Author Topic: Spike Lee and His Hatership  (Read 14788 times)

Offline jefferson L.O.B. sergeant

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 3067
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2012, 08:46:13 pm »
Sherelle's friend, Quentin Tarantino, has responded to Lee's criticisms by calling ROOTS "Inauthentic" among other statements. Here is a brief portion.

When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” said Tarantino. “I didn’t see it when it first came on, but when I did I couldn’t get over how oversimplified they made everything about that time. It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”

Offline Catch22

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 3112
  • You gots to have vision, Willie!
    • View Profile
    • PapiCatch22's Urban Suite
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #31 on: December 30, 2012, 09:03:19 pm »
I guess he totally forgot about....

The time in which Roots was produced...

The fact that it was made for broadcast TV...

The fact that the mini was critically and commercially successful...

Other than that...his comments come off as more ill-informed than ignorant.

Offline Kristopher

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1229
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #32 on: December 30, 2012, 09:21:45 pm »
Tarantino's Candy (Slavery In The White Male Imagination)
BY TANYA STEELE

(NO SPOILERS)

Yesterday, I took time out to see 'Lincoln' and 'Django Unchained', back to back. Yes, in that order. I needed to get a glimpse of what slavery was like in the imagination of white men.

As a black filmmaker, I find that I wrestle with thoughts of 'responsibility'; 'who will see it', 'what impact will it have on the discourse in America', 'what images will I be projecting to our youth/to the world'. I've often noted, even in film school, white filmmakers don't have that burden. They were free to write, to be, to create without thinking about this stuff. I'm certain they thought about other things but, the burden of race was not in their baggage. There is such a thing as privileged Art, privileged filmmaking. We see it in the current slate of insipid films coming out of Hollywood. Films that are not responsible or accountable to anyone or anything.

There is so much response to 'Django' that I needed to see it. Spike Lee's words were instructive. I respect Spike. He paid his dues. He is someone who pays attention to representation. Having had him as a Professor, I know that he is someone who gives an ear and a hand to black filmmakers, actors, even people behind the camera. Spike does not need to justify his commitment to black america AT ALL. So, I was disturbed by the awful things said about Spike. For many blacks in and out of the business, Spike Lee champions us, he is a hero. But, hey, we don't really worship our heroes while they are alive. I saw this quote on Facebook, it was posted by someone that I, usually, find interesting. After he saw 'Django', he wrote, "Spike lost." I will return to this later.

I experienced mixed emotions while watching 'Lincoln'. Why is he focusing on this part of slavery? (Understanding, he did make 'Amistad'.) Why does he feel the need to focus on 'Lincoln' or that moment in history? Why isn't he showing what these white men were fighting over - the experience of the slave? But, I went with it, struggling every step of the way. Ultimately, I relaxed and trusted the storyteller. Yes, people are upset that there was no Frederick Douglass. The slaves appeared well dressed and weren't showing the scars of slavery. I did find that problematic. He chose to focus on the passage of the Amendment and the end of the Civil War.

As an aside, Colman Domingo and Gloria Reuben were refreshing. They were layered, not one dimensional, not noble. I was excited by this as I do believe that black actors are bringing choices, a complexity when portraying historical figures, a fierceness that can't be directed out of them. I'd like to think that Denzel's performance in 'Glory' has a lot to do with this.

I appreciated the fact that I had to listen during 'Lincoln'. Something we are short of in these times. I had to listen, follow, patiently, allow the story to breathe. And, it did. James Spader was a hoot. What a great character. He was akin to Falstaff. And, Tommy Lee Jones brought it. Casting that film must have been a dream. That moment in history was flawed, not noble, complicated, ugly, not how we view history. All of the characters were not one thing, did not think one way. There was back dealing, self-importance and arrogance. Lincoln, who seemed to only utter words that were dripping with poetic brilliance (he must have been annoying), was even flawed. This film was not about the noble white man. It is about white men who were dragged, kicking and screaming, into the future.

So, ultimately, I dug it. There was something earnest about the frailty of humanity. How people become impotent, intellectually and emotionally crippled in the face of a pure evil like slavery. Similar to the gun debate after the Newtown shootings. We create evil, we don't want it, yet, we are wed to it- rendered powerless by it.

So, what is slavery in the white male imagination? If you were born and raised in America, slavery will have crossed your path. I imagine, if I were white, had black friends and was an Artist, I would have to ponder slavery. And, I believe that Spielberg and Tarantino did or do. Spielberg tried to create an earnest rendering of slavery with 'Amistad'. However, like Tarantino, his imagination stops at a certain point. I would imagine that the horrors of slavery become too complicated after a certain point. One can't go around feeling guilty and apologizing all of the time. So, what happens? What do white people do with slavery?

Quentin Tarantino… I am not one to run to a Tarantino film. Violence in film can be too much for me. After 'Pulp Fiction', where audience members were laughing at gratuitous violence, I couldn't deal. So, I avoid Tarantino films if I think violence is the main staple. I did see 'Inglorious Bastards' and I liked that. I felt he gave respect to the survivors of the Holocaust. Yes, there was humor and it was playful, but, he respected the pain of the experience.

