Unlike most of my blogger brethren, I would certainly never dismiss anything Spike Lee had to say. He is, after all, one of America’s best — and, in my opinion, one of Hollywood’s most screwed over – filmmakers.  So his objections to Django Unchained are worth noting.  In an interview, Lee said:

“All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors,” says Lee. “That’s just me…I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.”

He also tweeted:

@Spike Lee  American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.  It Was A Holocaust.  My Ancestors Are Slaves.  Stolen From Africa.  I Will Honor Them.

That set off a bit of a firestorm on Twitter. Naturally, sides will be taken. Some will back up Lee’s objections. Some won’t. Some won’t want anything to get in the way of the wildly entertaining movie that is Django Unchained.  But it’s worth noting, nonetheless.  Lee states over and over that it’s just his opinion. Of course, “just” is a loaded word here. Many respect Lee’s take, especially when it comes to films and, perhaps, racism in Hollywood.

Thus, the ongoing war that white people have basically won in Hollywood, despite the powerful box office demographic African Americans represent.  Spike Lee labeled “uppity” for years after Do the Right Thing.  Moreover, were he to make Django Unchained he would be crucified.  Someone went on a tirade on Facebook about how Jamie Foxx was joking on Saturday Night Live about killing white people.  So, if Spike Lee had made a movie where one of the black characters said to one of the white characters, “I like the way you die, boy,” let’s just say A) it would never get made in the first place, and B) he’d be crucified.  That’s the double standard at play.

On the other hand, does Tarantino not have a right to delve into that history? It’s white America’s history, too.  That history came roaring back with the election this year, when President’s Obama’s re-election shook a dirty blanket and a whole of bunch dirty bugs flew out and tweeted all manner of repulsive, racist things. These tweets were traced back to young people in the deep South, many of whom went to Christian school. So I think Tarantino has the right, as an artist, to explore the enduring conflict of America’s crimes of against humanity.  That’s just my opinion on it, but I respect Spike Lee’s opinion, too.

More tweets:

Some of the response tweets:

@JSim07: MAN I been waiting for you to speak on it! Never is there a point in Inglorious Bastards where Jews are the butt of the joke…

@CincinnatiGAZzy  He speaks with authority on this issue and if he doesn’t want to see the movie, I think he’s entitled to say why.

@ba_benny_boy anyone who thinks anything is ‘just’ a movie, just a news piece etc doesn’t understand the power of the media.

Randall ‏@LoveyChuhtha If @SpikeLee doesn’t like Django that’s ok. He has the right to an opinion. Don’t just agree with him though. See it for yourself.
 ‏@Elxie3 *Then Spike Lee dropped the mic and walked off stage* BOOM.
@lolaadesioye amazed that someone could say sth so ridiculous! If the goal was picking cotton etc, why not pick it yr damn self?
 ‏@SpikeLee @NordlingAICN: Plus, Sam Jackson and Jamie Foxx are frigging amazing in it.”Samuel And Jamie Are Great Actors,And What Is Your Point?
@JeleahBadu  I’m 16 and more educated about slavery and our history than this adults. They truly need to pick up and book and LEARN !

@Essimi: I’ve seen Django. The film is good but i understand your opinion. We need your free of speech.”ALL LOVE,BRO.

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  • President’s Obama’s re-election shook a dirty blanket and a whole of bunch dirty bugs flew out


  • VVS

    He doesn’t make much of case for it. He’s complaining that a Tarantino film about Slavery looks like a Tarantino film and not a documentary. Sounds like buying oranges and complaining they dont taste like apples.

  • Danemychal

    Spike Lee? No one cares what he says anymore. He’s clinging to controversy in order to retain some semblance of relevance. If Django had been made by a black director, he’d hail it a masterpiece.

  • He’s in no position to call it anything, though, whether a masterpiece or disrespectful. He hasn’t seen it, and has no intention of seeing it.

    People have been branding his opinion irrelevant for years. Way to go about changing that, Spike, by unnecessarily voicing your irrelevant opinion.

  • Gunter

    Not interested in seeing a bloody, violent movie over the holidays. Spike is entitled to his opinion but in my opinion, “revisionist history” helps no one in the 21st century understand the horror of slavery any better.

