Spike Lee's School Daze (1988) is a genre-hopping musical about some of the divisions within the student body at a historically black college, and was inspired by Lee's time at such institutions. These conflicts are embodied by the film's two main characters who happen to be cousins: Laurence Fishburne's Dap Dunlap, a political activist and intellectual; and Lee's Half-Pint, a social outcast determined to join the school’s most popular fraternity.
Unlike most films that deal with race, School Daze focuses on intra-racial dynamics within the black community, which means it has a particular authenticity in tone while lacking the self-consciousness in style found in many films aimed, at least in part, at white audiences, such as Lee's own Do the Right Thing. This approach is especially bold in light of the film's representation of two sensitive subjects within the African-American community: complexion and hair. Lee's keen knowledge of film genres is evident in his decision to have the "debate" over these topics occur in a dynamic song-and-dance sequence, because he knows that musical numbers have traditionally been used to express the thoughts and sentiments that characters could not—or dare not—convey through conversation. School Daze has a number of such uncompromising scenes, which is why Roger Ebert described it as "one of the most honest and revealing movies I've ever seen about modern middle-class black life in America."