. I love Spike Lee movies. I especially love "Do The Right Thing". I wish we had more Spike Lee's out there that will take a risk for change in the movie industry. Like Public Enemy with Big Daddy Kane alway's say "Burn Hollywood Burn"!! John Singleton has done good movies too. But I wish he would get out there and take risk also. But everyone is an individual and I know he makes movies his own way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree more Black directors should take chances to put out more politically astute films. But not everyone wants to pay the price for the consequences of doing this.

      Thankfully, we still have Spike out there fighting the good fight!

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete