FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York, NY (May 28, 2009)—On this weekend’s special edition of Our World With Black Enterprise, award-winning director Spike Lee sits down for an interview with host Ed Gordon for a no holds barred interview rife with the artist’s trademark frankness. Taped live at the 14th annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, Lee takes no prisoners, tackling being labeled controversial, discussing his concern about the image of blacks in the media, and weighing in with his thoughts on contemporaries John Singleton and Tyler Perry.
On his films being labeled “controversial”:
I think journalists are lazy—how do you define people with one word? The subject matters we’ve done in my films—I don’t think they are controversial. I don’t think racism is controversial, it’s thought provoking. If you look at how we dealt with that in Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Malcolm X [etc.]. I don’t think School Daze was controversial. We looked at what I feel are the superficial differences that keep us from being a more unified people. Superficial differences based on skin complexion, hair texture, class—that type of stuff. That’s not controversial.
On his films becoming a part of people’s lives:
It’s great. Many people have told me over the years that they ended up going to a historically black college because of School Daze and they never listened to jazz before Mo’ Better Blues or Do The Right Thing. Barack took Michelle to see Do The Right Thing. That was their first date, so it’s good to hear that sort of thing … that’s President Barack and the First Lady, Michelle (laughter).
On the difficulty he has funding movies:
I still think that with material that is deeply rooted in African American history, it’s harder to get that stuff made. I have a trilogy of black biopics that I have yet to get funded—Jackie Robinson, another one on Joe Louis, then most recently James Brown—I want Wesley Snipes to play James Brown. We just can’t get the financing for them. So we just have to be more creative and try and get the money. Even with the last film, Miracle at St. Anna—the bulk of that money came from
On the era of Blaxploitation movies:
I understood that a lot of actors were getting work, I understood that a lot of people were getting experience behind the camera. But I don’t know why we were glorifying drug dealers. It’s the same thing with this gangta rap—you know, the glorification of “thuggery” and gangsters. … These hip-hop guys boast how many times they have seen Scarface. It’s crazy. It is really leading to our demise.
On stereotypical images of blacks in the media:
Each artist should be allowed to pursue their artistic endeavors but I still think there is a lot of stuff out today that is “coonery” and buffoonery. I know it’s making a lot of money and breaking records, but we can do better. … I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on
On Tyler Perry and what the black consumer (really) wants to see:
We’ve had this discussion back and forth. When John Singleton [made Boyz in the Hood], people came out to see it. But when he did Rosewood, nobody showed up. So a lot of this is on us! You vote with your pocketbook, your wallet. You vote with your time sitting in front of the idiot box, and [Tyler Perry] has a huge audience. We shouldn’t think that Tyler Perry is going to make the same film that I am going to make, or that John Singleton or my cousin Malcolm Lee [would make]. As African Americans, we’re not one monolithic group so there is room for all of that. But at the same time, for me, the imaging is troubling and it harkens back to Amos n’ Andy.
On the election of a black President:
It was witnessing history. It was like being alive when Jackie Robinson integrated baseball, when Joe Louis knocked out (Max) Schmeling—it was like that. When Jackie Robinson played for the Dodgers, every African American in this country was praying for him. When Joe Louis fought and won, black communities—in
On what black
Now that Barack Hussein Obama has become the 44th president of the
Our World with Black Enterprise will air its exclusive interview with Spike Lee on Saturday, May 30, and Sunday, May 31, in major markets across the country, including