I don’t generally condone cursing to get your point across, but Spike Lee is a horse’s ass, and has been one for years.
I can’t speak to the way he behaved when he was still making culturally relevant films rather than low-budget flicks you have to live in New York, LA or somewhere with a Blockbuster video to see, but everyone I’ve spoken to who has met Lee in the past 10 years says the man is insufferable.
Lee’s cantankerous attitude had been a poorly kept Hollywood secret, but of late entertainers of seemingly every stripe have been taking turns trying to come up with the fiercest way to insult the director.
Jamie Foxx recently called him “shady” and “irresponsible.”
“The question for me is: where’s Spike Lee coming from?” Foxx said. “He didn’t like Whoopi Goldberg, he doesn’t like Tyler Perry, he doesn’t like anybody. I think he’s sort of run his course. I mean, I respect Spike, he’s a fantastic director. But he gets a little shady when he’s taking shots at his colleagues without looking at the work.”
Legendary civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory called him a “punk” and a “thug.”
“The little thug ain’t even seen the movie; he’s acting like he white,” Gregory said of Lee. “[Talking about] ‘it offended my ancestors,’ but when you did ‘She’s Got To Have It’ and some of those other thug movies you did…you took Malcolm X and put a Zoot suit on him…did that offend your ancestors, punk?”
That wasn’t even the worst of it.
“Screw Spike Lee,” former 2 Live Crew frontman Luther ‘Uncle Luke’ Campbell wrote in an editorial for the Miami New Times. “Lee needs to get over himself. He’s upset because Tarantino makes better movies. The man who put Malcolm X on the big screen is Hollywood’s resident house negro; a bougie activist who wants to tell his fellow white auteurs how they can and can’t depict African Americans.
“Spike is upset because Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie is just like him: a conniving and scheming Uncle Tom.”
Not that Campbell is in any position to be casting aspersions – the man has been arrested and sued for “obscenity” more than just about anyone on planet earth – but the fact that he felt compelled to write an editorial (and a pretty good one as far as celebrity editorials go) in the Miami New Times makes a powerful statement about just how unliked Lee is.
To be fair, all this disparagement comes in response to Lee’s sharp criticism of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” the Golden Globe Award winner for best screenplay and a movie that has gotten an 88 percent positive score on movie critic amalgamation website RottenTomatoes.com, but really it’s more that people are sick of Spike’s Black curmudgeon act.
His stand is made exponentially less credible by the fact that he hasn’t even seen the film.
“All I’m going to say is that it’s disrespectful to my ancestors,” Lee said in December.
It also seems like his refusal to see the film and his criticism of it is really just sour grapes. Lee has a longstanding beef with Tarantino because of the white director’s frequent use of the word “nigger” in his films, particularly his 1997 Pam Grier vehicle “Jackie Brown.”
“I have a definite problem with Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the n-word,” Lee said in 1997. “And let the record show that I never said that he cannot use that word – I’ve used that word in many of my films – but I think something is wrong with him. You look at ‘Pulp Fiction,’ ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and even that thing with Christian Slater, ‘True Romance.’ It’s just the n-word, the n-word, the n-word. He says he grew up on Blaxploitation films and that they were his favorite films but he has to realize that those films do not speak to the breadth of the entire African-American experience. I mean the guy’s just stupid… I am not the only African-American in this world who has a problem with this excessive use of the n-word.”
The crazy thing is that Lee wasn’t and isn’t necessarily wrong. Tarantino does use the n-word quite a bit and excessive is really not an unfair summation. Not to mention, the director’s use of the word in “Django Unchained” goes to another level.
The problem is that nobody likes Spike Lee anymore and no one wants to be associated with him or stand up for him. He burned all of his Hollywood bridges when he made “Bamboozled” and he’s taken a torch to the few he had left with reckless abandon over the past decade. The man is so unpopular in the entertainment industry (not to mention cheap) that he literally uses interns from his NYU film school class to shoot his movies now.
Yes, people like “Django.” It’s an entertaining film that features a freed slave beating his former master with his own whip, blowing up a slave plantation and killing slave masters like it’s his job (which it kind of is). But this recent batch of criticism can be best attributed to Lee’s complete lack of friends, within the entertainment industry and outside of it.
“I was a really huge fan of his work and he was just such an a–hole to me,” said an entertainment journalist who interviewed Lee last summer.
“He really is a jerk,” one of my editors told me. “I picked him up from the airport in my car, I drove a Jaguar, and he spent the entire ride insulting my poor Jaguar and calling me bougie.”
Everyone – and I mean single person – I have met who has had any sort of interaction with the director over the years says the same thing about him that Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah said about Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett – “he’s very mean and very ugly.”
Lee’s rude, disrespectful and often apathetic attitude toward his peers, the media and his audiences has turned almost everyone against him and it’s really quite a shame.
If he were here, I would tell Spike Lee what my mother told me when I got suspended from school in eighth grade for yelling at kids to “get off my bus,” when they reached their stop – “You need to stop, because eventually being an a-hole catches up to you.”