As a young film student at Howard University, I remember fondly going to a seminar that was part of HU's Communications Conference debating the validity of Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. Fast forward, just as much controversy followed John Singleton's first feature, Boyz In The Hood. Now, Justin Simien is picking up the torch from Lee and Singleton and bringing our issue into the 21st century.
Simien, deals with the age-old issues of the "tragic mulatto" who desperately wants to fit in with her "people" through hair, dress and attitude, the darker skinned sista' desperately trying to be "white", the white boys trying to prove how "down' they are by listening to rap music, talking and dressing like street thugs and the gay boys perpetrating to be straight all just to fit in and be accepted amongst their peers.
However, when a riot breaks out on campus after a white frat throws a "black party" all these issues and the characters experiencing them have a mirror held up to their face tighter than any of them are comfortable with.
Dear White People is comical, yet poignant and Simien pays homage to Lee with some similarities from Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and School Daze mixed with a little throwback to Singleton's Higher Learning. Recently, at the ida documentary screening series, Simien stated that while Lee and Singleton are definitely names he's proud to be associated with, his inspiration for scenes in DWP come from such iconic films A Clockwork Orange and Network. Pretty deep and introspective for such a young film talent and much appreciated from an audience perspective.
Having received rave reviews and ovations this year at Sundance, Dear White People was definitely one of the hot tickets of the Los Angeles Film Festival. It was well worth the hype. Special shout out to Producers Effie T. Brown, Stephanie Allain and Lena Waithe who made my experience at the 2014 LAFF screening a stellar one!
Dear White People opens in a theatre near you TODAY...October 17th and nationwide on October 24th.