  • Justin

    Spike never ceases an opportunity to play the race card! Why does anyone give this racist hack the time of day anymore? “I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to express the views of black people who otherwise don’t have access to power and the media. I have to take advantage of that while I’m still bankable.” If I was a black person I’d be offended by this as all of his characters are awful stereotypes & usually just as racist/hateful as Spike is…

  • Nic V

    First of all Tarantino lives for this type of controversy. That’s why he makes these films. Why shouldn’t Spike Lee be allowed to voice his opinion? He isn’t offering a critique of the Film or it’s Production values, he’s making a personal statement about how he feels about the subject matter and how it’s reportedly being handled. Did everyone in America think that the Black community was going to jump up and down and embrace Django? Obviously at this point there are a lot of people concerned about any number of issues surrounding Django. The violence is probably the biggest concern after our recent experience with violence in America. But just because Spike Lee hasn’t or will not see Django doesn’t take away his right to speak his mind. Let someone tell any of you that you can’t voice your perception. I bet that would go over like a ton of bricks. Hell we do that at this site all the time while we play the Oscar game.

  • Aragorn

    I bet Al Sharpton is next to make a similar statement. He never misses an opportunity!

    What stops Spike Lee from making a more “realistic” and “respectful” movie about his own ancestory in 2013???

  • But did Lee think Tarantino was a respectful man?
    Poor Lee…

  • OMG!!! I don’t follow that jerk so I never saw this.

    I told you guys not that long ago in one of the comment sections to these countless race articles that Spike Lee had a bug up his ass about Quentin Tarantino. This is nothing new. If I knew how to search on this site I would find it. I can’t stand him and his racist divisive garbage. He’s done more harm than good and he wishes he was the director that QT is.


  • Rg

    Tarantino for the win!!! Some senators and CIA didn’t like zero dark thirty..but who cares they’re one of the best films of the year.

  • Jeremy C.

    There have been social critiques and/or complaints about the depiction of African Americans in Precious, The Help, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Lincoln and now Django Unchained. It sure generates some interesting discussion and is an important conversation to have.

  • Curtis

    Django is looking to be one of the years best reviewed films and also a big boxoffice hit based on tracking. Spike is just mad.

  • SallyinChicago

    IDT anyone on this board or Spike can say anything about Django until they have actually SEEN the movie. I’m reluctant to see it — I’ve seen Tarantino do these type of movies so many times before — but I’m going to see it anyway. BTW, the Guilt Trip was a pleasant little comedy and Barbra Streisand was magnificent.

  • Leeland

    Spike used to be a great filmmaker in the 90s but like Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood his movies have went downhill. QT however is still making great films. Last time I looked Django has an 87Bfca score an 80 Metacritic and 92 rotten tomatoes score. So who should I take advice from. Somebody who has not seen the film or critics who love the film.

  • PJ

    I don’t think Spike and QT like each other very much. His hatred for film that he hasn’t even seen runs much deeper then that. It started all the way back in 1997 according to this deadline article so him being against it is nothing new.

  • brace

    Spike Lee does not have to see Django Unchained to know what kind of movie it is.It’s a Tarantino movie. We all know its not going to be serious. That’s why I’m so looking forward to see it – because Tarantino’s movies are so much fun. Lee feels that it’s disrespectful and I guess he’s right!

  • Eric S.

    Is Tarantino exploring a deeply painful chapter in American history or exploiting it for entertainment value? I agree with Mr. Lee that American slavery was not a Spaghetti Western.

  • If Spike Lee is “playing the race card,” then why isn’t he condemning every film dealing with black issues?


  • The Dude

    This isn’t a cheap stunt to call attention for himself, oh no.

  • The Dude

    “If Spike Lee is “playing the race card,” then why isn’t he condemning every film dealing with black issues?


    Because if he attacks some independent film no one sees, it isn’t news. If he attacks the new Tarantino film, it is.

  • Nick K.

    I stopped taking Spike Lee seriously after he tweeted what he thought was the address of George Zimmerman, only for it to be the address of a completely unrelated elderly couple. You don’t wipe out racism by inciting mob violence, Mr. Lee. That makes you no better than the people you advocate against.

