Reflecting on Spike Lee’s visit for S.H.O.U.T. week
Last Friday, hundreds of students, faculty and other members of the Colby community packed into Lorimer Chapel to listen to notable filmmaker Spike Lee. There was a great deal of anticipation on campus for the event. Free tickets were snatched up quickly, there were simulcasts throughout campus for those who did not have tickets and the line to enter the Chapel stretched from the Chapel doors all the way down to Pulver.
After a disorganized, meandering “speech,” which was then followed by a shambolic question-asking performance on the part of our student body, many stepped out into the bitter cold, feeling an equally bitter sense of disappointment. Although Lee was indeed charming, and funny at times, it seemed as though he had no prepared remarks. Given the amount of effort and resources that were put into organizing the event, Lee could have solidly enhanced the atmosphere by incorporating some structure into his talk. The Pugh Community Board (PCB) put a great deal of effort into producing an outstanding S.H.O.U.T. (Speaking, Hearing, Opening Up Together) week that was full of diverse and interesting programming.
Lee’s talk was supposed to be the climactic conclusion to a week that focused on spreading awareness of multiculturalism. As a director who focuses frequently on issues of race and other sociopolitical issues, Colby community members expected Spike Lee to illuminate those issues in a thought-provoking manner, especially on a campus such as ours, which is often criticized for a lack of diversity. Past S.H.O.U.T speakers have been acclaimed literary artists such as Maya Angelou, Eve Ensler and Junot Diaz. Lee could have brought a fresh, filmmaker’s perspective to the ongoing general conversation regarding cultural issues.
Perhaps the most disappointing portion of the talk was the student question-and-answer session. For all of Lee’s shortcomings, students nonetheless had the opportunity to directly ask him all of the big societal questions that we ponder in an intellectual environment such as college. Instead, the questions mostly consisted of requests for personal career advice, prostrate entreaties for life guidance and local neighborhood shout-outs. It takes an admirable amount of honesty and courage to raise your voice and ask a question in a chapel full of people. In the spirit of S.H.O.U.T. week, we as a student body should have cast aside our narcissism and asked questions that sought more deeply to confront the issues of multiculturalism and diversity that resonate throughout the world that we are all preparing to enter.
-The Staff of The Colby Echo