Critical Daze | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Critical Daze



To the editors:

School Daze is a "masterpiece," huh? Reviewer David Ehrenstein has got to be kidding in giving it four stars (March 18). Just because, as he says, blacks are oppressed and white people aren't interested in black people at all doesn't mean that a film about black people from a black perspective ought to be called a masterpiece (in the spirit of charity?). If School Daze is a masterpiece, then your average TV sitcom is at least fine art.

I admit that some of the negative reviews to the film might be because of unconscious racism and lack of interest in black culture, but the film is didactic to a fault. Its ending is heavyhanded: the main character turns and addresses the audience--and it's made clear he's talking specifically to the black audience only--and tells them to "wake up." Come on, Mr. Ehrenstein, how can you compare that to Woody Allen's Radio Days? I'm interested in the "Jewishness" in the latter film because it's an integral part of the narrative. I'm not interested in the "blackness" in the final scene of School Daze because it's blatantly preachy, steps out of the narrative in a clumsy way, and is fairly obviously directed to blacks only.

Besides that, if you delete the sex scenes and the MTV-type song and dance numbers (i.e., those songs that don't move the plot forward) from School Daze you cut out half or more of the movie and you realize it's a pretty thin plot you've got on your hands. I give it one star; it has some redeeming facets. The review of the film was fine analysis of racial problems, but I think the writer's social and moral agendas clouded his appraisal of the film itself.

Richard Wilkinson


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