Spike Lee is a movie icon. Iconic in a way that is somewhat surreal. Although, some people tend to dismiss Lee as an angry old man at times, his contribution to the advancement of black folks in movies is undeniable. Behind the lens is where Lee receives much of his notoriety, although he has made appearances in several of his movies. The name of his film company is 40 Acres and a Mule, which alludes to America’s age old promise for the former enslaved black farmers, is exemplary of the initial focus of Lee’s intentions. To get what we deserve.
She’s Gotta Have It
In Hollywood, black filmmakers, writers and actors alike have been struggling to get what is deserved for so long that it doesn’t seem conceivable. However brightly the sky appears to be now, it is worth noting that we are still steps behind. This was a daunting reality for a young Lee whose debut introduction into the film world was a low-budget film entitled “She’s Gotta Have It.” Some 31 years later, Lee reintroduces Nola Darling, the main character of She’s Gotta Have It, in a new Netflix series based off of his film. It was not until I watched this Netflix production of the same movie over three decades ago, that I truly recognized the genius in the mind of a young Spike Lee. A woman dealing with her sexuality is seemingly fit for this day and age, yet, Lee had addressed this many moons before. Admittedly, I was only seven years old when his first low-budget effort, following his education at Morehouse then finally NYU, premiered on the big screen. Fast forward to now and I completely enjoyed the Netflix series version of the movie so much, that I revisited the original movie. While Lee’s filmmaking has clearly developed since this film 31 years ago, the genius of the angles and heavy inclusion of jazz soundtracks remain consistent ever since Nola Darling seemed unapologetic for her sexual appetite. They are somewhat of a staple. A staple that makes Lee’s films distinguishable even if you had no idea that he directed it.
Do The Right Thing
Three years later he would introduce the world to Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn in the film Do the Right Thing. Again, this is a film that would do just as well today as it did nearly 30 years ago. Not only because the film was well done, but because the world that we viewed through Lee’s lens in 1989 has unfortunately not changed much today. This might be seen as the unchanging times of America that we live in. The times that disguise oppression under the guise of redlining and gentrification. Times that Lee had already spoke of so many years ago. Is it because he had an amazing talent of exposing issues that he knew would transcend the test of time or was it purely a shot in the dark to try to bring the world’s awareness to life in Brooklyn? Regardless of how you picture it, Lee, has done remarkable things as a filmmaker and we haven’t even spoke about School Daze or Malcolm X. With this in mind, is it far-fetched to imagine why sometimes Lee comes across as a bitter old man when he talks about other filmmakers? He has forged a path through muddy waters and has the dirty uniform to show for it. Now after 76 director credits including movies, TV shows and even a video game, Spike Lee has quite possibly earned the right to be an asshole. Catch ya’ on the Flipside.