The black experience does not belong to black people. We wish it did but it doesn't. And, the highest bidder gets to do with it as they see fit. Our stars are available to the highest bidder. The one who will deliver the audience, who will maximize their cred, who has a proven track record of getting people in seats. Tarantino is a high bidder. He gets butts in seats. He is the filmmaker for our time. He gives us that sweet, sugar, violent laced fantasy that masculinity seems to crave. And, we women get the drippings, a taste, we go along for the ride because the candy looks and sounds so sweet.

Samuel Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio were stunning. Their performances were phenomenal. And, there were moments in the film that may have felt 'new' to those who haven't studied slavery. Things that we have not seen before on the big screen. There were moments, in the film, that were captivating. And, they were presented in interesting and playful packaging. Situating in the brutality of slavery would not make for a good film. I understand the need to divert, to fantasize, to create a new mythology around it, to distract us from the insanity that resides in this nation's past.

But, if it was as easy to escape slavery, as Django did, we would be somewhere else at this point in history. We would not have the extreme black on black violence in Chicago. We would not have extreme unemployment amongst black men. We would not have the extreme school drop-out rates, high illiteracy rates, high domestic violence numbers, etc. You get it. If it was easy to get out of it, we would have. We are a creative people. We used our imaginations to escape the physical horror that was slavery. That's why we could create something as complex and deep as Jazz, the blues, Jimi Hendrix. How advanced we were with music gives us some insight into how we disappeared into the imagination because we couldn't escape the physical.

At some point in a film, especially films that are socially relevant, you get a strong sense of the filmmaker's voice. There was a moment in 'Django' (that I will not reveal), where I got the sense that Tarantino believed if we weren't so submissive that we wouldn't be here. Django and his woman were the exception. The rest of the slaves accepted their lot, some happily. The slaves, other than Foxx, Jackson and Washington, were not believable. Tarantino's slaves were the exact opposite of Spielberg's slaves. They were not noble, they were caricatures/cartoonish.

The first female slave that Django encounters was so laughable, I wasn't sure if Tarantino was joking or trying to sincerely portray a slave. Even Jamie Foxx phoned it in, at points. Django was the 'super Nigger', the one who was unique, smart, rebellious, different from the rest. None of the slaves conspired to help Django. He was a man on an island. He was the unique Negro.

The other slaves were in step with their master. Django was on the opposite side of that. Although, he was sidekick to a white man throughout the majority of the film. In Tarantino's imagination, he could accept slavery if he thought of it as black people fighting back under the gaze of a white male. This works for a culture that does not want to confront the evils and system of slavery. We want to believe that it wasn't all that bad. That it was endurable, escapable, provided opportunities for heroics. Black people were slaves because we didn't fight back. Django was a character created by a privileged white male.

Perhaps Tarantino did consider our history. I'm certain that he is aware that President Barack Obama is a modern day hero to many of us. Perhaps he did see that our heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, jr., who preached non-violence, was murdered. Perhaps he is aware that Malcolm X, who loved us with all of his might, was murdered. Perhaps he did see that Medgar Evars was murdered. And, Fannie Lou Hamer suffered beyond comprehension. That Harriet Tubman survived and liberated others while carrying a weapon. And, that Nat Turner fought and died as our hero.

Perhaps he has born witness to our carnage, our suffering and determined that black people need a hero in a black man. That we, black women, need a hero black man who would risk everything and kill everything in his path in order to be with us. Maybe Tarantino speaks in the language of hyper masculinity, where the body count determines who wins because he feels that it will embolden black males beyond self-hatred to a self love and strength that reshapes their internal dialogue. Understanding that we do have black men, in our history, who stood up with guns and fought back but their story isn't told. Perhaps Django represents them.

Tarantino is the perfect filmmaker for these times. We want our information fast, fun, presented in an interesting way and not too complicated. We want an 'idea' of something and not the whole truth. We want to know that there are soldiers fighting overseas but we don't want to see the coffins. Nor do we want to see what's in them. We want the 'idea' of the thing, not the thing. We want slavery but we want to escape from it. And, no, I don't want to see two hours of humorless, long suffering, brutal slavery, either. It's a difficult balancing act. There is a deeper, more interesting slave narrative to be told. One from the perspective of a talented Black filmmaker. Stories of slavery rival Shakespeare, they are worthy of a thoughtful approach. Stories that can teach us a lot about what it means to be a human being. I am anxiously awaiting Steve McQueen's '12 Years a Slave'.

People will give the argument, "it's the best that could be done with the subject matter". That argument doesn't hold. Think of 'Schindler's List'. Have you seen 'A Soldier's Story'? That wasn't slavery but it was about the repercussions of slavery. It was written by a black man and directed by a white male. Something about these films deliver the experience, ground you in the truth of it but don't leave you feeling defeated. And, yes, Reginald Hudlin and others were a part of the landscape but it was a Tarantino film. Tarantino's voice spoke the loudest in 'Django'.

Is the culture any worse because of 'Django Unchained'? I don't think we are better because of it. Will it deepen discussions around slavery? Probably not. Will it decrease violence in the 'hood? Probably not, if anything, the gun received more glorification and worship. Not sure black males or anyone else needs that. But, he had a right to make it. It's entertaining. It's has a funky and thoughtless soundtrack. It has beautiful people in it. It is escapism. It is a work of Art. We have spent eons escaping into the white male hero, why not a black one? 'Lincoln' is pensive. 'Django Unchained' is active. And, we are still on the outside, looking in, as others write our history.

