By Dylan Deprey
Due to the number of deaths in the thousands, the city has earned the nickname Chiraq.
This term was coined after the murder rate in Chicago surpassed the number of deaths in the Iraq War.
When it comes to Hollywood, controversy can either hinder or skyrocket ticket sales.
This was especially true when it appeared that almost every Chicagoan was utterly upset with Spike Lee after the November release of the trailer for his film, Chiraq.
Many in the Chicago community felt that Spike Lee was either making fun of Chicago or exploiting the gang violence that plagues the streets.
Lee is known for his films like Do the Right Thing that have questioned controversial issues.
The film was a satire of the Greek comedy Lysistrata, by Aristophanes. Lysistrata is the story of how women banded together to end the Peloponnesian War by abstaining from sex with their husbands who are fighting in the war.
The movie centers around the war between rival street gangs the Spartans and Trojans (Athens and Sparta). Their battleground is the streets of the Englewood neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago.
After a seven-year-old girl is caught in the crossfire of a drive by shooting, Spartan gang leader Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon) is cut-off from sex by girlfriend Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) Lysistrata convinces the rest of the women in the community to follow in her footsteps to put an end to the senseless gun violence.
With this in mind, the film was overtly sexual and almost too ridiculous to watch at some points.
The idea that world peace is in direct correlation with women removing sex from their relationships is a hard pill to swallow… especially as the film rolls on for a rather long 118 min.
With the satirical storyline in mind, it did touch on many social issues that occur in the African-American community.
One scene that shouts to the audience was during the funeral of the young girl. Mother Irene (Jennifer Hudson) sobs as Fr. Mike Corridan (John Cusack) screams to the congregation.
Issues like the massive amounts of guns making their way into the city through iron pipeline and the toll this takes on the community are depicted with brutal honesty.
He also talks about the lack of jobs and the route to drug dealing in the community.
If you ask a suburban middle class mother what Chi-Raq means, she probably would not have a clue what you are talking about.
If you ask her who the rapper Chief Keef is, best bet she couldn’t answer that either.
If you ask her teenage son about it, he would have countless playlists on his iPhone.
For those that have zero knowledge of gang life in Chicago, Lee clearly depicts what most Chicago rappers talk about in their music: drugs, guns and girls.
The gang life in Chicago has changed drastically from the days of famous bootlegger Al Capone.
Teenage boys are susceptible to gunshots over anything, this even includes arguments on social media.
There are points in the movie when Dolmedes (Samuel L. Jackson), a local wise man addresses the audience and at one point asks two gang members to talk about how their lifestyle lead to crippling gunshot wounds.
Spike Lee had his heart in the right place when making this movie.
It opens the eyes of those that don’t know what the gang culture is in the streets of Chicago.
After looking past the rather unfathomable idea that no sex equals world peace, the audience can find snippets of hope in topics that need to be addressed to potentially end the violence in Chicago.