Spike Lee and the Commerce of Culture: Houston A. Baker, Jr.
In Spike Lee's award-winning student film Joe's Bed-Stuy Barber Shop: We Cut Heads, numbers have, indeed, financed the social work degree of Homer's wife Ruth and purchased a new organ for Bethel Church. The downside of the game, however, is that numbers have produced dreams and greed that bring about the execution of Homer's partner Joe. Even as we read the blue and red neon sign that opens Joe's Bed-Stuy Barber Shop on a rainy night in Brooklyn, Joe is about to disappear into the Hudson, dressed in the concrete mantle of a mob killing. This is film noir, as my colleague Manthia Diawara points out,' with a vengeance, setting up anxieties and expectations that betoken a Chester Himesian moralism.'