Spike Lee did not lose. There was nothing to win. He was sounding the alarm. That's all. Keeping the flow of the river. Our heroes, while alive, hold up the flame as others bash them. They pass it on to the next generation, in spite of itself. Was this disrespectful to Spike's (our) ancestors? He believed so. May we all be thoughtful and caring enough to ask ourselves this very question, of one another, more often.

**And, before people jump on the 'how can Spike talk about the film if he hasn't seen it' bandwagon. There are several who read the screenplay and were offended by it. For some, that was enough**

Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 9972
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2012, 04:32:26 am »
HOLLYWOOD REPORTER:

Antoine Fuqua Defends Quentin Tarantino Against Spike Lee's 'Django' Criticisms
8:48 AM PST 12/30/2012 by Eric J. Lyman

The "Training Day" director, speaking at Capri's Hollywood film fest, said that if Lee disagreed with Tarantino's work he should have discussed it with him personally, not publicly.
CAPRI, Italy – Spike Lee should have called Quentin Tarantino personally rather than criticize him in public with charges of racism, the director of 2001 Oscar winner Training Day said Sunday.

our editor recommends
Spike Lee: 'Django Unchained' is 'Disrespectful,' I Will Not See ItRome Festival to Honor Quentin Tarantino in Special CeremonyCapri-Hollywood to Pay Homage to 'Django' Star Franco NeroQuentin Tarantino Says Drug War, Justice System Are Modern-Day SlaveryTarantino's 'Django Unchained' Reignites Debate Over N-Word in MoviesLee, the director behind Do the Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992) and the thriller Inside Man (2006), made headlines before Christmas when he said he would boycott Tarantino’s Django Unchained because it was "disrespectful" to black people.

"American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western," Lee wrote on Twitter. "It was a holocaust."

Later, in an interview, Lee declined to elaborate, except to say he had no intention of seeing the film: "I can’t speak on it ‘cause I’m not going to see it," he said.

STORY: Spike Lee: 'Django Unchained' Is Disrespectful

It is not the first time Lee criticized Tarantino for racial insensitivity: after the release of Tarantino’s 1997 blacksploitation tribute Jackie Brown, Lee blasted Tarantino for what he said was an overuse of "the n-word," saying, "I think there is something wrong with him."

But Antoine Fuqua, the director behind Training Day who says he knows both Tarantino and Lee but is not close friends with either one, said Lee aired his concerns in wrong way.

"That’s just not the way you do things," said Fuqua, speaking on the sidelines of the 17th Capri, Hollywood Film Festival. "If you disagree with the way a colleague did something, call him up, invite him out for a coffee, talk about it. But don’t do it publicly."

Fuqua -- at the Capri festival as part of a big Hollywood contingent that also includes Leaving Las Vegas director Mike Figgis, 300 star Gerard Butler, Iceman director Ariel Vromen and Franco Nero, the star of the original Django film that inspired Tarantino's latest -- also defended Tarantino.

"I don’t think Quentin Tarantino has a racist bone in his body," he said. "Besides, I’m good friends with [Django Unchained star] Jamie Foxx and he wouldn’t have anything to do with a film that had anything racist to it."

Fuqua continued: "I haven’t seen the film, so I can’t speak about it specifically, but we’re supposed to find some truth in films and if you set a film in the 1850s, you’re going to hear the word 'nigger,' because that’s the way they spoke then, and you’re going to discuss slavery because that was part of the reality," he said.

"I want my kids to hear those kinds of words in the right context, so that they’ll know that language is not OK," Fuqua said.

The Capri, Hollywood fest, which takes place on the picturesque island off the coast of Naples, got under way Dec. 26 and will conclude Wednesday.

Sunday's program at the festival included a screening of Fuqua's Training Day -- which earned Denzel Washington an Oscar for best actor -- as well as the first glimpse, the trailer, for Fuqua's soon-to-be-released thriller Olympus Has Fallen. The day's centerpiece screening was the Italian premiere of David O. Russell's dramedy Silver Linings Playbook.


Offline sherelled

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 250
    • View Profile
    • https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4555092605573&set=a.1551655401520.77168.1539197080&type=1&theater
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #34 on: December 31, 2012, 07:13:28 am »
Both replies here are excellent. I think in fairness as I have said, everyone is entitled to an opinion, it is not what you say it is how you say it. Spike lee could have voiced his opinion in private yes, but this is a public world and he chose to do what he did. He has his respect from his audience. I am not one who does. And there are more reasons then this movie. But that is my opinion.  I do not agree with his criticism on this movie. This movie raised questions and answers as to why Black folks act like they do. I found it profound.  Movies are either entertaining and talked about or boring and talked about. Django will be talked about for some time. And guess what? That is the point. Like or dislike. It made an impression. I like that.  :-*

APEXABYSS

  • Guest
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #35 on: December 31, 2012, 08:10:46 am »


"That’s just not the way you do things,"
said Fuqua, speaking on the sidelines of the 17th Capri, Hollywood Film Festival. "If you disagree with the way a colleague did something, call him up, invite him out for a coffee, talk about it. But don’t do it publicly."

Everybody has something (publicly) to say about this ‘slave-era’ film.  Slave era equals controversy!

The real issue is how to deal with the controversy. I think, Lee could’ve been way-more outspoken but didn’t want to redirect the focus on his comments... Oops, too late! Let’s talk about how much of a ’hater’ & inappropriate Lee is, instead of why he felt the need to speak-out. 

