Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Spike Lee's Requiem

We watched the first two parts of Spike Lee’s Requiem last night. It was an amazing piece. I generally enjoy Spike Lee’s films, but do not always agree with his political agenda. There were parts where Lee was obviously pandering to a segment of his audience. He aired a segment that compared the evacuation procedures to what it must have been like to be on the auction block as a slave in the antebellum era. The tragedy of Katrina is amazing and overwhelming. It overwhelms racial and social boundaries. Whether you are from the Lower ninth or Lakeview the devastation was all encompassing. To focus so significantly on the effect it had on the African American experience almost limits the true impact of this tragedy.

I’ve previously gone on and on about the need to help New Orleans rebound from the devastation. I’ve blogged about the Conversation. I’ve mentioned the recovery. How much of the New Orleans that my wife and I know, will still be there for our daughter? All of these topics are still important today. I wonder if this piece is going to encourage the national public to support the rebuilding. Will the movie be dismissed as another self-serving Hollywood piece? Does anyone outside of the effected area truly still care?

Today, President Bush has pledged that the federal government is still behind the rebuilding effort. Just ask the residents still waiting on the trailers from FEMA how supported they feel.

Spike Lee makes this event look almost like a Black/White issue. That is akin to saying that AIDS is a gay disease. The water that destroyed the city did not go down streets and say, “Oh this is a black area, I will decimate this area”, or “By golly, this is a White area I should leave this section dry.” I do not believe that any levees were dynamited this time. No poor areas were sacrificed to save rich areas. One of the most amazing parts of New Orleans urban geography is how mixed it was. Eighty percent of the city was flooded. That is not eighty percent of the black section, nor eighty percent of the white section. Eighty percent of the city means just that. Natural disasters are colorblind.

The 1st half of the film keeps some attention on the rebuilding effort, and for that I am appreciative. It was well done, in that it put a human face on a horrendous event. By the way, Max Mayfield, the director of the U.S. National Hurricane center is now saying that we need to stop building on coastlines. He is speculating that in the future there will be a hurricane disaster dwarfing Katrina.


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