not in a fraternity and never have been, so I haven't seen <>I>Chapelle's
Show on Comedy Central. I've heard it's funny, but only from
people who are either incredibly unfunny or incredibly bad at
describing what's so damn amusing about it. In fact, if you're
thinking right now about e-mailing me to tell me I have to see
it because it's an awesome show you might very well be a boring
asshole without even knowing it. Maybe the shit is funny, I don't
know. Now, I don't care because the fans are so fucking annoying
with their repetition of punchlines that may have been funny out
of context the first time, but sure as hell aren't the thousandth.
Besides, I get the weird feeling that a hell of a lot of white
kids like his show only because they think it makes them cool,
and not because they actually get it.
I do know is that Dave Chapelle as a comic has been both funny
and shitty in the past. His jokes aren't that great, but what
I like is his glee and the mischievous glint he gets in his eye
when he's cooking up some new way to subvert a situation.
Chapelle's Block Party is what the name says: a big-ass block
party, for real, and filmed as a documentary. It took place some
time in 2004 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn,
which is a pretty ragged area. I've been to a lot of block parties
around here, and this one's nothing like them. In Arvada they
usually end when a drunken dipshit tries reading the instructions
on a bottle rocket by the light of his acetylene torch and fires
the thing right into his eyeball. Who the fuck needs to read the
directions? Also, our block parties have a patriotic purpose:
to celebrate our freedom to get shitfaced, start a fight, cry
in public, fall into a kiddie pool and vomit on a neighbors' lawn
block party doesn't celebrate a national holiday. It's just a
general good time sort of party meant to boost the self-esteem
in Bed-Stuy, and do a little politicizing about black issues and
black responsibility. The movie, directed by Michael Gondry, follows
Chapelle as he plays ringmaster, organizing a roster of rappers
like the Fugees, Kanye West and Mos Def, Erykah Badu and Jill
Scott, smoothing things over with the locals and rounding up an
audience. He goes to his own rural Ohio neighborhood and invites
the cashier at the mini-mart and a local college drumline to come
to the event. He even pays their way, though it's on cheapass
charter buses. The movie alternates behind that sort of behind-the-scenes
shit and the concert that, as far as I can tell, makes up the
entire block party. Nobody throws up, gets drunk, fights or gets
caught getting a blowjob from the toothless widow down the street.
part of the point. What Block Party does best is keep the
proceedings upbeat, like a really great party. There's no badmouthing
and no quarreling, just a neighborhood having a damn good time.
Of course, that can be annoying, like when all the rappers can't
stop gushing about how great each other are. We hardly get to
see what they're talking about because the concert footage is
so chopped up that hardly a full song gets shown in its entirety.
sort of okay because I didn't get as batshit excited as the crowd
does. Some of the music included in the movie is all right. In
fact, a piece where the drumline plays the melody for Kanye West
is pretty damn good. Holy shit, though, the bulk must have been
specifically chosen for its sameness, right down to the unclever
use of fuck and shit. Hoq the fuck did they get some of the most
creative and original rap artists to all do the same things on
stage? Worse is that the political and uplifting messages made
by Dead Prez and others are treated like some real deep shit when
it's nothing more than freshman-year high school posturing to
a beat. Most of it can be found with less dirty words in books
by Steven Covey.
best scenes, and the reason to see the movie, is Chapelle interacting
with strangers. That's when he's the funniest and the movie is
most fun. He's quick and has a genuine interest in making others
happy. Maybe the coolest moment is when the Central State University
drumline members find out they get to go to new York and perform
in front of their rap idols. These are mostly poor black kids,
and free trip to New York, to a legendary neighborhood for something
this damn cool is pretty fucking spectacular and the kids are
so damn excited it's contagious. The weirdest is a 60s burnout
white couple living in a dilapidated husk of a church in Bed-Stuy
who tell Chapelle he's welcome to rest his loins in their place.
Chapellle challenges a Bed-Stuy kid to a footrace and yanks his
chain like he was eight years old himself. And he thrills some
daycare kids who have no idea how famous he is when he whips out
a twenty dollar bill.
Fingers for Block Party. Though, by the end I was pretty
worn down. What does it is the sameness of the music, the sameness
of the crotch-grabbing and gesturing, the puffed up soliloquies
by the artists about each other, and the uninteresting way the
whole thing is shot by Gondry. At least nobody loses an eye.
Want to tell Filthy Something?