Tuesday, May 04, 2010

School Daze (1988)

Inspired by our viewing of Do the Right Thing, I decided to watch another, earlier Spike Lee film, School Daze. The film follows politically conscious Dap (played by Laurence Fishbourne when he was still called "Larry") at the historically black Mission College as he feuds with Dean Big Brother Almighty, member of the Greek system (Gamma). Lee plays Half-Pint, who, to the chagrin of Dap, wants to pledge Gamma.

Although it is its own film, there are a lot of similarities between School Daze and Do the Right Thing, most noticeably the theme of "waking up." In School Daze, though, the fight is not black against white, but darker-skinned blacks against lighter-skinned blacks. The film also touches on other issues including college-educated students and their relationships with the economically disadvantaged people in the communities surrounding and perhaps more superficially, the menace of Greek hazing on the college campus.

If I were to base my thoughts on Spike Lee solely on this film and Do the Right Thing, I would say there is definitely a formula. Lee uses the same actors, themes and similar music in both films. Both also feature sequences where the fourth wall is broken and the messages seem to be aimed at the audience and the characters alike.

This film can stand the test of time just because these types of issues are still relevant. Lee uses his films as a call to America and specifically the black community to take action, which is why people will continue to watch even if it is a very distinctly 80s film.

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