Monthly Archives: August 2010


Spike Lee’s Summer of Sam (1999) uses the .44 caliber killings by the infamous David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz (Michael Badalucco) as the jumping-off point for an examination of the ways in which the search for a scapegoat can occur in the wake of a crisis, and how such a witch hunt can tear a community apart. Not unlike Do the Right Thing (1989), it takes a microcosmic look at how hate and intolerance need only a specific flashpoint to occur in order for such a powder keg to explode. Like that film’s Brooklyn neighborhood, Summer of Sam’s Italian-American Bronx neighborhood is rooted in prejudices inspired by the notion of the “other” — someone “different” who doesn’t belong. Perhaps the only reason that “Bobby the Fairy” Del Fiore is “accepted,” if you can call it that, is that he is, as local drug dealer Joey T. (Michael Rispoli) suggests, “a paying customer.” Indeed, a fabric of intolerance is woven early on with Vinnie (John Leguizamo) and Dionna’s (Mira Sorvino) entrance to the nightclub, Virgo, during which we hear a bouncy disco tune (“There But for the Grace of God Go I” by Machine) with the lyrics: “…to grow up in, let’s find a place that’s safe; Somewhere far awaay; with no blacks, no Jews and no gays…” (3:09) Continue reading

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