You sound like my wife.
July 9, 2012 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Spike Lee on New York, Obama, film, Hollywood, reality teevee, marriage equality, Taylor Lautner, and so forth.
posted by shakespeherian (84 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I’m not commenting on Quentin Tarantino or Django.
posted by OmieWise at 12:06 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


NYM: Your offices are three blocks from the Barclays Center. Do you think the Nets will change Brooklyn?
SL: I am happy for Brooklyn, but I’m not leaving my beloved orange and blue.


Yeah, that was going to be my first question.
posted by obscurator at 12:08 PM on July 9, 2012


I’m not commenting on Quentin Tarantino or Django.

Wow, they really did some chasing on that. That's a little gross.
posted by Artw at 12:15 PM on July 9, 2012


I live in Cobble Hill, where you grew up, and it’s so gentrified now that it’s almost entirely white people with strollers like me.
Where are you from?
Well, I’ve lived in New York for twelve years, but I am originally from Central Illinois.
I am trying to detect your accent.
It took me a long time to get rid of it, to be honest.
You did not get rid of it.
Spike Lee, I love you.
posted by griphus at 12:18 PM on July 9, 2012 [19 favorites]


I’m not commenting on Quentin Tarantino or Django.

Wow, they really did some chasing on that. That's a little gross.


...? I didn't think there was much gross about it.

Tarantino, on Charlie Rose:

As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. I demand the right to be them, I demand the right to think them and I demand the right to tell the truth as I see they are, all right? And to say that I can't do that because I'm white, but the Hughes brothers can do that because they're black, that is racist. That is the heart of racism, all right. And I do not accept that ... That is how a segment of the black community that lives in Compton, lives in Inglewood, where Jackie Brown takes place, that lives in Carson, that is how they talk. I'm telling the truth. It would not be questioned if I was black, and I resent the question because I'm white. I have the right to tell the truth. I do not have the right to lie.
posted by kbanas at 12:28 PM on July 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Great interview, thanks!

NYM: Your offices are three blocks from the Barclays Center. Do you think the Nets will change Brooklyn?
SL: I am happy for Brooklyn, but I’m not leaving my beloved orange and blue.


We'll see if Jeremy Lin is as loyal.

Wow, they really did some chasing on that. That's a little gross.

Enh, it's fair. Spike Lee had a very public dust-up with QT over Jackie Brown, so it's far from out of line for a journalist to try to get some words out of Lee on a project that's even more potentially offensive, just as Lee is very well within his rights to not want to deal with the issue.

Sidenote: last night my SO and I saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. We enjoyed it for what it was, but it was pretty damn weird seeing a Hollywood action movie incorporate slavery (and countless slaves!) into its narrative.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:31 PM on July 9, 2012


He was on TCM the other night talking up classics like "On the Waterfront" and "Ace in the Hole." I felt a little happiness pass through me when he paused and talked about the final shot in "Ace in the Hole" and described how he paid homage to it in one of his films, I forget now which one.

In a better world Spike Lee would be getting money thrown at him left and right to film whatever the hell he wanted.
posted by blucevalo at 12:31 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Kind of a nitpick here, but why so few contractions? Both the interviewer and Lee's words are written in a way that sounds so non-conversational.

I cannot imagine..
That does not bother me.
...these kids do not know...

Perhaps my desire to read interviews as if I'm listening in on a conversation is getting in the way here.
posted by revmitcz at 12:33 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think that's just a side effect of Lee's positronic brain.
posted by theodolite at 12:35 PM on July 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


I just returned to Brooklyn, which is my hometown, after being away for about five years. My first thought was "Where are the black and Hispanic people?" (I'm black). My second thought was "Why is there Applebees on every corner?"

I agree with Spike that gentrification can be good, but not when it makes a place "less special." The Brooklyn I knew and loved as a child, even one of modest means, is gone. And I can't stop being sad about that.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 12:35 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


It must be pretty amazing that Obama took Michelle to Do the Right Thing.
When he was sizing Michelle up, this fine woman, he said, “How am I going to impress her?” I always kid him, good thing he didn’t choose motherfucking Driving Miss Daisy or she would have dumped his ass right there.
Ah this interview is gold.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:37 PM on July 9, 2012 [19 favorites]


And +1 for Spike shouting out cocolevio ... which is still a game only played in BK!
posted by nubianinthedesert at 12:39 PM on July 9, 2012


My second thought was "Why is there Applebees on every corner?"

