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Art

Spike Lee tackles the pandemic of racism

Spike Lee
US director Spike Lee reacts as he poses during a photocall after he won the Grand Prix for the film "BlacKkKlansman" at the 71st edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France. PHOTO | AFP 

Preceding the premiere of his new film, “Da 5 Bloods” which is streaming from today on Netflix, Spike Lee has been protesting online against racism and the lynching of George Floyd for the past fortnight.

The award-winning African American filmmaker whose catalogue of great movies includes BlacKKKlansman, Malcom X, Jungle Fever, Do the right thing and Chi-Raq has done it twice since George Floyd died on camera on May 26.

He once was in an interview with CNN that went viral on Twitter. That is when he spoke head-to-head and heart-to-heart about the lynching of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black security guard who died after a Minnesota cop kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The cruel deed was caught on camera and effectively ignited a fiery outrage among people not only across America but around the world, and which has yet to be quelled.

The other spontaneous act of public protest that Black America’s leading filmmaker produced immediately after Floyd’s murder is a short cinematic montage entitled ‘‘3 Brothers: Radio Raheem, Eric Garner and George Floyd.”

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The film short is painfully powerful and direct in that it splices together the dying moments of all three black men, each of whom was killed by policemen for no justifiable reason other than they had the power to do so.

Eric Garner was a street vendor selling cigarettes without a licence. Wrestled to the ground and then pinned to the ground as he pleaded, ‘I can’t breathe’ just as did George Floyd when he was pulled out of his car and pinned by the neck, both men were asphyxiated, one with a choke hold, the other with a knee to the neck.

Radio Raheem was killed similarly, but he was a prophetic character out of the Spike Lee movie, “Do the right thing”.

His murder in the film also elicited outrage among audiences who had known of stories like Raheem’s and now Eric Garner’s and George Floyd’s as well.

There was no text or dialogue to Lee’s “3 Brothers”. The visuals were enough to show the world why the protests are not stopping soon.

It is because the issue of racism and the indignity, injustice and impunity can no longer be tolerated. Lee’s film, “Da 5 bloods”, addresses similar themes since it grapples with racism. But it also blends gory comedy and war story with black history, multiple love stories and also the genre of crime thriller all in one film.

The biggest love is between the five black brothers who bonded for life (and the death of one) during the war. They all went separate ways after the war but are now reunited to return to Vietnam to find the remains of their best friend.

Told with multiple flashbacks, “Da 5 Brothers” premiere couldn’t be better timed to give the gist of why African Americans claim their primary pandemic is not Covid. It is racism, and it is racism’s antidote they’re looking for.

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