Spike Lee: Django Unchained ‘Disrespectful’ Without Viewing

Spike Lee: Django Unchained ‘Disrespectful’ Without Viewing
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He may not have seen it, but the film director Spike Lee already has an opinion about “Django Unchained.” In a recent interview with Vibe, he said he would not watch Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, set in the antebellum South, which opened in theaters on Tuesday. “I can’t speak on it ’cause I’m not gonna see it,” he said. “The only thing I can say is it’s disrespectful to my ancestors, to see that film.”

Over the weekend, Mr. Lee, whose most recent film, “Red Hook Summer,” deals with race and class in that Brooklyn neighborhood, took to Twitter to express some more opinions. “American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them.”

His statement inspired a lively debate, which Mr. Lee engaged in, weighing in and retweeting commenters on Saturday evening. He has taken issue with Mr. Tarantino’s work before, particularly his use of a racial epithet. “Django” includes at least 100 instances of the slur.

In another interview with Vibe, Jamie Foxx, who plays Django, said Mr. Lee told him at the BET Awards in September that he would not speak out about the film. “You know Spike, he’ll let you have it whether it’s good, bad or ugly,” Mr. Foxx told the magazine. “And he said, ‘I’m not going to say anything bad about this film. It looks like y’all are getting it.’ ”

  1. In the last week I’ve kept my eye on black media outlets hoping to find critical reviews with some depth. Nothing very interesting yet. I’m sure academics are writing papers.

    I know that a lot of white people feel ill equipped to judge the cultural sensitivity of the film. I’m certainly waiting for someone to clue me into why Spike Lee might know something I don’t.

    But the generality of Lee’s statement seems telling. He’s turning people away from the movie but unwilling to offer a reason. That lack of transparency suggests that he’s dancing around a touchy subject, which slavery certainly is.

    Then I looked and found that Roger Ebert had declined to review the movie. People don’t want to talk about this. Fox got in a few punches below the belt, and there is a general buzz about the controversy itself, but this is one of the biggest movies of the year and no one seems able to talk about it.

    Tarantino did what he does best. Make truly American movies. Movies that emerge from and showcase our hypocrisy, brutality, idiocy, and narcissism. If you don’t like what America really is, you might be disturbed.

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