Remember when Spike Lee was budding with creative energy that you could almost see resonating from his body? That was a long time ago. Somewhere along the line Spike decided he was going to become a professional complainer, which is a shame because everyone knows he’d be a better professional filmmaker. At a screening of his latest film, Red Hook Summer, the complainer informed his audience that Hollywood executives know nothing about black people:
“We never went to the studios with this film, Chris [Rock] … I told you, we’re gonna do this motherfucking film ourselves! … I didn’t want to hear no motherfucking notes from the studio telling me about what a young 13-year-old boy and girl would do in Red Hook. Fuck no. They know nothing about black people. Nothing!”
Studio executives don’t know a lot about a lot things, and if this was a one-off rant I’d sympathize with Spike. But throughout his career he has forwarded the weird (racist?) notion that only black people can understand black people. Correction: Only black people who agree with Spike Lee can understand black people. It’s a mindset that I covered when “Madea” fans explicitly stated that white critics shouldn’t review the films.
What would be the reaction if white movie critics threw it out there that perhaps the new Wes Anderson movie, Moonrise Kingdom, should be off limits to black critics because of Anderson’s “white” sensibilities?
“Edward Norton. Jason Schwartzman. Bill Murray. Bruce Willis. Wire Fox Terriers! Nope, Spike, this film just might be too white for you to understand.”
Somehow, I don’t think Mr. Spike Lee would be happy. And rightfully so. Just as it would be weird (and racist) for me to insinuate my cultural background had an impenetrable wall of awesome whiteness around it, it’s equally backwards for Spike Lee to insinuate that only liberal, angry black guys can accurately critique a movie made by liberal, angry black guys.
Call me when you start making movies instead of cathartic releases, Spike. Oh, wait, I forgot—you’re old. You’re probably not going to change. Sad.