Fuqua may need to take his own advice! why didn’t Fuqua contact (his colleague) Lee & invite him out for coffee? Can you publicly disagree with a colleague about publicly disagreeing with colleagues? 

Does 'professional courtesy' mean political correctness...even when the subject matter isn’t politically correct?  Can the ‘gloves come off’ when addressing the issues of slavery? 




Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 9972
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #36 on: December 31, 2012, 03:18:24 pm »
HUFFINGTON POST:


Rodney Barnes.Award-winning writer and producer
Lincoln, Meet Django: Slavery's Latest Films Are Controversial, But Not Why You Think
Posted: 12/31/2012 1:05 pm
This December the Civil War Era got the Hollywood treatment as two tinseltown heavyweights (Stephen Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino) presented their drastically different takes on a period of American history very few like to visit.

Well, at least not in a critical way.

As U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2009, Americans are "cowards" when it comes to race. This includes in films about slavery and the Civil War it spawned.

From fantasies meant to justify fears and glorify terrorists like Birth of A Nation, to sob-inducing, torturous "We lost the battle, but won... in spirit or something... in the end" flicks like Glory and Amistad, Americans -- and by Americans, I mean a lot of white people -- tend to like their racial dramas in two ways. One is the classic mold of "White hero saves damned, downtrodden dark people from other white people who are racist jerks," a la Cry Freedom or Mississippi Burning. The other is the almost always Oscar-worthy "Black people turn other cheek while foot is placed in ass over and over, but never raise a fist in retaliation because they're good, magical Negroes meant to cure us of our erectile dysfunction and high golf handicap."

The latter is still incredibly popular.

Surprisingly though, and possibly a sign of progress, Spielberg's Lincoln and Tarantino's Django Unchained are neither of those things, while still being somewhat related to those types of films.

Although, not always in the way you'd expect.

Spielberg's work regarding one of our most mythologized and celebrated presidents is technically fantastic, passionately acted and executed. It's so perfect it is almost a parody of a Hollywood Oscar-bait -- the method-obsessed Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln, a screenplay by award-winning Angels in America scribe Tony Kushner, brought to you by the man who made both Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.

It's the definition of a prestige picture.

There's just one problem...

Due to a glaring oversight, at moments, it falls into the "white savior" category of films.

Not because it's inaccurate, to say. It's more of a sin of omission. Former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, debated, befriended and challenged Abraham Lincoln to make the choices he made. At times Lincoln was reticent to "free" the slaves, wasn't sure about "equality" in the traditional sense of the word and Douglass was there in varying capacities to and for Lincoln, as such to ignore his existence in my opinion is reprehensible.

But Douglass was a no-show in Lincoln, despite his looming importance in Lincoln's presidency. This leaves the impression to those less informed about the Civil War period that it was Lincoln and Lincoln alone who "freed the slaves." This ignores that blacks and whites worked together to right a wrong, an example to us all of what can be accomplished when two cultures work together.

And this wouldn't be a "big deal" if it weren't for that fact this is the reductionist vision most Americans have of Lincoln already thanks to the most basic of compulsory public school educations.

At least the film got the aspect of "white people dragged kicking and screaming to the right side of history" right.

Getting history "right" was less of a concern for the purposely cartoonish Django Unchained -- Quentin Tarantino's controversial, slavery-era Spaghetti Western.

In a recent interview with VIBE Magazine, director Spike Lee said he wouldn't watch Django because it "would be disrespectful to his (our) ancestors." And even I, before seeing the film, wanted to agree with Lee. As I prepared to cut through Django with all the militant muster I could generate, a strange thing happened in the theater...

I loved the movie...

I really, really loved the movie.

Django is a ripe display of the pulpiest of fictions and uses 1858's slavery-riddled American South as the backdrop for a violent and oft unsettlingly hilarious revenge flick.

There is no movie about slavery quite like it.

It's a film that perverts a perversion by turning it into a cruel farce of those who thought there was nobility in owning (and treating) a man as if he were a horse.

While it recalls 1970s exploitation flicks Mandingo and Addio Zio Tom, it only references their most comically absurd and unsettling parts. And rather than become slavery-based torture porn, in Django every white person who is a slaver gets their comeuppance -- "Antebellum Die Hard" style -- with Jamie Foxx as Slave John McClane.

For example, there's a scene in the miniseries Roots where Chicken George has a chance to whip a white man, but takes the high road.

In Django, Jamie Foxx -- former slave turned John Shaft -- beats his ass.

The cinematic equivalent of a Rick Ross album title -- God Forgives, "Django" doesn't.

The film is a well-acted, directed and a cinematic and aural feast, yet Tarantino's Django remains hotly debated among black intellectuals. And when it comes to why this is such a lightning rod, I have a theory.

Black people have a complicated and frustrating with popular cinema as stereotypes -- the hallmark of lazy storytelling -- are easy to market and produce. But we, as African Americans, are also guilty of drafting our own inflexible standards and mythology, choking out individualism and creative freedom in the name of "progress."

Film is an art form. It is a form of expression. And it is a business. And I want my films about my culture to be honest. Not positive or negative, just honest. There are those who feel all slavery-era films should be of the same tone where a gospel choir plays in the background as the noble slave is whipped and defiantly refuses to cry... a story where the prospect of revenge would never enter his mind because he is chiseled and formed from the spirit of Mother Africa.