  • I am so tired of people saying a person doesn’t have to actually SEE a film to voice an opinion about it. YES, THEY DO for it to be a valid opinion. That’s the way it should be, anyway.

    In this case we don’t know if Lee saw the film. I will assume he has. Therefore he has every right to voice his objections. And I don’t think he’s playing any race card. That’s like saying Jews have no right to voice a negative opinion about LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL.

  • Derek 8-Track

    Nick K. ftw!

  • FrankieJ, he definitely hasn’t seen it. Nor will he, probably:

    “I cant speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it. I’m not seeing it. All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors, to see that film. That’s the only thing I’m gonna say”

  • To continue (should have added this to the above post)…

    He’s only speaking for himself there, but what he’s not saying (it seems) is that the film is disrespectful. He’s saying that for him to see the film would be disrespectful to his ancestors. I can understand how he feels that way, but if he feels that sheltering oneself from controversial treatments of controversial themes will be a sign of respect to his ancestors, he’s wrong.

    Anyway, he’s just bummed that nobody watched Bad 25.

  • Rich

    Spike Lee may feel this way, but it appears Samuel L Jackson, Jamie Foxx, and Kerry Washington didn’t, otherwise they wouldn’t have starred in the film.

  • FrankieJ

    Thanks for the clarification, Paddy.

  • Claire

    I don’t really agree with the idea that people can’t have valid feelings about a movie unless they see it first. I will probably never see The Help, not because I think no white person can ever tell the story of how blacks have been oppressed in America, but the idea of those oppressed black people being voiceless until a white person came along to tell their story, it rankles. I suppose the concept behind it is not really that implausible at all, but since I know there were narratives from former African slaves were being published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, I end up wishing one of those had been adapted into a big, popular, awards-winning movie instead of The Help (really looking forward to Twelve Years a Slave next year). The Help would’ve bothered me a lot less if it had been the story of the maids swapping their horror stories with each other, or if the young writer character had been the daughter of one of the maids, and she had conflicted feelings about her mother’s job, because it helped put her through college but she resented her mother being away so much raising someone else’s kids, and you could also brush on classism within the African-American community, but would either of those have become the sensation that The Help did? Probably not.

    Anyway, that’s all a whole different discussion from whether making a movie that takes a less sober approach to the subject of slavery, or seeing said movie, is disrespectful to the memory of slaves. From everything I’ve read about Django Unchained, it doesn’t shy away from the horrors of slavery, so I would say no. I can’t totally knock any kind of art that gets people in 2012-13 thinking/talking about America’s past with such a terrible institution.

  • Pete

    Making fun of Spike Lee is quite the pastime for you folks who are so “colorblind”. Just remember, if Tom Hooper gets a Best Director nod this year, he individually will have as many nominations as every African-American director in the entire history of film. So, yes, Spike Lee is always in the wrong about this stuff…

  • If Spike Lee is “playing the race card,” then why isn’t he condemning every film dealing with black issues?

    Because he always has issue with Quentin Tarantino and it’s always about race. Supposedly. He’s the one who makes it about that. If he was honest and just said something like ‘I don’t want to see Tarantino’s film because he makes me feel inferior and insignificant’ that’d be one thing. But why did he say he’s not going to see it? Because he said it’s disrespectful to his ancestors. I mean he could have meant his white ancestors, I suppose.

  • Pete

    Name another director that has white characters drop the N bomb as much as Tarantino.

  • …and that is Lee’s other super criticism. Why doesn’t Lee spend all his time going after rappers then? Oh right because, somehow he’s only the boss of QT.

  • Pete

    Took me all of fifteen seconds to find that you are full of shit Antionette. Google is our friend

  • I don’t appreciate the nastiness, Peet. I’m sorry I didn’t recall some articles from the free radical from 7 years ago. But you’re right. I was wrong. Spike Lee apparently thinks he’s the boss of everyone.

    But I’m not full of shit, sweetie. Spike Lee goes way back attacking Tarantino. You clearly know it goes back to the use of the N-word in his films. And I’m sure you know that there was a problem with SLJ because of it. Seems like Mr. Jackson made the right choice.

