The problem I have with Spike Lee, and I think it’s fair to say that I do have a problem with him, is that he rarely seems to feel free enough to simply make movies.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Spike. Behind Woody Allen and Tarantino, he’s my third favorite filmmaker. And that’s not on some bullshit/just cause-he’s-Black shit.
I think Spike has hit the ball hard a few times. And Inside Man he put out the park. Arguments can also be made for Summer of Sam, Bamboozled was brilliant – if borderline unwatchable – and if the 90’s was your main pussy-getting era, how could you not have a soft spot for Mo’ Betta Blues?
But while Woody has put his Jewishness through the wringer, and Tarantino seems to lose all self for the sake of the product, Spike’s approach to film making has been too filled with that old-school “sense of responsibility” bullshit that historically handicapped Black Art because of it’s necessity to show us, as a people, in a positive light.
Who gives a fuck if we’re in a positive light? Just turn them shits up bright and let things look how they look.
I’m gonna sidebar for a sec, but in a minute it’s going to relate to my point: the night Mike Tyson got clobbered by Lennox Lewis, I was at a fight party with this “actor” who said he couldn’t have been Ving Rhames in the movie Pulp Fiction.
“Why not?” I asked, hoping he wasn’t gonna say what I thought he might. Sure enough…
“Cause he gets fucked in the ass,” the actor said.
“No he doesn’t,” I protested. “The character does.”
“Well, I couldn’t play no character that gets fucked in the ass,” the actor said.
“But if you’re an actor…”
And I let that shit linger, just like that.
When I was young and too dumb to know better, I used to be impressed by the Black actors or actresses that wouldn’t, on principle, play slaves or pimps or whores. They felt those roles “degraded” them. Now I wonder what the fuck was wrong with those same actors and actresses.
I’m a writer and if some Black people don’t like the shit that I write, they can eat the dick that came out of Marsellus Wallace’s ass.
My writing’s got to be up to my standards and if it’s great or it sucks, judge it by its merits, not the color of the hand that produced it.
A real actor would be an Oscar-worthy slave, pimp, ho, or drug dealer – shout out Larenz Tate as “O Dog”, I see you! – and if you wouldn’t play a role you feel “degrades” you, you’ve already degraded your alleged craft.
Now back to Spike; maybe his movies age better than they issue. Swear to God, I saw She’s Gotta Have It again recently and it was damn sure one of the 10 best movies of the 80’s.
And it’s absolute bullshit that he doesn’t have not a single fucking Oscar.
Fuck that his Malcolm X deserved at least a “Costume Design” joint, what was everybody else watching when Four Little Girls was nominated?
Just saw the trailer for Spike’s new shit, Chiraq. You can tell it’s based on Lysistrata; the classic Greek play in which wives and girlfriends withhold the goods to make their men come home from war. Looks interesting, but I’m biting my nails that it’s not too School Daze-ish.
The guy in the picture under Sam Jackson is Steven Tyler Williams, star of Spike’s Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus. Met him at the library on Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx where I come to get my free wifi.