Well, that's boring.

And doesn't really reflect the much more complicated story of black slaves -- from Harriet Tubman to Nat Turner to the anonymous slave just trying to make it another day in hell.

All these stories deserve telling. And they deserve to be told in many different ways. And there's nothing wrong with one of those stories being about the slave who got angry, as there were most assuredly slaves who got angry.

That's Django.

And in some ways it's more honest than the raft of African American films that shine a light so brightly on our heroes it canonizes them to the degree that they are no longer real.

If Lee has any real challenge with the film it should be about how, due to virtue of Tarantino's whiteness (plus his marquee reputation), it was easier for him to get the film he wanted made while Lee has had to fight for everything from Do the Right Thing to Red Hook Summer.

Prestige in the form of Malcolm X and the commercial success of Inside Man, hasn't made it any easier for the auteur and that's well worth getting upset over.

But Django is not

Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 9972
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #37 on: January 01, 2013, 08:14:31 pm »
SCOTTSCOPE:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Righteous Indignation: The Real Story behind Spike Lee’s Bogus Case against ‘Django Unchained’




On December 21st, 2012, Spike Lee threw down the proverbial gauntlet at Quentin Tarantino’s feet for the second time in 15 years.  He’s taken issue with Quentin’s Spaghetti western homage Django Unchained.  It follows the exploits of an ex-slave who becomes a bounty hunter in order to rescue his lady love from the bonds of captivity.  In order to do so, he must square off against an evil plantation owner. 





When asked about the film during a filmed interview with VibeTV, Spike said "I can’t speak on it 'cause I'm not gonna see it, all I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors. That's just me...I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else."  He elaborated further via his Twitter account: "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.It Was A Holocaust.My Ancestors Are Slaves.Stolen From Africa.I Will Honor Them." [sic]  When a Tarantino fan accused him of taking things too seriously, Spike fired back "Wrong.Birth Of A Nation Got Black Folks Lynched [sic]. Media Is Powerful. DON'T SLEEP. WAKE UP YO."








If there’s one thing that can be counted on in this world, it’s that any major release aimed at Black audiences will be met with some level of discord within the Black community.  It’s inevitable.  Spike’s criticisms of Django Unchained are an example of this ongoing phenomenon, even though the movie in question doesn’t technically qualify as a “Black film.” It was conceived, written, and directed by a white guy.  That particular issue is at the heart of Spike’s dilemma. 


This ongoing issue has plagued Black cinema for at least the last 40 or so years.  In 1972, Junius Griffen, then a film publicist and head of the Hollywood/Beverly Hills chapter of the NAACP, first coined the phrase “Blaxploitation.”  It was short hand for “Black exploitation.”  He did so in an August 10th, 1972 Hollywood Reporter article titled “NAACP Takes Militant Stand on Black Exploitation Films.” 


The term was used to describe a wave of very popular films often portrayed Black folks in a rather stereotypical light.  Many focused on the underworld, and contained ample doses of sex, violence, and profanity.  The genre was born in the early 1970’s and petered out later in the decade.  It included such Fred Williamson vehicles as The Legend of Nigger Charley, The Soul of Nigger Charley, and Boss Nigger, all of which were forerunners to Django Unchained. The NAACP, along with other groups such as The Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the National Urban League, ultimately banded together and formed the Coalition Against Blaxploitation.

 
Poster for The Legend of Nigger Charley.


The furor over Blaxploitation set a precedent.  Almost every decade since has had it’s very own Black film renaissance, each of which has been met with similar criticisms.  The hood films of the 1990’s were accused of promoting “Black on Black” violence, and were often blamed for outbreaks of violence at opening weekend screenings.  In the current era, Tyler Perry’s various forms of Chitlin’ entertainment have been branded as “Coonery and Buffoonery” by many, most famously by Spike himself.  It seems that no matter how the Black experience is portrayed, some segment of the audience gets ticked off.  Spike’s recent rant about Django, provides a rather handy (though admittedly limited) scope through which to view this phenomenon. 


Spike was perhaps the primary inspiration behind the Black film renaissance of the early 1990’s.  That movement peaked in 1991, when 16 movies made by Black filmmakers received a theatrical release.  This was largely due to Lee’s unique voice.  As Roger Ebert once said of his sophomore feature, “Spike Lee's "School Daze" is the first movie in a long time where the black characters seem to be relating to one another, instead of to a hypothetical white audience.”  This made Spike stand out in a market place where Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby represented the alpha and omega of the Black experience.


From day one, Spike’s penchant for blasting his peers in the media became evident.  In a New York Times article that was published in 1986, the same year that his feature film debut She’s Gotta Have It was released, Spike zeroed in on Whoopi Goldberg.  He criticized her for wearing blue contact lenses, and noted her “vicious crossover mentality.”  3 years later, as Do The Right Thing fast became a lightning rod of controversy, Lee accused Eddie Murphy of not using his considerable pull at Paramount studios to ensure that put Blacks in a position of power.  On The Arsenio Hall show, Murphy called Spike a cricket.  After Hall publically came to Murphy’s defense, Lee branded him an Uncle Tom.