    But why don’t you explain to me, where this director has any business trying to direct other people’s movies? That seems to be what he would like to do. Why doesn’t he just make his own appropriate slave film? Why doesn’t he make his “answer to” Quentin’s films?

    Pete, you make me think of another Pete I couldn’t stand, Pete Sampras. Anyway, you’ve probably heard that in the game of tennis, some times there are bad calls from line judges. Some people argue but it doesn’t work. Pistol Pete never did. His answer was to serve an ace.

    So why can’t your boyfriend Spike do that? Why doesn’t Lee just go out and serve an ace? Make the all-time greatest film about black people ever. Probably because he’s the type to stand there and argue with the ref instead. So because he can’t make a film as great as Tarantino’s he’s just gonna whine about Tarantino’s.

    ftr, I saw half of “Bad 25”. It was nonsense. It was people, some you’ve barely heard of, talking about Michael Jackson in “Behind the Music” interview style.

  • Pj

    Pete, Scorsese won an Oscar for The Departed which featured the N bomb amongst a ton of other racial slurs.

  • Pete

    Antionette, the point you fuckwad is Spike Lee has spoken out on the things you assumed that he hadn’t because it’s a lot easier for nimrods like yourself to ignore the argument because you don’t like who raised it.

    PJ, just how many N bombs were actually dropped in the Departed

  • Pete

    Spike did make two of the greatest films about black people ever, Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X. Ever hear of them?

  • Iamthenewblack

    It’s funny how everybody is calling Spike Lee a racist when I challenge you to look at his filmography and see how many white actors he has directed and then compare that to some of the great white directors and how many non-white actors they have employed. This doesn’t prove that Spike is not racist but I think it a interesting point nonetheless. As far as Django, I respect Spikes opinion but I will see it. Also just because black actors are in it that doesn’t make the movie an honest depiction of slavery. I mean SLJ will be in any QT movie and maybe any movie for that matter, Foxx is a comedian, and Washington is looking to increase her profile.

  • Iamthenewblack

    @Pete Jungle Fever, Get on the Bus, and She’s Gotta Have it are not too shabby either.

  • Antionette, the point you fuckwad

    it’s a lot easier for nimrods like yourself

    It’s funny how everybody is calling Spike Lee a racist when I challenge you to look at his filmography and see how many white actors he has directed and then compare that to some of the great white directors and how many non-white actors they have employed. This doesn’t prove that Spike is not racist

  • Pj

    I did not know this was a who is more racist competition. Using the word once should be enough to get some people, like you, to take notice.

    Also judging by most comments here and around the web, it seems Lee is in more trouble for his dismissive comments then Tarantino is for making Django.

  • Tony

    Perhaps Mr. Lee would be better off spending his time with these REAL problems:
    (1) Black-on-black violence in America; and
    (2) Black-on-black genocide in Africa.

  • Pete


    In your opinion, should all white people be held responsible every time a white guy shoots up a mall or an elementary school? Perhaps instead of bagging on Mr. Lee’s take on a slavery movie, you ought to follow your own advice and start dealing with those “real” problems, eh what?

  • Pete


    It’s not an issue of counting the number of N words in Tarantino’s movies compared to other directors. His scripts are dripping in N words, often in ways that are utterly unnecessary to the plot (thinking of Eric Stoltz in Pulp Fiction as one such offender). Seeing Q rocking the Kangol during his current press tour does make me wonder if Lee’s original “honorary black man” insult back in the day has some truth behind it.

    Either way, Tarantino’s obsession with schlocky ultraviolence is much more of a turnoff to me, artistically, than the N bombs.

  • rufussondheim

    Jumping on Spike Lee for making a sincere comment and calling him a racist is far more indicative of your racism than Spike Lee’s.

    It’s his opinion and it appears he gave his opinion when asked. I personally find his opinion interesting and worth learning about since he comes at this from a perspective I do not. Whether I eventually agree or disagree with him is unimportant, what is important is that he’s given me something to think about, and perhaps I will learn something from evaluating the film from a different perspective other than my own.

