How Barbershop 3 Was Everything Chiraq Wasn’t

How Barbershop 3 Was Everything Chiraq Wasn’t

Last December, Spike Lee debuted the film Chiraq that he directed and produced described as an “American satirical musical drama film.”

The film was set in Chicago and was supposed to focus on the heavy gang violence in the city by using the old Greek play Lysistrata by Aristophanes’ which is a “comedy play in which women withhold sex from their husbands as punishment for fighting in the Peloponnesian War.”

You would think that the big name director who usually leaves us with a message and the familiar faces in the film like Jennifer Hudson, who has been directly affected by Chicago’s gang violence, the movie would spark a change or at least tell Chicago’s story well. Wrong.

Chiraq had the opposite affected on it’s audience and especially those from The Windy City. In interviews or social media, Chicagoans used all the chance they could to let people know that the movie was not the real perspective of the city.



Well-known Chicago rapper King Louie even made a song along with a video titled “Fuck Spike Lee” once the movie didn’t represent the city so well. Overall the movie did not sit well with the public and was a disappoint on Spike Lee’s part.

In April, the third sequel to Barbershop with Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Nicki Minaj, Regina Hall, and Chicago’s own Common released and seemed as though it was everything Chiraq was supposed to be. The movie is set in Chicago’s Southside where gang violence is very heavy and the movie genuinely focuses on the gang violence realistically unlike Chiraq.

Without telling the story basically it talks about the actual gangs in the city, and how younger children get involved at a young age. There are also realistic incidents where two gang leaders have an altercation for being in the same location, an innocent child gets killed in crossfire, and kids hanging out with gang members (though the gang members looked super corny especially Tyga with his man bun) to become “down”.

Of course the whole story’s inciting incident is when Calvin’s son gets in trouble in school with a gang related situation and he wants to move the shop to the North side of the city. The shop collaborates with the city and come up with a solution to keep down the shooting for a weekend, and I won’t tell the story but I feel like it was a more realistic solution that the Chiraq story line.

Ultimately I feel like Spike Lee was very insensitive to the situation in the city by relating the gang issue to sex and using this musical play to make light of the problem at hand. Chicago has a serious problem and I feel like he just didn’t go about it the right way and we had so much hope for the movie. Barbershop 3 used real names of the gangs, had realistic situations, and tried to come up with a reasonable solution.

To top it off, the city approved of it. It overall did a better job of depicting the city and showing the influence on how it could be changed.

If you’ve seen both movies let me know what you think!


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1 Comment

  1. Damage
    May 7, 2016 / 9:15 pm

    Great article. That’s what we need, a true depiction of what Chicago really is about. Not a satire.