Hey Spike Lee (And Others), Is It Really Fair To Judge And Slam A Movie You Haven’t Seen?

29 comments
December 24, 2012 ‐ By Clarke Gail Baines

django unchained

So who is trying to see Django Unchained tomorrow?

With all the media hype surrounding the film, the good reviews, the Golden Globe nominations, and the talk of sold-out shows, we can assume that the answer is “a lot of people.” But someone that we now know will not be down for Django whatsoever is Spike Lee. In an interview with VIBETV, when the famed director was asked about his opinions of Django Unchained and if he planned to see the film, he was pretty emphatic in his no, saying, “I cant speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it. All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors. That’s just me…I’m not speaking on behalf of anybody else.”

Spike isn’t the first person to say something like this. FOR MONTHS, I’m talking, early in the year before the damn movie was midway into production, a lot of folks were crying foul, saying that Tarantino would try and make light of an extremely dark and ugly time in history that has affected so many. He had done something similar before in a positive (yet still uber-violent) way to pretty great reviews and an Academy Award win, when he released Inglourious Basterds. The movie was also a fictional revenge tale, but was centered around Jewish people from different backgrounds plotting to take out Hitler and Nazi leadership. Some of the reservations about Django I could understand. Let’s keep it real, Quentin doesn’t really keep things PG, and I know many people were and are still worried about images in the film, including a possible rape scene, being too graphic and uncomfortable for the sake of “art,” as well as use of the N-word in the dialogue. As someone who has seen all of his movies, I can understand why someone would be a bit worried. But there’s a difference between being worried about a movie, and trying to pan it when it hasn’t even come out yet. When you flat out condemn the movie, say that it’s another “Here Comes The White Man To Save The Day” type of work, or say something in the same vein as Spike’s comments, I always think to myself: How can you judge something so meticulously that you haven’t seen?

Seriously, that’s like someone saying they don’t want to meet and get to know you because people in your family have a personality that rubs them the wrong way. How can you assume something negative about someone you haven’t met? There’s something about people continuously saying the movie will be this and will be that and that equals why they won’t see it that comes off extremely close-minded. Can we all just keep it really real? If the storyline isn’t your cup of tea, then it’s totally okay to say that is why you don’t want to see it. If you’re not a fan of Quentin Tarantino movies, then you can say that is the reason you don’t want to see the movie or even be bothered with talking about it. But to discredit and make assumptions about the work, and the work of the fine actors in the film, just seems really unfair, and as a controversial director in his own right, I would have assumed that Spike Lee would understand why it’s not cool.

I’m a big fan of the movies of both of these men, and yes, they live for controversy because they like to think outside the box. This type of thinking has garnered them both a following, but also many critics. If I say there’s a new Spike Lee Joint coming out, a lot of people will roll their eyes because they don’t like Spike. They’ll assume it’s anti-white or something outrageous because they might not have understood where a classic movie like Do The Right Thing was coming from, or because they don’t like him as a person based on things they had seen or read. But to say a new movie of his, say a Red Hook Summer, is trash because of certain controversial scenes involving child abuse that you HEARD about, doesn’t make sense right? But people did it, and allowed that to overshadow the whole rest of the movie’s accomplishments. I’m sure Spike didn’t appreciate that.

As many people out there who close their minds to the great work Spike does because he makes some out-of-pocket comments from time to time, does some very different stuff in his moves and does some questionable things in everyday life, I wouldn’t think he would shut down a movie he hadn’t seen based purely on his assumptions about it. But then again, it seems he has more of a beef with Quentin than he really does his movies, as he clearly doesn’t like the director trying to tell black stories on-screen and the way he goes about doing so with the N-word (see his critiques of Tarantino’s film, Jackie Brown).

