In Spike Lee’s new movie Chi-Raq, women in Chicago force a ceasefire among gang members by going on a sex strike until their men stop shooting each other. It’s a plot borrowed directly from Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata,” and during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Tuesday night, the director said he believes it could happen in real life.
“Do you think it will work in Chicago?” Colbert asked Lee, noting that one woman has already decided to initiate a sex strike after just seeing the film’s trailer.
“I'd like to say this: What's happening on college campuses today, you know, with what happened at the University of Missouri, where the football players got together and said unless the president resigns, they weren't going to play,” Lee said, referring to the protests that led to the resignation of Mizzou president Timothy Wolfe. “I think a sex strike could really work on college campuses where there’s an abundance of sexual harassment and date rapes.”
“Second semester it’s going to happen,” he predicted. “Once people come back from Christmas, there are going to be sex strikes at universities and colleges across this country, I believe it.”
When Colbert asked about how he thinks gun violence in Chicago can be curbed, Lee was hesitant to come down too strongly against the right to bear arms. “It’s many different things, but I think that one thing I really hope people come out of the film when they see it is that we have to have a real discussion about guns in this country,” he explained. “I’m not talking about taking away anybody’s Second Amendment rights, but there are certain things we can do: Tougher background checks, we can title guns like cars.” Despite Chicago’s “very, very tight gun control laws,” Lee noted that people need only to cross the border into Indiana to access firearms with few restrictions.
Finally, Colbert asked Lee to weigh in on the graphic video this week that shows a Chicago police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. Protests erupted in that city Tuesday night after authorities finally released the footage more than a year after the fatal shooting occurred.
“They’re worried because they think black folks in Chicago are going to run amok, and I don’t know that that’s necessarily so,” Lee said in the interview, which was taped earlier Tuesday afternoon. “I think there is a way to have peaceful demonstrations without tearing stuff up.”
The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
“I am hopeful that nothing crazy happens but I’m glad the tape is being released, because this is democracy, and I sometimes don’t think we can pick and choose what America should see,” Lee added.