Spike Lee (pictured) and his criticism of the gentrification of New York, more specifically Brooklyn, was one of the most-buzzed about topics in the news yesterday. After his appearance as a guest lecturer at the Pratt Institute this week where he railed against how much the city has changed, Brooklyn residents have lashed out at the famed film director.
Lee’s passion against how much his beloved borough of Brooklyn has become a haven for so-called “hipsters” and young professional Whites was on display during a minutes-long rant at Pratt. The New York Daily News captured reactions from some of Brooklyn’s transplants who took umbrage at Lee’s comments.
From the News:
“I don’t see a negative to cleaning up a neighborhood,” said Marina Rutherfurd, 25, who was walking her English springer spaniel Hudson in Fort Greene Park on Wednesday, not far from where Lee shot scenes for “Crooklyn,” his 1994 semibiographical film about life growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s.
“I think it’s a creative bunch of people doing interesting things,” added Rutherfurd, who moved to Fort Greene just a month ago from the Hamptons, where she recently opened a restaurant called Station. “It’s all good intentions.”
At one point, Lee passionately blasted dog walkers at Fort Greene Park, calling it the “motherf*ckin’ Westminster Dog Show” during his discussion on Tuesday. Other reactions from Brooklyn residents were similar, with one woman saying Lee was just trying to “provoke” people and adding that’s what he’s always done. Another person who moved to the borough from Toronto added that she sees “benefit” in Brooklyn’s gentrification and lauded the fact she can now buy a “decent cup of coffee.”
Daily News columnist Errol Louis suggested that Lee actually helped to lure people to his native Brooklyn because of his marketing of the borough by way of his dress and New York pride that is almost always on display. Louis noted that Lee’s rant was humorous at points but also said that it was “downright offensive” as well. On social media, Louis’ column was praised with many comments adding that Lee was “racist,” among other things not fit to print.
NPR blogger and Postbourgie founder/editor Gene “G.D.” Demby shared in Louis’ suggestion that Lee helped make the area attractive to transplants and outsiders, with both writers noting the many entertainers who called the borough home at one time. Stars such as Erykah Badu, Guru and DJ Premier of Gang Starr fame, Saul Williams, Jay Electronica and a host of other transplants have lived in Brooklyn over the years, no doubt attracted to the creative energy Lee wants to see preserved.
Lee hasn’t said much since delivering the rant, but a quick scan of his Twitter account showed that he posted an Instagram photo of an old Tarzan movie with the caption “Early Gentrification.”