Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq is currently a topic of discussion across social media and the blogosphere. It tells the story of warring Chicago gangs in a South Side neighborhood where women have declared they won’t have sex until there is peace. Inspired by the classic play Lysistrata and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Nick Cannon and Angela Bassett, the movie has come under fire for its hyper-sexualized storyline, satirical tone and what some feel is an insensitive and exploitative take on the issues currently facing the city of Chicago. Wesley Snipes, who also stars in Chi-Raq as veteran gang leader Cyclops, has heard the critics. But Snipes dismisses the criticisms.
“That’s what people do. They have time to do that,” scoffed the 53-year-old actor. “When you’ve got nothing else going on in your life, you need something to complain about. Some people need something to complain about just to wake up in the morning.”
Last month, Snipes was on-hand with fellow frequent Spike Lee collaborators Denzel Washington and Samuel L. Jackson to present Lee with an honorary Oscar last month during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ seventh annual Governors Awards.
“Long overdue. It was fun, i had a great time. It was kind of surreal. Like I [said], at one point they wouldn’t even let us upstairs to the party,” Snipes says. “And here we are, getting an Oscar. He’s being honored.”
During his speech, Lee criticized Hollywood for what he considered only a superficial effort to embrace diversity, and no gains at all at the highest level of influence in Tinseltown.
“Everybody in here probably voted for Obama but when I go to offices, I see no black folks except for the brother man at the security who checks my name off the list as I go into the studio,” Lee said. “So we can talk ‘yabba yabba yabba’ but we need to have some serious discussion about diversity and get some flavor up in this. This industry is so behind sports it’s ridiculous. It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than be the head of a studio,” he continued. “Honestly, it’s easier to be president of the United States than the head of a studio or head of network.”
Snipes and Lee both show themselves to be aware of racial hurdles and make no qualms about being critical of the inequalities that create those obstacles. It’s unfortunate that Snipes is turning a deaf ear to any criticism of a film that seems to intentionally provoke. But the star doesn’t care to hear what anyone is saying and judging from recent appearances, neither does Lee.