In subsequent decades, Lee’s ire has known no bounds, and is regularly aimed at fellow Black artists.  His targets have included filmmaker Matty Rich, as well former collaborator Samuel L. Jackson.  He even turned on Will Smith, who opted for director Michael Mann when agreeing to star in the biopic Ali.  His recent war of words with Tyler Perry quickly devolved into yet another example of “House negro vs. Field Negro.”  His disdain for modern rap music is also well known, as he has traded words with both 50 Cent The 2 Live Crew.  Also of note are his clashes with white filmmakers and icons such as George Lucas, Clint Eastwood, and Charlton Heston.


Spike’s rants have often either coincided with, or preceded, the release of one of his films.  That underlines his penchant for self-promotion.  It reveals his rather narcissistic view of himself as being the sole standard bearer, and perhaps sole standard setter, of Black film.  During the late 80’s and even into the 90’s, Spike had the playing field all to himself.  Now he has to share it, and he doesn’t like it.  The idea of sharing it with the likes of a nerdy white guy brings us to Spike’s ongoing feud with Quentin Tarantino.

 
Quentin Tarantino vs. Spike Lee


Spike’s beef with Quentin began in December of 1997, with the release of Jackie Brown.  In an interview with Variety, he took Tarantino to task.  By his count, the n-word was used in the film 38 times.  He noted that Quentin had used it in all of his films up until that point.  He then stated "I'm not against the word... and I use it, but Quentin is infatuated with the word. What does he want? To be made an honorary black man?" 


Spike’s vitriol was surprising given his (then) recent history with Tarantino.  He’d given him a cameo role in his 1996 film Girl 6, which was released on March 22nd of that year.  The timeline of events up until that point proves very telling.  Quentin’s breakthrough film, Pulp Fiction, was released on October 14th of 1994.  In that film, as the character Jimmie, Tarantino performed the now infamous “Dead Nigger Storage” routine.  During that monologue, Tarantino used the N-word multiple times.  Not the colloquial variant, mind you, but the proper pronunciation.  If Spike was so disturbed by Quentin’s obsession with the word, why collaborate with him after the fact?  Did he just realize Quentin’s obsession while watching Jackie Brown?  I highly doubt it.  As Spike himself noted, Quentin had been using the word in all his films up until that point.   



Now let’s take a look at Spike’s criticisms of Django Unchained.  American slavery was not a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, according to him.  However, he certainly didn’t feel that way on August 21st, 1998, when he appeared on The Chris Rock Show.  During that episode, he and host Chris Rock lamented the (then) current state of Black cinema.  Spike cited John Singleton’s film Rosewood as an example of a quality Black film that performed poorly at the box office.  Rosewood was based on the 1923 Rosewood massacre that took place in Levy County, Florida.  The film was essentially a Schindler’s List rip-off that reimagined the horrible tragedy as…a western!  At one point, the character Mann (Played by Ving Rhames) becomes a gun-slinging hero.  No such events occurred in real life.  The film played fast and loose with historical facts.  Chris Rock interrupted Spike’s endorsement, saying that Rosewood, while positive, wasn’t actually good. 

 
Ving Rhames as Mann in John Singleton's Rosewood.


So what of his comparisons to The Birth of Nation?  Spike’s observation regarding the power of media is absolutely correct.  However, as people of color in America know very well, true racism hardly needs either motivation or justification.  Even a cursory glance at the right wing’s reaction to Obama’s presidency proves that emphatically. 


Ironically, a similar argument was once used by film critic David Denby to brand Lee as a rabble rouser.  In his review of Spike’s breakthrough feature Do The Right Thing, which originally ran in the June 26th, 1989 edition of New York Magazine, Denby said of the film “The end of this movie is a shambles and if audiences go wild, he’s partly responsible.  Lee wants to rouse people, to “wake them up.” But to do what?” 


In that very same issue, columnist Joe Klein weighed in with equally alarmist sentiments in his article “Spiked?”: “All these subtleties are likely to leave white (especially white liberal audiences) debating the meaning of Spike’s message.  Black teenagers won’t find it so hard though.  For them, the message is clear from the opening credits, which roll to the tune of ‘Fight The Power,’ performed by Public Enemy, a virulently anti-Semitic rap group (Professor Griff, the group’s minister of information, recently told the Washington Times that Jews were ‘responsible for the majority of wickedness that goes on around the globe’).” 


Griff was subsequently ejected from the group as a result of his comments.  Klein goes on to say that the film states that both the police and white people are the enemy of Black Americans.  Ironically, Spike seems to be doing exactly the same thing to Tarantino that Denby did to him.  By doing this, Spike has not only aligned himself with would be detractor’s such as Denby and Klein, but also conservative pundits such as Matt Drudge, who fear that Django Unchained might be a call to arms for the Black Community.  They think it might stir up the “good nigras.”  That’s exactly what Klein and Denby once thought of Do The Right Thing.  Interesting, isn’t it?


To be fair, Spike is surely not alone in his disdain for Django.  Among his most unlikely allies is conroversial film critic Armond White, who’s never exactly been his biggest fan.  In his scathing review of the film, which is titled “Still Not a Brother,” White predictably resorts to personal attacks. He brands Samuel L. Jackson an Uncle Tom of the worst order.  Such hyperbole is White’s stock-in-trade, as are his contrarian shtick and effete sensibilities.

 
Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen the house slave in Django Unchained.  Jackson was recently attacked by film critic Armond White, who accused the actor of being an Uncle Tom.  Obviously, White can't tell reality from fiction.