Whatever the other flaws of gentrified Brooklyn, there are only four Applebeeses in the borough.

"Quaint" little coffee shops with a half-life of thirteen months, on the other hand...
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:39 PM on July 9, 2012


Sticherbeast: Touche ... but the point remains ... Applebees???!!!!
posted by nubianinthedesert at 12:41 PM on July 9, 2012


Four Applebeeses in an urban area are four Applebeeses too many.
posted by kmz at 12:41 PM on July 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


I cannot imagine what it must be like for you to walk around Cobble Hill now and see wheat-germ places and Pilates.

That does not bother me. What bothers me is that these kids do not know the street games we grew up with. Stoop ball, stickball, cocolevio, crack the top, down the sewer, Johnny on the pony, red light green light one-two-three. These are New York City street games.
An interesting point that I suspect applies to many, many cities and neighborhoods that face gentrification issues.
posted by smirkette at 12:46 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Stoop ball, stickball, cocolevio, crack the top, down the sewer, Johnny on the pony, red light green light one-two-three.

Any bets on Spike Lee's kids never playing any of these games? Or indeed ever hanging around on any corners?
posted by Ideefixe at 1:12 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I grew up in Long Island. Is cocolevio anything like ringalevio?
posted by tommasz at 1:12 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love this interview. This is what happens when the interviewer and the subject listen to each other and actually try to have a conversation.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:13 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whatever the other flaws of gentrified Brooklyn, there are only four Applebeeses in the borough.

When I started reading that sentence, I was expecting it to end with "there is not a single Applebees in the borough." Because that would have been an actual retort. But what's this, now? There are four Applebees in Brooklyn? There are ten Applebees in the entire Los Angeles metro area - so Los Angeles (with a population of 12,828,837) has more than half a million more residents per Applebees than Brooklyn (population 2,532,645). I propose renaming Brooklyn to "New Indianapolis."
posted by The World Famous at 1:19 PM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


We'll see if Jeremy Lin is as loyal.

Spike Lee is a fan, Jeremy Lin is/was an employee.
posted by inigo2 at 1:26 PM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Excellent interview.

I'm still mad that Denzel Washington didn't win the Best Actor Oscar for Malcolm X.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:39 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I’m not commenting on Quentin Tarantino or Django.

Wow, they really did some chasing on that. That's a little gross.

...? I didn't think there was much gross about it.


I guess, much like not wanting to see sausage being made, I don't really want to see a journalist on the hunt for an inflammatory pull quote.

He was on TCM the other night talking up classics like "On the Waterfront" and "Ace in the Hole." I felt a little happiness pass through me when he paused and talked about the final shot in "Ace in the Hole" and described how he paid homage to it in one of his films, I forget now which one.

Awesome movie, everyone should hunt it down if they've not seen it. He referenced in Malcom X according to this.
posted by Artw at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2012


We'll see if Jeremy Lin is as loyal.

Lin is very likely to sign an offer sheet with the Houston Rockets as soon as the moratorium on league business is lifted on Wednesday. The Knicks can match the offer, but it is probably a waste of money. However, the Knicks have said that they will keep Lin at any cost, so they'll match the offer and he'll be back in New York. /derail

Great interview. Thanks for posting.
posted by King Bee at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2012


I grew up in Long Island. Is cocolevio anything like ringalevio?

Yes, it is exactly that.
posted by jscott at 1:56 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a writer, I demand the right to write any character in the world that I want to write. I demand the right to be them, I demand the right to think them and I demand the right to tell the truth as I see they are, all right? And to say that I can't do that because I'm white, but the Hughes brothers can do that because they're black, that is racist. That is the heart of racism, all right.

Um, no. Sorry. Tarantino is a talented filmmaker and all, but this quote from him comes off as snotty and entitled. That's kind of his thing though I guess.
posted by windbox at 1:56 PM on July 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


@tommasz: It's cocolevio in Brooklyn, while parts of the Bronx and I guess, the Island, call it ringolevio.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 2:00 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I loved this exchange:
I was on the cover of Esquire magazine for Malcolm X. You know what the cover title was?

