Spike Lee Says Don’t Get It Twisted. “Chi-Raq” Is NOT A Comedy. (Video)

Earlier this week, film director Spike Lee released the trailer for Chi-Raq, a film that takes a look at Chicago’s seemingly incessant gun violence, which hasn’t gotten so bad, the city has earned itself a moniker that draws parallels to war-torn Iraq. The trailer, which included several comedic moments, earned a ton of attention, as did the announcement of the film’s cast. Starring Angela Bassett, Dave Chappelle, John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, and more, the film’s topic is certainly not a laughing matter, but many took issue with its trailer and what appeared to be a humorous, light-hearted preview for a film that purportedly aims to document the very real, and very pandemic, issue of countless deaths of Black and Brown men, women, and children in Chicago.

One vocal opponent of the trailer was the Windy City’s Rhymefest, who explained to the Chicago Sun Times that he and many other residents of the city were deeply offended by it. “I’d say [Spike Lee], you owe Chicago an apology. And you owe Chicago your presence to repair the damage,” ‘Fest told the newspaper. In response, Spike Lee has released a videotaped statement in which he explains to those he inadvertently offended that Chi-Raq is a satire and not a comedy, despite many outlets (including Ambrosia for Heads, though we did convey the film’s likely intent to convey a deeper message) describing it as such. “There are very humorous moments in the trailer,” Lee begins. “Now some people are getting it twisted and think that this is a comedy. Chi-Raq is not a comedy. Chi-Raq is a satire.” Like his 2000 film Bamboozled, Chi-Raq is adopting satirical humor to portray a serious, systemic problem, which was seemingly lost on many viewing the trailer. “In no way, shape, or form are we not respectful of the situation that is happening in Chi-Raq,” Lee continues. “I gotta laugh to keep from crying.”

Check out Lee’s full statement below, and watch for Chi-Raq in theaters beginning December 4.