  • steve50

    I re-watched Inglorious Basterds last night, and you have to admit that Tarantino is a brilliant absurdist. No, he is definitely not to everyone’s taste and it’s very easy to take issue with his style of presentation – if you go no further than the surface.

    Of course Lee (and anybody else) can question or even dislike the method, but QTs style and point of view is definitely cathartic and entertaining, almost like a political cartoon.

  • @rufus If you were talking to me, my opinion of Spike Lee is not based on one tweet. It’s based on 20 years of his comments. And if you want to call me a racist, you haven’t been paying attention. But by all means say whatever you need to accuse me of on twitter. I’m not going to hijack this thread. I was trying to stay off of it.

  • Pete, you need to ease up, alright?

    Only reason your abusive comments aren’t deleted is because Antoinette has chosen to staple them to your shirt so everybody can see that you’re crossing the line.

  • rufussondheim

    No, Antoinette, I am not referring to you specifically. Only you can decide if I am referring to you.

    What I am referring to are people who come to conclusions about Spike Lee and his philosophy on race based on this one quote, as if this quote covers the entire spectrum of ideas on the subject.

    I took two college courses that dealt specifically with race, one that dealt specifically on racial issues in American education, and another on how racial attitudes get taught to the next generation through society and culture.

    These were two of the most valuable classes I’ve ever taken, not because I learned anything specific, but mostly because they taught me to think critically about opinions and philosophies that were not my own. They taught me to observe, to listen, to process and to contribute, but not to judge. And from that I learned that while my experience is valid, so are the experiences of others, and that people will process cultural items differently based on their own experiences. And I learned how to process cultural items from perspectives that are not my own.

    If Spike Lee and I went to see Django Unchained tomorrow I’m sure we would disagree on lots of things. But if we were to sit down together and discuss what we saw and sincerely shared our opinions, not only would we learn about each other, but we’d learn about ourselves and what our shortcomings are. But also, we’d probably both get more out of Django Unchained than if we never discussed it with each other.

    I know this sounds like hokum and malarkey, but there is something real here. It’s about an openness to ideas and not closing oneself off to other ways of thinking. And that’s prety much all I’ve encounterd so far in this thread, people whose minds are made up, unwilling to learn from others.

    And it’s a shame.

  • AP

    Oh I love reading all of these white opinions and reactions full of vitriol to the opinion of one POC. Thank god for Claire’s comment being the saving grace of this post.

    this said it best: Jumping on Spike Lee for making a sincere comment and calling him a racist is far more indicative of your racism than Spike Lee’s.

    “It’s white America’s history, too.” yes but I’d be far more interested in a movie from the point of view of a POC made by a POC rather than a white man.

  • Uncle Jay

    And here comes Spike…as predicted!! This isn’t the first time he criticized QT, in ’97 he labeled “Jackie Brown” disrespectful for the overabundant use of the “N” word! It’s jealousy, and nothing more. Lee wishes he had 5% of the talent QT has.

    In the words of Clint Eastwood, Spike “should shut his face!”

    Does this mean Lee will tweet QT’s address soon?

  • Sallyin Chicago

    Anyway, he’s just bummed that nobody watched Bad 25.
    ^ Bad 25 hasn’t been released yet. It won’t be released until 2013.

    BTW, re Django, I just read that the n**ga word is used 100 times???? WTF???? I don’t know….maybe I’ll wait before I see it.

  • Tony

    My point was that it’s only a movie! It’s a work of fiction! It’s set in the past!
    Btw, Mr. Lee’s ancestors probably wouldn’t be too proud of some of HIS filmmaking choices.

  • Sally, Bad 25 has been released internationally on TV (including in the US) and also in cinemas in NY and LA.

  • Pete


    I’ll stand by my earlier observation that it is awfully easy for people to dismiss Lee’s observations about the movie industry anand race because it is easier to do so
    than actually admit the truth that Lee is right more often than he’s not.

    If a white director had made Malcolm X or Do the Right Thing, changing nothing in the presentation, it would have piled up boatloads of nominations.

    Hell, Stephen Daldry alone has more Best Director nods than all black
    Directors ever. But of course Lee is the problem here?