I’m not defending Tarantino, because, real talk, this movie could be a total failure and could rub a lot of people, including myself, the wrong way. And hey, it wouldn’t be the first time someone thought they were doing something epic that actually turned out to be a hot a** mess. But I would rather see the film and come to such a conclusion that it is or isn’t a mess, than to automatically assume it will be a hot a** mess and tell the whole world on camera, in a story, or in a comment section (no shade, I’m just saying). You don’t have to support mainstream directors trying their hand at stories of slavery and the struggle of black folks. (i.e., The HelpTwelve Years A Slave, The Butler, etc. Though the latter are directed by black men, clearly a lot of people don’t like that these are the stories people in Hollywood consistently want to work with) But before you question why someone gets an Academy Award nomination for such work, or pass judgment on the film, or throw shade at it for being loved by others, it would be nice if you actually had something to base your opinion on…you know, like actually having seen the movie and what not. But hey, to each their own.

 

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  • Dcarter910

    For your info, this movie was NOT about black inferiority! This movie made it clear that the black man is the hero. Jamie Foxx had those white folks soiling their underwear and check this out…he did it all to save his black wife! What???????? A movie where a black man kills scores of white people, out smarting white people and to save his beautiful black wife?

    P.S. Imagine a movie where white people are applauding a black man that is whipping and shooting white people? Cant image that huh? Well open up your all too closed mind and see the movie and then pause and look around at the faces of white people in the room…yeah it REAL!

    My question is, why N-D He’LL is there not a black director making movies like this?p

  • Dcarter910

    For your info, this movie was NOT about black inferiority! This movie made it clear that the black man is the hero. Jamie Foxx had those white folks soiling their underwear and check this out…he did it all to save his black wife! What???????? A movie where a black man kills scores of white people, out smarting white people and to save his beautiful black wife?

    P.S. Imagine a movie where white people are applauding a black man that is whipping and shooting white people? Cant image that huh? Well open up your all too closed mind and see the movie and then pause and look around at the faces of white people in the room…yeah it REAL!

    My question is, why N-D He’LL is there not a black director making movies like this?p

  • Hello There

    The issue should not be solely about Spike Lee’s point of view on this movie. Black americans should demand to see movies that depict them in ways other than, prostitutes, maids, slaves, pimps, deadbeat parents and uneducated etc. We should demand this not only from mainstream Hollywood, but also from the people who can actually make these changes like Tyler Perry and Spike to name a few. At the end of the day, we cannot expect fairer treatment from mainstream America than what we give to ourselves. If we accept negative depictions from ourselves via music, movies, and television than why do we get so angry when mainstream media does it?

  • starry118

    He wasn’t saying it was disrespectful because of the violence or that a White man was doing the film…it was because of the way it is being done. Millions of Blacks lost their lives (literally & figuratively) as the result of slavery. It was horrific, inhumane, and is something that mainstream America does not want to revisit/discuss unless it’s done in a manner that is palatable to them. What would be more palatable? Well, I’d say that a Blaxploitation/Western/Comedy would give it a smoother…ahem, “different” spin.

    Mainstream Media/Critics: *Applause* *Applause* for Quentin Tarantino! Django is a refreshing look at a truly depressing/unsavory topic. Surely awards will be won for this effort!

  • http://twitter.com/JA_beautyblog jamaicanbeautyblog

    I agree with you 100% Diveta. We have yet to deal with slavery and this is the problem. The Jews are represented in hundreds of movies about the holocaust you would be pressed to find that many movies on American Slavery. Tarantino made an revenge fantasy for the Jewish community called Inglorious Bastards,no complaints. But now we want to romanticize the brutal experience of slavery ? Give me a break there is a generation of young people who might not know a thing about slavery so this might open up a dialogue or at least make them research it. Its the ignoring of it which has caused us all the pain that many people are going through to this day, racism, self esteem etc. Let it go . Spike Lee might be a little bitter but I bet he will watch that movie one day . I think we can handle a revenge fantasy movie . I wonder if overall due to racism in America are we afraid to see black men take revenge in their own hands against white people interesting? This will at least open up some discussions

    • starry118

      There have a been many films done on slavery, just not
      wide-release/mainstream. Steve McQueen has one coming out next year that
      will probably be more historically accurate. Films on
      slavery are listed by country here: ama.africatoday com/films.htm.