On the less vitriolic side of things is Erin Aubry Kaplan, who’s recent LA Times piece “'Django' an unsettling experience for many blacks,” lists reactions from a number of Black professionals who work within the entertainment industry (mostly in a behind-the-scenes or journalistic capacity).  She finds Tarantino’s  recent revelations decidedly trite, to say the least: “Tarantino has said in promoting ‘Django’ that America has never dealt honestly with its history of slavery — true, but general enough to be almost entirely uncontroversial.”


She also takes issue with his ideas about how future Black Audiences will receive Django: “In a recent interview with The (L.A.)Times, however, he assigned meaning to his new film in a way that he typically resists. ‘Even for the movie's biggest black detractors, I think their children will grow up and love this movie,’ he said. ‘I think it could become a rite of passage for young black males.’  The presumptuousness of that sentiment is striking to some — passage from what to what, exactly? Watching somebody getting blown away in nearly every frame hardly seems like indoctrination young black men need, if they haven't been indoctrinated into such violence already.”


Filmmaker Tanya Steele, a former student of Spike’s, concurs with Ms. Kaplan.  The Black film site Shadow and Act, Her analysis “Tarantino's Candy (Slavery In The White Male Imagination)” which was recently published on the Black film site Shadow and Act, asks “Is the culture any worse because of 'Django Unchained'? I don't think we are better because of it. Will it deepen discussions around slavery? Probably not. Will it decrease violence in the 'hood? Probably not, if anything, the gun received more glorification and worship. Not sure black males or anyone else needs that.” 


She then goes on to acknowledge the obvious appeal and entertainment value of the film.  Not to dismiss either Ms. Kaplan or Ms. Steele, but both come off as obviously intelligent and insightful sisters who quite obviously aren’t that enthralled with violent revenge thrillers.  Nor do they seem to grasp the concepts of allegory and myth.  Thankfully, there are many other Black folks that do.  Among Django’s supporters are Oprah Winfrey, Comedian D.L. Hughley, and most recently filmmaker Antoine Fuqua.  Fuqua recently came out in defense of Tarantino, noting Spike’s penchant for using the media as his own personal firing squad: "That’s just not the way you do things.  If you disagree with the way a colleague did something, call him up, invite him out for a coffee,talk about it. But don’t do it publicly."  Perhaps even more telling is that the film has been nominated for four image awards by the very organization that once lead the charge against such fare: The NAACP.


So just what is Spike’s real problem with Django Unchained?  I offer that his problem is either that he didn’t think of it first, or doesn’t have the clout and/or talent to pull it off.  Spike has never exactly been a populist filmmaker.  His works are fiercely personal.  He rarely if ever makes concessions to popular tastes.  He expects them (the audience) to come to him (the artist).  Over the last twenty years, moviegoers have been increasingly less willing to accommodate him in that regard.  At this point, one has to wonder if his position is dictated by his own limitations as a filmmaker.  He’s has never been the most adept storyteller around, and his meandering narratives can be frustrating for the uninitiated.  Tarantino is also a fiercely personal filmmaker.  It just so happens that his over-indulgences make for entertaining viewing.  Perhaps, a genre piece that uses American slavery as its backdrop is beyond Spike’s capabilities.


Spike, like the white aristocracy that he has always railed against, is part of a dying breed.  He’s represents an altogether different aristocracy.  He’d like to remake Black America in his image, dictating our collective tastes and mindset.  Slavery should only be depicted by him, in the kinds of films that he’d like to make.  Anyone who deviates from that path is either a house nigger or a wigger.  Well, if cheering on an ex-slave who ultimately takes his destiny into his own hands by seeking bloody revenge (with the help of a white liberal mentor, of course) makes me an Uncle Tom, than so f*cking be it!  Spike stopped understanding his audience a long time ago.  Meanwhile, Tarantino seems to know exactly what that audience wants to see, and delivers it in his own unique way.  More power to him.

Offline Pantherfan

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 364
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2013, 07:23:44 am »
The thing I like about Spike Lee is he isn't afraid to have an opinion or to make a stance that many view as unpopular or controversial. He does so without the approval of others and what people will think of him. He carries the same furor with his opinions like he does with his films.

Now I can see why he would say Slavery isn't a Spaghetti Western. I remember reading Spike Lee's autobiography and he wasn't a fan of blaxploitation films. Spike's mindset is more black middle class and the everyday struggles they go through dealing with society and each other. I suppose he could've chatted with Tarantino in private about his film and the choice to use the N word in most of his movies, but it wouldn't be Spike if he did cause controversy or speak his mind.

If any of you seen Bamboozled thirteen years ago, the character in the film, Mr. Dunwitty is like a parody of Tarantino taken to the extreme. I like both filmmakers equally.

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 10300
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2013, 04:27:15 pm »
I thought the Scottscope article was interesting, particularly in describing the history of Spike and Tarantino. But I also thought the writer was reaching a bit. I for one, though that Rosewood was a good film. It did have some Western aspects to it, I guess with Ving Rhames being a gunslinger and I believe he came in town on a horse, but it wasn't billed as a Western like Django has been and I didn't consider it such when I watched it. I also think it was unfair to call it a Schindler's List-rip off. I think Rosewood was a few steps below that in terms of gravity and scope, and while it did depict a lot of suffering and violence, it played more like an action film. The idea that Singleton's film gets criticized for playing fast and loose with the facts and Tarantino's antebellum fantasy doesn't, shows a biased streak from this writer.

