DAVE CHAPPELLE'S BLOCK PARTY
Music Brings Us Together; Racial Jokes Tear Us Apart
Release Date: March 03, 2006
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Distributor: Focus Features/Universal
Director: Michel Gondry
Writer: Dave Chapelle
Address Comments To:David Linde and James Schamus
Focus Features/Rogue Pictures
A Division of Universal Pictures
65 Bleecker St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 539-4000
Fax: (212) 539-4099
In September of 2004, Dave Chappelle, a well-known black comedian who is most recently hailed for his wildly popular, self-titled sketch comedy television series, brought together a host of popular hip hop and rap music artists to give the people of Brooklyn a free concert right in their own neighborhood.
The documentary style film follows Dave as he hands out Willy-Wonka-style golden tickets to random people on the street inviting them to come and be a part of the fall-day festivities. Dave leaves no stone and no joke unturned as he interviews and invites everyone from young African American up-and-coming-hip-hop-wannabes, to unsuspecting Caucasian grandmothers who could not understand one rap lyric if they tried, and all the way to the Ohio State University marching band. Deftly weaving together interview moments and concert snippets, the movie offers some very enjoyable moments of music and laugh-out-loud comedy. With a host of special guest artists like Mos Def, Erykah Badu, The Fugees, The Roots, Kanye West, Dead Prez, John Legend and many others, Dave uses his star power to give the people of Brooklyn a concert they will never forget.
The turnout for the concert was amazing. It is a definite testimony to the fact that music brings all kinds of people together. The day was a celebration. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t stop at being just a celebration. By mixing in some political humor and by throwing around plenty of racial slurs, Dave manages to alienate entire demographic groups in a single sentence. Plus, there is the non-stop barrage of that infamous cultural taboo – the racially motivated N-word used to describe people of African American descent. Now, it is said that in the African American culture that calling each other that word is not as offensive, but isn’t it rooted in a historical offense? Doesn't it only seem to stoke the fires of racism when we keep referring back to a time of civil oppression? If music brings people together, then this kind of crude and racial humor tears people apart.
Plus, in the movie there is a dichotomy of theology. There are shots of these artists holding hands in a circle and praying things like, “God, we want to glorify you in all we do, in Jesus name,” and then they go out and talk about drugs, sex and “crackers who hold them back from being free.”
Maybe it’s just me, but these two worlds don’t seem to match up. One is aimed at giving glory to the eternal King of creation by living our lives as a self-sacrificing testimony of holiness that is not bound to the temporary satisfactions of this world. The other is aimed at lascivious living that is focused on nothing more than the temporary satisfactions of this world. Drugs, sex and rock-n-roll: is any of that a new argument?
Discerning, media wise people should be aware that the messages of these artists don’t line up. Actions are louder than words, pictures are worth a thousand words, and a person’s lifestyle is a definite indication of the fruit of that person’s soul.
Dave Chappelle is genuinely funny and quick-witted. However, with the incessant foul language, the racial slurs and barrage of N-words, this movie is excessive and should be avoided by people of faith; no matter what the color of their skin.
By the way, not to get on a soap-box, but the Bible talks about Jesus dying for everyone's sins. To borrow a little wisdom from a classic children’s song and say that “Red, yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.” The Bible also says that people of “every nation, tribe and language which no man could number” will stand before the Lord and worship TOGETHER before the throne of the King. And you’ll have to excuse me for this overly used statement – but if Jesus forgave us our trespasses and forgets our past – shouldn’t we be able to forgive each other of the sins of our past and say to one another, “Can’t we all just get along?”
Often quick-witted, Dave Chappelle can be genuinely funny. However, the movie also contains incessant foul language, racial slurs and a barrage of "N" words. This profane content is excessive and should be avoided by people of faith, no matter what the color of their skin. Although there are shots of Christian artists holding hands in a circle and praying in Christ's name, the same people talk about drugs, sex and quote “crackers who hold them back from being free” unquote. Of course, Jesus died for everyone's sins. The Bible also says that people of “every nation, tribe and language which no man could number” will stand before the Lord and worship TOGETHER before His throne.