    • http://www.facebook.com/nobodyschild99 Nobodyschild Sara

      absolutely agreed…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3L5JYDI6EJVXVS4GAT7GBLRRAU Gary Penton

    There is a sad history with Mr. Lee’s racist ideology.

    He has accused Clint Eastwood of being racist because there were no black stars in Eastwood’s movie, “Flags of our Fathers”, a portrayal of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. If Lee had even ‘tried’ to check his words, a quick look at the actual story of Iwo Jima would have allowed him the knowledge that “there were no black people” at the raising of the flag! There were 5 white and 1 Native American heroes, and “They” were the story. Was Eastwood to create a new black character and name him Ashton?

    What should truly embarrass Lee for attacking an icon like Clint Eastwood, is that he never even considered looking at Eastwood’s filmography where he would have found that one of Eastwood’s crowning achievements was the film, “Bird”, a film that he wrote and directed as a tribute to the life and music of black jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker. [Ironically, Charlie Bird named white guitarist "Django" Reinhardt as his main musical influence].

    It doesn’t end there for the diminutive race-monger. When he took the stage after the world premiere of his new film “Red Hook Summer”at the Sundance Film Festival, he embarked on rants against the whiteness of Utah to the supremacy of the New York Giants.

    The heartbreaking result of his random attacks is that many black people have never seen these important films to know the truth. To many of them now, Clint Eastwood is a racist. This little man needs big help.

  • cleva

    Meh. Spike, where is your protest of this Nina Simone movie. Spike Lee’s take on women in his movies is questionable so he needs to watch the stones he throws. Spike is upset because he can’t get $$ for his movies as other directors do. We he sees QT or even Tyler make movies, I think he sees it as his missed opportunity. He continues to mess up his own legacy. From what I do keep hearing about this movie, is that its hard to watch, the n-word is said over 100 times, and that its very violent. QT wasn’t trying to do a nice take on slavery but a revengeful one. Don’t know if that’s good or bad because I haven’t seen it. :)

    • starry118

      Spike was asked his opinion about Django, not the Nina Simone movie.

  • cleva

    Why is this only about black women? Where was Spike when this Nina Simone issue came up? The issue is that some black people have PSTD and anytime they see any thing that reminds them of a harder time they trip. Black women were maids, black people were slaves, there are black men were homeless. The are PEOPLE first and what they did or were made to do was second. Those people deserve to have stories told. Now, is this the story? I don’t know but we have to start seeing people who had to do these things in a better light because many did overcome and survived. So you need to check your rearview mirror and look at how you view your ancestors.

  • DoinMe

    One thing I like about some people is that when they get older, they say what the h3ll they want to and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks. I think Spike Lee has paid his dues and has a right to speak out.

    In saying that, I believe I read in a news article that Spike saw the script to the movie awhile ago when Quentin was floating the idea around and he wasn’t impressed then. Even Katt Williams said he saw the script and said he doesn’t support it.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    Come on Spike Lee, you love criticizing other people’s movies but when someone says something about yours, it’s like nobody understands you, and your movies are the end all be all. Stop the madness please. . .

  • starry118

    As long as we go to support revisionist history like this, it will
    continue to be made. White America barely wants to acknowledge slavery
    and its significance, but now “let’s make a version of it so we’re not
    so offended by it, and make one of the slaves a ‘hero’ so Blacks will be
    appeased.” SMH

    Oh, and Kerry’s character gets raped 3x in the film…Merry Christmas!

