Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Interview Spike Lee: "I wasn't the one that put blackface on Judy Garland."
It has been 20 years since the release of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. So for the occasion Spike Lee was interviewed by Jason Solomons of the Guardian. In the interview Lee talks about Do The Right Thing, other films and Obama.
In the interview he also talks about a film which is very relevant today. It's the blackface film Bamboozled, a satirical film about a modern televised minstrel show featuring black actors donning blackface makeup and the violent fall-out from the show's success. The film - of course - is relevant because of the recent Vogue issue and the blackface Australian performance of the Jackson Five. In the interview Jason Solomons said that some people found this film a very angry film, Lee replied, "I wasn't the one who put blackface on Judy Garland."
On YouTube I found the video montage of the black face shots used in the film Bamboozled. You sometimes wonder how people can use black face and call it 'artistic'. (See all videos below.)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
Lee: Do The Right Thing takes place in hottest day of the summer. We wanted the people to be sweating while they watched this film.
Fight the power (theme song)
Lee: I knew I wanted an anthem, so I called Chuck D and he came back with this classic. It's really the theme at that time of young black America. In 1989 Fight the power was the only song you heard that summer.
The Toy (1982)
Interviewer: Back in 89 black filmmakers were struggling to be heard. Black actors were struggling to get out of ghetto parts.
Lee: A very important individual, people don't really acknowledge, is Michael Schultz. He was our only African American director in Hollywood at that time. He made a lot of hit films of Richard Prior. Prior was a big star in Hollywood.
Interviewer: They had to had to give him a white buddy, Gene Wilder.
Lee: “The worst was the film The Toy (1982), where he was bought by rich white man as a toy for his child.
Soul Plane (2000)
Interviewer: Do you think, that because of Do The Right Thing, that kind of film will ...
Lee: Hé hé, they still make some of this stuff. You ever heard of a film called Soul Plane?
Malcolm X (1992)
Lee on Malcom X: This is biggest run I've done so far. People said, don't mess it up.
Interviewer: One of my favourites is Bamboozled (2000). One of the least seen, one of the most angry.
Lee: One of my favourite films too, very funny film.
Interviewer: Black film makers, black activist say it comes a big angry.
Lee: I don’t know it was angry. I wasn't the one who put blackface on Judy Garland, Mickey Roony and Bugs Buny.
(The film below is a video montage of the blackface shots used in the film Bamboozled)
You sometimes wonder how people can use black face and call it artistic.
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Interviewer: The film Do The Right Thing has shaped the politics of Obama.
Lee: Well I don't know if it has shaped his politics. People forget that the best film in 1989, according to the academy, was Driving miss Daisy. A film no one has seen, no one is watching that today.
La Hain (1995) - The Hait
Lee: The one film I have issue with is La Hain (1995). That film was a complete rip off of Do The Right Thing. The director Mathieu Kassovitz has never acknowledged it. He said he never saw it. When you see Do The Right Thing, it's an homage.
Quote of the film. In the film the white boss says to the black screen writer: “I grew up around black people my whole life, the truth is know N*gers more then you. And don't go getting offended by me using the word N***. I have a black wife and two Bi-racial kids so I feel I have the right.”