Spike Lee's modern-day adaptation of the ancient Greek play “Lysistrata” by Aristophanes, “Chi-Raq” is set against the backdrop of gang violence in Chicago. Beautiful Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) is in love with aspiring rapper Demtrius “Chi-Raq” Dupree (Nick Cannon), but she is disturbed by the bloody war between his Spartan gang and the rival Trojans, led by Cyclops (Wesley Snipes). After Trojans set fire to her apartment while she’s in bed with Chi-Raq, Lysistrata moves in with her neighbor Miss Helen (Angela Bassett), a book-loving peace activist who lost her daughter years before to a stray bullet. When Patti, an 11-year-old neighborhood girl, is accidentally killed in a drive-by shooting, her grieving mother (Jennifer Hudson) pleads with anyone who witnessed the crime to come forward. But even after a reward is offered by a local congregation led by fiery anti-gun-violence activist (John Cusack), no one is willing to identify the killer. Shaken by Patti’s death and desperate to do something to stop the escalating bloodshed, Lysistrata persuades Spartan and Trojan women to swear off sex with their men until the fighting stops. As the ultimate battle of the sexes rages on, the city’s fate hangs in the balance in this searing satire of gun violence in America.
Film CategoryMean Streets: Viewing the Divided City Through the Lens of Film and Television Race in America: The Black Experience
Mean Streets is a program of The Divided City: An Urban Humanities Initiative. With the support of the Mellon Foundation, Washington U.’s Center for the Humanities, in partnership with the College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design, is engaged in a four-year initiative called The Divided City, which addresses one of the most persistent and vexing issues in urban studies: segregation.