  • starry118

    The script has been out for awhile…it’s highly likely that he’s read it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002932566023 Kristene Crawley

    He voiced his opinion as I’ve voiced mine several times on this same topic. Can we please move on to another topic now? Why are you making such a big deal out of it as if you have an investment in Tarrentino and his movies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.walker.5264 George Walker

    Spike, give it up, your views are completely skewed. Like “Do The Right Thing” and “She’s Gotta Have It” had any socially redeeming qualities. Mookie, you, playing a lowlife brotha who can’t even deliver a pizza on time because he needs to get laid. You embarass me, you embarass yourself. Spike, You should keep quiet, because it is better to be thought a fool, than to speak up and remove all doubt!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pater.tempus Pater Tempus

    MN’s point totally went over your head, didn’t it? Pretending slavery never happened is not going to change history. If you don’t want to see the film, fine….that’s your choice, but don’t criticize others for making a different choice. Let Django Unchained be judged up or down on its own merits after being given a fair chance ….just as you would expect to be.

    • get real

      You (and other blk folk like u)don’t know any better so I forgive you.

  • Kermit

    Spike Lee is so yesterday.

    • tessie

      That is the reason he is bitter!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002199770211 Yolinda Carroll

    I Am Tired Of Slavery Movies. I Will Never Go See This Movie.

    • chanela

      me too! they never make any movies about good things that happen in black people’s lives. they act like black history began with slavery. smh they still refuse to put black folks in a movie about egypt… even though egypt is in africa and there were blacks there. smh

    • Dcarter910

      Then you perpetuate the ignorance so rampant in the black community. You know why it was so easy to keep 300 slaves under 3 white people? Because simple rumors about what horrible things awaited on the other side of the horizon. Rumors kept Knee-Grows in check. If you actually went to go see the movie. You would cheer as the black man (Jamie Foxx) is clearly a black man that scares the ish out of white folks. You will see a black man fight for black love. And you will see a movie that I wish…WISH a black director would have the balls to make. Tyler Perry, man hat’n coonery, Spike Lee…just plain coonery at it’s best. It took a white man to tale the tale of a black hero that even as he kills LOTS of white people…white people still applauded and enjoyed it. Imagine that…white people cheering for a black man killing white people! Imaging that and then go to the movies and see it in person.

    • Dcarter910

      Then you perpetuate the ignorance so rampant in the black community. You know why it was so easy to keep 300 slaves under 3 white people? Because simple rumors about what horrible things awaited on the other side of the horizon. Rumors kept Knee-Grows in check. If you actually went to go see the movie. You would cheer as the black man (Jamie Foxx) is clearly a black man that scares the ish out of white folks. You will see a black man fight for black love. And you will see a movie that I wish…WISH a black director would have the balls to make. Tyler Perry, man hat’n coonery, Spike Lee…just plain coonery at it’s best. It took a white man to tale the tale of a black hero that even as he kills LOTS of white people…white people still applauded and enjoyed it. Imagine that…white people cheering for a black man killing white people! Imaging that and then go to the movies and see it in person.

  • MsWright2U

    I agree, both are talented directors. If I have faith in any director, it would be Tarantino. The dialogue is equally as impactful as what images you seen on screen, few auteurs have accomplished this.

    Lee seems to have a problem with the ownership of images and stories. Yes, this is our history and our images, but why can’t we talk about it in a different way? I’m hopeful that Tarantino will turn that story on its ear in a good way (but of course, I’ll have to see the movie to find out).

    Sidebar: Does it bother anyone else that Zoe Saldana and Lenny Kravitz (both phenomenal actors) are getting all types of shade for their depictions when the movies are not even completed.

  • Just saying!!

    Thank you!!

  • http://twitter.com/v89doo_child Wee Bey Brice

    Spike Lee seems bitter these days….i wonder why

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

    When making a movie about black plight i.e the help or django. It’s bound to ruffle a few black feathers. Spike Lee should make his own movie if he feels so strongly. I mean compared to the people complaining on a blog, he would be in the best position, to actually do something. I will see this movie because not only does it highlight black love but it shows us getting revenge and killing all the racist white people. How great is that? Lol. I mean we all know how it really happened. But it’s hollywood, with a white director at that. Don’t expect too much.

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