Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Spike Lee Pride and Prejudice :: essays papers
Spike Lee Pride and Prejudice Anyone who would dismiss Spike Lee as a racist is confusing pride with prejudice. Sure, he's abrasive, blunt, unvarnished and maybe egotistical. But he's also got the self-confidence, fearlessness and knowledge of his personal mission that in past years, and some parts of Idaho today, would have gotten him called an uppity N-word, maybe worse. This reaction to him, to him in America today, and on our campus this week, is an illustration of how far whites (yes, whites) in this nation have not come. Lee makes films about various aspects of the African-American experience in America. His debut in 1986, "She's Gotta Have It," was about the man problems and prevails of a young black woman in the big city. "Do the Right Thing," his 1989 incitement of racial strife was a warning flag of urban angers a full three years before the L.A. Riots. "Malcolm X" was a stirring bio-pic about the slain black leader who preached a strident brand of self reliance in an age when most said looking to the government for help was the last best hope of African-Americans. It was also the best film biography since "Gandhi." "Gandhi" may be the best bio-pic ever. Are other filmmakers, like Martin Scorsese or Oliver Stone criticized for telling stories about exclusively white protagonists? Does anyone wave the flag of racism when Woody Allen makes his 100th film about neurotic Jewish men in New York? No, and they shouldn't. Creators work on what they know. The very fact that Lee is labeled and thought of as the "black filmmaker" is an illustration of just how right Lee is when he talks about the largely lily-white nature of Hollywood, and the nation it entertains. And a lot of what he has said, even the supposedly racist comments, have plucked a tone of truth in areas where, frankly, most whites would prefer the strings go unplucked. His most famous comment, that blacks by definition cannot be racist, was right. When he said that, he was talking about institutional racism (a fact adroitly cut from most news accounts of his comments). Blacks, by definition, can't be institutionally racist. They simply don't have the power. Maybe someday they will, but now, you can't point to any institution, and very few corporations, in which African-Americans have enough power to even exercise the thought of implementing institutional racism.