  • Hell, Stephen Daldry alone has more Best Director nods than all black
    Directors ever. But of course Lee is the problem here?

    Yes. Stephen Daldry, the Oscars… what do they have to do with what’s being discussed here?

  • ok

    sigh the comment section can be summed up with this…

  • Sammy

    I would love to see Django winning BP and Tarantino getting the BD.

  • Pete


    Daldry is relevant. Oscar represents supposedly the very best of artistic achievement in the movie industry. Frankly, it doesn’t take too much brainpower to see that black people in the in the industry are basically shut out of the highest accolades. It’s not too much of a stretch to point out that this exclusionary pattern trickles down to who gets that directing or screenwriting gig, or technical assignment. It’s not inaccurate to point out how black people or black subjects are marginalized even in movies supposedly telling their stories (hello, Blind Side)

    Lee has been brave enough to point this out for years, and has been utterly crucified for it. Rather than address the issue or even try to prove him wrong, benighted souls on blogs like this simply scream “race card” or make equally irrelevant comments about hip hop music.

    If you think that Lee is the only African American in the industry with those opinions you are sorely mistaken

  • rufussondheim
  • rufussondheim
  • Corvo

    If you wanna know what slavery really was, wait for 12 YEARS A SLAVE by Steve McQueen. If you just wanna have fun, go watch Tarantino.

  • Bud

    If Tarantino had put this film out as an accurate depiction of slavery then Lee would have had a point. But Django Unchained is not that type of film so his comments are off the mark. If Spike Lee wants to make that film then he should do it. But based on his recent track record he is better at attacking other directors than making a decent film himself.

  • Dr. Strangelove

    Pete’s right, mostly: Lee is right to feel black filmmakers are marginalized and point it out unwaveringly. I also find it bizarre to call Lee a racist. (He’s most certainly an egomaniac, though.) That being said, I don’t see the issue with a cathartic slave’s revenge/historical revisionist film from a white man obsessed with and sympathetic towards African-American culture. Would it be better if more films about black people and the black experience were directed by black filmmakers? Sure. But this is not Tarantino’s fault and it’d be absurd to berate him for doing so. Tarantino’s not Jewish and I’d find it odd to consider Inglourious Basterds “insulting” to the Holocaust.

  • superkk

    i cant wait to see spike lees RACIST movie: OLDBOY. starring ELIZABETH OLSEN AND JOSH BROLIN. gonna be a hell of a time!=P

  • Totes

    Lee is not a racist.

    He is just an Internet troll.

  • TOM

    Waiting on the edge of my seat for his review of Lincoln. I did hear his n word 4 times, so start badmouthing Spielberg. When is he going to pronounce a mass boycott of LesMis for not featuring black actors in the leading roles?

  • Aperture

    In my opinion, Lee needs to see the movie before he judges it. Also, let’s not cap the first letter in each word when you tweet. Makes you look like a dumbass, Mr. Lee.

    Let us not forget, that use of N*gger is historically common, whether you like it or not. I certainty wouldn’t use such a word nowadays, but you can’t make a film about slavery and not say ‘n*gger’ It would take away the impact of such a heinous time period.

  • Neil

    Tbh, Spike has a massive chip on his shoulder.

    I’ve only seen a few of his films, but 99% of the actors seem to be black. The 1% white are usually the bad guys.

    Kind of gets annoying.

    Imagine if Tarantino made a movie like that!

    There are other more viable targets. The film about the Asian Tsunami ‘The Impossible’ for example. Several hundred foreign tourists died, but hundreds of thousands of Asians died.

    The movie (based on a true story) focused on a wealthy white, British (Spanish in the real story) family on holiday in Thailand.


    None of them die. They just get split up for a few hours and suffer some nasty injuries. The movie pretty much ends with an insurance dude telling the family, ”Don’t worry, we’ll get you off to the best hospital around in have great insurance cover” or something like that.

    What about the thousands of locals FFS!

    I thought that movie was insensitive, as it’s a bit like doing a movie about Hiroshima and saying how bad the emotional effects were on other nations!

    Spike doesn’t say anything of course, as it’s not about Black people.

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