ESC

Spike Lee fights back

Spike Lee

What started as a simple remark to promote Spike Lee’s new WWII movie, Miracle at St. Anna, has turned into an even better promotion. Today, Spike Lee gave his response to Clint Eastwood’s suggestion that he should “shut his face.” Spike tells ABC News:

“First of all, the man is not my father and we’re not on a plantation either. He’s a great director. He makes his films, I make my films. The thing about it though, I didn’t personally attack him. And a comment like ‘a guy like that should shut his face’ — come on Clint, come on. He sounds like an angry old man right there.”

“If he wishes, I could assemble African-American men who fought at Iwo Jima and I’d like him to tell these guys that what they did was insignificant and they did not exist,” he said. “I’m not making this up. I know history. I’m a student of history. And I know the history of Hollywood and its omission of the one million African-American men and women who contributed to World War II.”

Then again, maybe Clint Eastwood misinterpreted his comments.

“I never said he should show one of the other guys holding up the flag as black. I said that African-Americans played a significant part in Iwo Jima,” he said. “For him to insinuate that I’m rewriting history and have one of the four guys with the flag be black … no one said that. It’s just that there’s not one black in either film. And because I know my history, that’s why I made that observation.”

They should just hug and get it over with. Maybe even give each other a fist pound. After all, fist pounding is the new hugging. They can even be cutesy about it. You know how sometimes you see young kids try to teach old white men urban handshakes, but the old guy messes up and they both laugh resulting in sort of shared “moment”? Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood should do that.

[Spike Lee at Cannes 2008. Image via Splash News]

  • Ben

    Maybe Robert Downey Jr. is in there somewhere playing a black guy. :P

    Anyways I think Clint Eastwood is misinterpreting his question on purpose, because that’s the only way to respond without looking like an ass.

  • Of course Clint doesn’t want to own up to the fact that blacks are invisible in his movie. It is a non issue for him. In every movie that he has ever seen or acted in he has seen his race POSITIVELY represented, it comes with white privilege. Spike makes an important point and it is something that more Hollywood directors should take into consideration. Racism can be performed by omission and blacks are not blind to this fact.

  • SheLaffs

    Wow, Renee…well said. And Ben, I agree. It’s sad that this is a truth in today’s America… in today’s world…

  • Are there ever any white people in Spike Lee’s movies who aren’t idiots or racists?

  • Mark

    You ever notice that every time Spike Lee is in the news it has something to do with racism? I think he is just jealous. Clint Eastwood had Morgan Freeman as a top supporting actor in Academy Award winning “Unforgiven”. I don’t think I have ever heard anybody say “I didn’t like that movie (any movie) because it had to many blacks in it” Sometimes I wonder who the racist is in situations like this.

  • Kay

    Mark, you are behind the times, when I was a child in the 60’s we “African Americans” have always noticed that African Americans were NOT equally represented in movies, it was “racist” not to include African Americans especially in historical movies, educational books, documentaries etc. Spike Lee is just in a position that eveyone can finally hear what we have all been saying for years and then do something about it!

  • Mark

    Kay, I’m behind the times? You are talking about almost 50 years ago. And what is Spike Lee doing about it? Giving your opinion that somebody else is racist, in a round about way is not constructive in my opinion. Maybe Spike should make a movie on how Condoleezza Rice or Collin Powell got to where they did. Now that would be constructive.

  • Chris

    The issue has never been race – the issue always has and always will be between good and bad – and there are both in every race and creed.

  • homey

    Why hasn’t Spike had Reggie Miller in any of his movies?

  • Marco

    The movie was about the flagraisers of Iwo Jima. There weren’t any blacks there. Evidently Spike isn’t to bright or doesn’t know his history.

  • Paul Naranjo

    I was also a child of the 60s and I too am a minority. The thing is that you need to get over your self pity about your race. To borrow a phrase from the great movie and actor Sidney Poitier “Guess who’s comming to dinner”.

    You look at yourself as a colored man, I look at myself as a man.

    Move on…

  • Mark

    So Spike knows history huh. If he did he would know there were 6 involved in the flag raising , not 4. Five Marines and a Navy Corpsman. The movie was about the taking of Mount Suribachi and the history around the flag raising. The black troops on the island were in a completely different area and not involved in that action.

  • societal indifference

    While I agree that blacks have been overlooked in movies so have jews, american indians, and every other ethic group – it’s part of life. But I also believe that enough already. Everytime something happens it seems there is a non-caucasian person waiting to pounce.
    Blacks do not have to be in every blessed thing that is created. I mean do we have white women in the Miss Black America Pageant? Do whites get scholarships from NAACP?
    There are plenty of whites overlooked also. And not one of us was alive when blacks were enslaved! A black man sold his people for gold that most still wear dripping from their fingers and necks – so who is really perpetuating the whole idea of insignificance? If it were not the “African Americans” they’d boycott gold jewlery don’t you think?
    I am mixed and a black is not part of my everday life – there are weeks I go without contact with a black person – not my fault – not theirs either – I just am not in that situation so should I go look for one daily?

