Sunday, October 13, 2019
Spike Lee :: essays papers
Spike Lee In 1995 I considered Spike Lee's gritty CLOCKERS one of the year's best films; recently I spotted its video in a clearance bin and picked it up. Upon re-viewing, I am struck again by its complexity. It is the first urban drama to depict inner-city race relations with the intricacy such a pervasive cultural issue demands. On the surface it resembles a whodunit, but its main concern is how drugs and violence contaminate entire communities, dramatized in the collapse of one African-American youth's life. (He chokes up blood the way some of us sweat.) This process is observed by a predominantly white police force that makes hollow attempts to keep order, and refuses to intervene with the community's gradual decline. Instead of characters with overt prejudices and plain racial allegiances-characters that are sterile symbols of bigotry rather than credible humans guilty of it-Lee gives us characters of casual racism. Most representative of this is Harvey Keitel's Rocco Klein, a white detective who cannot understand the culture surrounding him, which is a culture of narcotics, violence, and black-on-black crime. On his beat, drugs are less a problem than a lifestyle, murder resolves the tiniest of disagreements, and young mothers valiantly but vainly battle the influence young dealers have on their sons. Klein views the inner-city with contempt, but deep down he knows all the whores and dealers are human beings, too. Klein is introduced at the scene of a homicide, where the police handle the gruesome death with a clinical sense of detachment, cracking bad jokes and asking the bloodied corpse questions. Is it just a job, or is it racism?