I’m afraid to ask.
“Spike Lee hates your cracker ass.”

Was that a quote?
No, it was not a quote.
posted by Phire at 2:04 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good read, thanks.
posted by Gator at 2:06 PM on July 9, 2012


Tarantino is a talented filmmaker and all, but this quote from him comes off as snotty and entitled.

I'm pretty sure you can append this statement to roughly anything you pull out of an interview with him.
posted by griphus at 2:11 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lee says that Clint Eastwood whitewashes war by not having more black soldiers in his World War II films, but the US military was segregated during World War II and the majority of African Americans were relegated to service units; some soldiers served in segregated combat units. There were about 2,000 black Marines at Okinawa, in ammunition and depot companies, out of about 183,000 Allied personnel.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:16 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of upset that Spike Lee gets any publicity these days given he is a well documented racist.
posted by sourbrew at 2:24 PM on July 9, 2012


I'm kind of upset that calling Spike Lee racist gets any publicity these days given that it is a well documented silly thing to say.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:26 PM on July 9, 2012 [25 favorites]


The documents, please, sir.
posted by griphus at 2:27 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


It must be pretty amazing that Obama took Michelle to Do the Right Thing.
When he was sizing Michelle up, this fine woman, he said, “How am I going to impress her?” I always kid him, good thing he didn’t choose motherfucking Driving Miss Daisy or she would have dumped his ass right there.

♥ Spike
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:28 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reading that felt like eavesdropping on a conversation between two old friends catching up over coffee and breakfast.
posted by schmod at 2:28 PM on July 9, 2012


I want to take what he said about taking public transportation to the new stadium and POST IT EVERYWHERE - the Barclay's Center is just ten blocks south of me and what he says about traffic is absolutely true.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:39 PM on July 9, 2012


Trolling: unsuccessful.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:39 PM on July 9, 2012


The documents, please, sir.

George Zimmerman tweets, Clint Eastwood brewhahaha, the assertion that anyone who doesn't support Obama is a racist.

All this man does is play the reverse race card. Hell he's been defending himself against charges of racism and anti semitism since the 1990.

There's also a fair amount of anecdotal evidence about his treatment of white fans and reporters.

You can troll this reddit thread for some 40 or 50 odd encounters with the public where he was a giant dick to various white people.

I suppose you could say that just makes him an ass, but I'd say the pattern makes him a racist.
posted by sourbrew at 2:41 PM on July 9, 2012


since 1990, not the 1990, although I am not wishing I had someone who could show up to parties named the 1990, who would epitomize that heady era of optimism and bad 80's clothing choices.
posted by sourbrew at 2:42 PM on July 9, 2012


I can't wait to read that reddit thread about it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:43 PM on July 9, 2012


Is the reverse race card like the regular race card, except it doesn't exist like reverse racism?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:44 PM on July 9, 2012 [10 favorites]


A r/politics thread cataloging a black person's racism is like is like me and my boyfriend telling a straight couple they shouldn't peg.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:51 PM on July 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


You can troll this reddit thread for some 40 or 50 odd encounters with the public where he was a giant dick to various white people.

I suppose you could say that just makes him an ass, but I'd say the pattern makes him a racist.


I haven't read any of that thread. But I did meet Spike Lee once in, I think, 1989 or 1990, not too long after Do The Right Thing came out, in circumstances where I had a chance to actually carry on a bit of a conversation with him and where it wasn't a bunch of fans asking for autographs or whatever. He was very cool, great to talk with, incredibly generous with his time and patient in discussing the film with a naive, skinny, white teenager. I think we may have discussed Public Enemy, as well, as I was a huge fan of theirs, too.

I met Ted Nugent right around that same time, too. He was a giant dick. And, from what I've heard, the Nuge is a giant dick to white people at least as often as Spike Lee is. I guess I'm saying I think your theory sucks.
posted by The World Famous at 2:53 PM on July 9, 2012 [20 favorites]


A r/politics thread cataloging a black person's racism is like is like me and my boyfriend telling a straight couple they shouldn't peg.