  • Lisa

    Why am i not surprised people are taking this out of proportion again, like always. It’s old! As Maro said It’s about the flagraisers of Iwo Jima. Come on Spike Lee knew what he was doing bye even raising the question at all and putting it out there. Race again! Come on! People are not stupid! Here we go again! It’s so old! By the way Eastwoods reaction was far from an angry old man! I do think though, he should have not even reacted at all! He should have known it was coming. If an african american was not raising the flag then he wasn’t. It should not take away at all from what they have done…

  • JAM

    Renee, Clint doesn’t have to “own up” to the fact of blacks being invisible in his movie as if he were suppose to be aware of the need for an excuse. It was his full intention to make the movie the way he did with no ulterior motives for ommiting blacks. And the assertion that “his” race (which I believe to be the human race), in every movie he’s ever acted in is POSITITIVELY represented is as ignorant as it is totally and ridiculously baseless. Anybody familiar with the canon of Clint Eastwood movies knows better.

    I disagree with this article refering to Spike’s comment as a “simple” remark. I believe he’s feigning ignorance when he says he didn’t personally attack him. He may not of wanted to appear direct but it obviously was.

    Kay, your behind the times. Your comments would’ve made more sense 30 years ago. Times have changed and continue to change albeit gradually. Don’t be stuck in the past. Spike certainly seems to be.

  • once again

    Once again we see the point of view of white america and black america, then say we are the human race. Well, in being just one race the human race, everyone should be consider when making a movie on history or any other type for that matter. In order for the one race (Amercia) to move forward is to acknowledge the bias that still is present and stand up together against it, oppose to making excuses for neglect.
    We can all get along, with God first.

  • N JAY GOLD

    SPIKE LEE IS ONE OF THE TOP 5 RACIST IN AMERICA. WHY SHOULD WE BE SURPISED BY THE FILTH THAT COMES OUT OF HIS MOUTH. KUDOS TO CLINT. IF HE DOES A MOVIE ABOUT MANDELLA ……….. HE SAYS “I MAY HAVE TWO WHITE PEOPLE IN IT”.

  • N JAY GOLD

    WHY SIDE WITH A RACIST?

  • T J

    Jay:

    You are clearly the “RACIST” just by your comment here. Everytime an African-American points out things in history (that most White Americans are embarassed about and don’t want to own up to), you call them racist. The fact of the matter is that African-American men have fought and been involved throughout the years in certain battles. Just look at the Tuskegee Airmen. Or do you even know who these men are and their contributions? Unfortunately, most people (including African-Americans) would have never known about this brave men – and did not find out about who they were until a movie was done about their accomplishments. (If real history was taught in school – White, Black, Asian, etc., people would know about these things.)

    But what’s so sad is that it still shows how (some) White Americans always want to play the ‘race card’ when are there are things that they do not wish to deal with.

  • N JAY GOLD

    I RECENTLY TALKED WITH A YOUNG MAN WITH A FAMILY WORKING IN THE U.S. A RECENT ARRIVAL FROM AFRICA. HE WORKS HARD, LOVES IT HERE IS APPRECIATIVE AND APPRECIATED. HE HAS NO PROBLEM LETTING PEOPLE KNOW. THE AFRICAN AMERICAN SHOULD THINK ABOUT THE ALTERNATIVE IF AN EARLIER GENERATION HADN’T SUFFERED FOR THEM. WE ALL HAVE TO BE THANKFUL FOR OUR OPPORTUNITIES AND THE GENERATION OR GENERATIONS BEFORE US THAT DIDN’T HAVE IT SO GOOD. MAYBE ONE DAY WE MAY ALSO GET A GOV’T FOR THE PEOPLE AGAIN.

  • T J

    Lisa:

    Talking about taking things out of proportion … that’s exactly what you are doing here. All of you are misinterpreting Spike’s comments. He did not say have a Black person raising the flag (because that would be a deviation from real history). What he is saying is that “Clint should have shown and represented all persons who fought at Iwo Jima, not just White people” because that is not true and totally inaccurate.

    You just as others on concentrating on the raising of the flag and not the real issue at hand: All persons and nationalities who fought at Iwo Jima should have been depicted in the film. PERIOD!!!!

  • T J

    Hey Paul:

    Maybe Spike Lee and all other Black men will see themselves as MEN when America treats them as such!!!

  • eleanor

    World out, including Spike Lee: It’s a film and each one of you has the power to do with films as you wish. If I want to know about history I go to the text books. Because no matter how accurate you try to be. There will always be an opinion. We’re just human. This includes the Bible. I read it for myself and get from it what I need. So quit the back and forth garbage. It’s about entertainment. Just intertain me and allow me to make up my own mind. Thanks for allowing me to sound off.

    By the way I love Clint Eastwood Movies, they rock!

  • BarbinAtl

    Read Spike’s response.

    “I never said he should show one of the other guys holding up the flag as black. I said that African-Americans played a significant part in Iwo Jima,” he said. “For him to insinuate that I’m rewriting history and have one of the four guys with the flag be black … no one said that. It’s just that there’s not one black in either film. And because I know my history, that’s why I made that observation.”

    An observation deserves someone saying “shut your face”?

    Why is it when black folks merely ask questions, we are accused of playing the race card? Ugh. It’s so frustrating.

  • Well, let’s see, this started out as nothing more than a publicity stunt by Spike Lee to promote his movie.

    Of course, there were black americans in the war. And, of course, they made their contribution. No one disputes that even by their ‘omission’ from a movie.

    The real crime here is Spike Lee’s use of their contribution to call attention to his movie. He wasn’t motivated to make this comment publicly when Clint’s movies came out. Instead, he makes it when his movie is coming out.

    This pure use of their race and contribution to increase attention for his movie is far worse than any unintended omission by Clint.

    The common sense thing to do here is to acknowledge the contribution of each person that served in WWII no matter their race. And then ignore this and other ‘made-up’ contrivances that Hollywood and the press use to get our attention (and our money).

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