I think it's interesting that Tarantino gets to be an artist while Spike is pilloried for doing that in this article. Tarantino is the more popular filmmaker, but does that make him the better filmmaker? That's subjective and I would argue not merely defined by box office receipts. Tarantino has a good deal of Hollywood machinery behind him that Spike Lee doesn't have. No black director does. Tyler Perry had to build his own machinery. So I'm skeptical of the writer's view that Spike has to 'share' the playing field with Tarantino. And what playing field would that be exactly? Chronicler of the black experience?

I certainly don't think that is what Tarantino has done in previous films, or even with Django. He did create a bold vision with Django, but it's a fantasy that doesn't compare with Spike's exploration of black life if we are using chronicling the black experience as the determinant. I could see Tyler Perry fitting that role more than Tarantino.

I also don't buy the writer's assertion that Spike has become like the white critics that once criticized his films.

I do think the writer makes some good points when they talk about Spike and Tarantino's relationship, post-Pulp Fiction. Also there might be some truth in Spike having a singular vision of how things should be or portrayed. And there could be some truth in the accusation of bitterness, but I don't think Spike is hating, at least not because he's a 'loser' and Tarantino is Charlie Sheen winning. The article shows that Spike has always been outspoken, even when he was more in vogue.

Lastly, I think the writer might be onto something when they mentioned Spike maybe not being able to conceive or pull off something like Django. I think that could be said though for many black directors today. The only one that has come close to that is John Singleton with Rosewood in terms of a historical story of black vengeance. Those kind of thoughts are not something that blacks, in general, are encouraged to entertain. Though I think some of us have forgotten Spike's history of inciting, challenging, and informing with his art. He could've gone a more mainstream, race neutral route, but as the writer said, his films are personal and his concerns remain rooted in the black community, in the black experience.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 04:30:32 pm by Emperorjones »

Offline Vic Vega

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 4148
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #40 on: January 03, 2013, 08:32:12 am »
I'm not on Spike's side on this one at all.

But even I don't think its fair or accurate to say that Spike is mad that he didn't think of Django first or that he doesn't have the talent or clout to pull it off.

That is absurd.

Spike's almost always made films from a personal observational level (with the exception of Clockers). Inside Man was him cashing a check.

Spike has no interest in making genre pulp. His issue is in not understanding genre pulp's value or not believing it has any value at all. That is why I call him an elitist.   

But that is very different from "Spike's just mad that he didn't think of it first".

Spike may be a snob but he isn't stupid. Right wing pundits are already calling Django an incitement to a race riot. And Tarantino's WHITE. Imagine if any Black Director had tried to make Django.

If anything Spike's mad that this white guy has license to make trival violent dribble about slavery when people like him can't get anything of substance made on that subject(and if a Rosewood does by some miracle gets made, we won't watch it).

« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 08:37:13 am by Vic Vega »

Offline Metro

  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 687
    • View Profile
    • Monmouth University
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #41 on: January 03, 2013, 09:18:10 am »

Related to the point of Spike and Reg's history, has anyone ever done a "Six Degrees of Separation" game (or "Kevin Bacon") with Reg as the focus.

It would be amazing to see any aspect of that network explored.

Metro
Dean Walter Greason
The Honors School
Monmouth University
(twitter) @worldprofessor

Offline Emperorjones

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 10300
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #42 on: January 03, 2013, 03:12:42 pm »
I'm not on Spike's side on this one at all.

But even I don't think its fair or accurate to say that Spike is mad that he didn't think of Django first or that he doesn't have the talent or clout to pull it off.

That is absurd.

Spike's almost always made films from a personal observational level (with the exception of Clockers). Inside Man was him cashing a check.

Spike has no interest in making genre pulp. His issue is in not understanding genre pulp's value or not believing it has any value at all. That is why I call him an elitist.   

But that is very different from "Spike's just mad that he didn't think of it first".

Spike may be a snob but he isn't stupid. Right wing pundits are already calling Django an incitement to a race riot. And Tarantino's WHITE. Imagine if any Black Director had tried to make Django.

If anything Spike's mad that this white guy has license to make trival violent dribble about slavery when people like him can't get anything of substance made on that subject(and if a Rosewood does by some miracle gets made, we won't watch it).

VV,

While I don't agree with your belief that Spike is a snob, I like how you explained what you meant when you called him an elitist. I don't think he is that either, but I did like how you broke that down. I also agreed with a lot of the other things you said.

Offline sherelled

  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 250
    • View Profile
    • https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4555092605573&set=a.1551655401520.77168.1539197080&type=1&theater
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2013, 12:08:15 am »
SMH we are still talking about Spike too. It's a Win Win. Something tells me Django is going to win big! ;D
Something tells me Spike's popularity will get him some recognition somewhere. Maybe some financing for a movie idea of his. (Shrug) I don't know. Buttera, Ya'll still talking about it. And that is a good thing ;D

Offline Kristopher

  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 1229
    • View Profile
Re: Spike Lee and His Hatership
« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2013, 05:11:08 am »
Something tells me Spike's popularity will get him some recognition somewhere. Maybe some financing for a movie idea of his. (Shrug) I don't know.
Well, he's Directing and Producing the American remake of "Oldboy" with a very talented cast the includes Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli and Lance Reddick. So, I guess Spike will be just fine.