Which is why it's just one of, and the last of the 5 things I sited as evidence supporting my assertion.
posted by sourbrew at 2:54 PM on July 9, 2012


And yet it somehow undermines the rest of the 'evidence.' It's a funny ol' world.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:55 PM on July 9, 2012


Anyway, I wonder if I'll like Red Hook Summer? I'm intrigued--unlike Woody Allen, I love Spike in his own films, but sometimes Spikes brilliant political points can turn a premise into a diatribe (like in Bamboozled, which I nodded at a lot but didn't enjoy).
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2012


Perhaps you can tell me about all of the times Spike Lee has supported vigilante justice against African Americans from his twitter account.
posted by sourbrew at 3:04 PM on July 9, 2012


I'm totally going with the expectation that it's a radical reworking of the Lovecraft story.
posted by Artw at 3:07 PM on July 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


What would you consider a statistically significant number of times for the purpose of your analysis?
posted by The World Famous at 3:08 PM on July 9, 2012


In a better world Spike Lee would be getting money thrown at him left and right to film whatever the hell he wanted.

I'm actually not sure that's true. And I say this as a huge, huge fan. It seems to me that the times that SL gets to do whatever he wants, his films tend to wander a bit. I'm thinking of Bamboozled, Inside Man, or Summer Of Sam. Not bad movies by any stretch, but certainly could have used a bit of a pare down. Certainly Malcom X is the exception, but there was such a huge expectation on his shoulders there, you could argue that it was as limiting as a small budget.

Now you take something like Get On The Bus, and you have amazing Spike. Issues that are under the surface brought right out with insanely good acting. Or 25th hour, which was such a killer, tight story.

Mind you I'm not sure where to place Miracle At St Anna, I'm still conflicted about it, so my theory may not hold water.

I will say, of all the directors in the world, he just seems to never get his due. He is an American genius, and should be respected as such.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:09 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh man 25th hour that's a great movie. Might be my favorite movie by a director who sometimes says wild inflammatory stuff that nevertheless isn't at all racist by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:12 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tsk. Summer of Sam was great!
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on July 9, 2012


Yeah Art, and so was Inside Man, which was only crippled by the casting of Clive Owen who couldn't switch off the Bond to play the everyman role that was called for in my opinion.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:16 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]



Tsk. Summer of Sam was great!

I love that hallucinatory sweating mess of a movie.
posted by The Whelk at 3:17 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey sourbrew, this is kind of sad and pathetic. You should stop now. Please.
posted by lattiboy at 3:18 PM on July 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


What hallucinations? Dogs tell people to kill hookers all the time!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:19 PM on July 9, 2012


Fact: Not all dogs are assholes, but all talking dogs are. #facts #dogs
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:20 PM on July 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I took Lee's screenwriting course in college and it was a really enjoyable experience, though I have to say that I never had a one-on-one conversation with him as long or as wide-ranging as this interview; now I wish I had.
posted by escabeche at 3:21 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Spike Lee hates dogs!
posted by Artw at 3:22 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have also met Lee and he was gracious with me. And that was back in 1990 or so when I was getting up in everyone's face so it's a testament to him that he managed to remain calm or I'd be calling him a Dobbsist right here in this thread.

I guess, much like not wanting to see sausage being made, I don't really want to see a journalist on the hunt for an inflammatory pull quote.

Lee has publicly commented on Tarantino in the past, which is probably why the question was asked. (I know for sure he said, "Too many "niggas"" when asked what he thought of Jackie Brown as I remember the brouhaha.
posted by dobbs at 3:22 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would take his class on screenwriting or Scorcese in a heartbeat.
posted by Artw at 3:23 PM on July 9, 2012


[Folks, don't turn this into an "Is Spike Lee racist" thread and once you've shared your opinion about that, don't keep poking people with it. Please. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 3:25 PM on July 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


If he taught a class on the Knicks I would pay double-Jeremy-Lin pay to sit in the back.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:27 PM on July 9, 2012


MetaFilter: You did not get rid of it.
posted by Splunge at 3:30 PM on July 9, 2012


The interview makes it seem as though Spike does not use contractions when he speaks, and I am very pleased with that for some reason.
posted by scratch at 3:34 PM on July 9, 2012


I know everyone's probably seen it who might care, but peep Spike in Reggie Miller: Winning Time. So great/annoying. The world needs more intellectual (and physical) gadflies.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:34 PM on July 9, 2012


Inside Man, which was only crippled by the casting of Clive Owen who couldn't switch off the Bond to play the everyman role that was called for in my opinion.

Omigod you figured out for me why I had the reaction I did to that movie. Thank you, sincerely.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:50 PM on July 9, 2012


I don't think you can characterise Inside Man as a film where Lee got the money to do whatever he wanted. It was very much a studio film, and he would have been working with all kinds of restrictions (love the film, myself).
posted by smoke at 4:12 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


"That’s how I’m going to answer that question."

One.... two.... TWO! Two contractions! Oh Mr. Lee, how naughty!

The contractions thing pleases me, too, but also makes me hate him. It's a hateful type of pleasure, I guess.
posted by papayaninja at 7:35 PM on July 9, 2012


Oh I am so ready to start referring to years as "The 20xx"

The 2012. The 2005.

I genuinely love this. :)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:46 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also Spike was the only director that made 1970s caliber movies after 1979.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:49 PM on July 9, 2012


It was very much a studio film, and he would have been working with all kinds of restrictions (love the film, myself).

Me, too. One of the best heist movies I've ever watched. Spike is awesome.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:27 AM on July 10, 2012


Oh don't get me wrong, I love it too, I just think, in retrospect, Owen might be played a bit too heist movie-y.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:41 AM on July 10, 2012


Plus, what a heist it was.
posted by Edison Carter at 6:49 AM on July 10, 2012


Awesome interview.
posted by cell divide at 6:53 AM on July 10, 2012


Vulture also has an interview with Oliver Stone.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:01 AM on July 10, 2012


God damn you people why has no one mentioned She Hate Me yet?!

My wife and I went on a binge of Spike's films a few years ago and coincidentally ended up watching She Hate Me (which nobody watched or liked) and Richard Kelly's Southland Tales (which nobody watched or liked) in rapid succession. I loved both movies. I'd say I loved them more than I liked them: they're like direct links to the brains and hearts of the guys who wrote/directed them. Mash those two films together and you've got an brilliantly unwatchable movie about what the Bush years were like. Each just an incredible experience.

Bamboozled hit me harder than those two flicks but it's less unapologetically daft than either. In a just world there'd be thousands of young filmmakers pouring as much heart into their films as Spike does.
posted by waxbanks at 8:19 AM on July 10, 2012


Vulture also has an interview with Oliver Stone.

Poor old Oliver Stone. I'm pretty much just assuming his new movie is rubbish.
posted by Artw at 8:22 AM on July 10, 2012


Oliver Stone's name in a trailer pretty much immediately makes me lose interest.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:30 AM on July 10, 2012


I don't think you can characterise Inside Man as a film where Lee got the money to do whatever he wanted. It was very much a studio film, and he would have been working with all kinds of restrictions (love the film, myself).

Yeah, well maybe. I liked it just fine, but I think it could have lost about 20 minutes and been a much better film. That's all I'm saying.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:53 AM on July 10, 2012


Poor old Oliver Stone. I'm pretty much just assuming his new movie is rubbish.

Oh, it's worse than rubbish.
posted by dobbs at 12:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stoop ball, stickball, cocolevio, crack the top, down the sewer, Johnny on the pony, red light green light one-two-three.

WTF spike. You forgot skelly and suicide.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:28 PM on July 10, 2012


They say that [Brooklyn Heights ­private school] Saint Ann’s was formed because parents did not want us black kids in their schools in Brooklyn Heights.

Interesting to note that His mother taught literature at St Anns and all his siblings went there.

I don't think he is quite correct about crossing Atlantic into a mob area. Carroll Gardens really didn't extend up that far near Clinton street, I think he would have had to go ten blocks farther. Of course over by Smith it was a Purto Rican neighborhood.

Anyway, I agree with Spike, sure was different then. Of course everyone is tired of hearing it by now.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:38 PM on July 10, 2012


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