Spike Lee Essay, Research Paper
The man we know as ?Spike? was born Shelton Jackson Lee on
March 20, 1957 in Atlanta ,Georgia. The first of five children, he
got the nickname Spike from his mother for being ?a tough baby?.
Spike?s tendency to be difficult is one that goes right back to the
crib. The infant Spike, much like the man he grew into, was small
but loud. The family he was born into was great for a number of
reasons. His parents, college educated newlyweds, both came
from families stressing creativity and black tradition. Bill Lee, Spikes
father, was born in 1929 in Snow Hill Alabama. He was a jazz
composer/musician nicknamed ?Bleek?. His mother Jacquelyn
Shelton Lee taught art and black history. The Lees tried to instill a
sense of humor in their children, along with educating them in
black culture. They rationed the young ones? TV time, Forbade
rock music, In favor of jazz and folk, and had each offspring learn
to play a instrument. Spike, a shy, quiet boy, took guitar and
piano lessons. He also played and loved every type of sport.
Spike denies that he ever had any thoughts of becoming a film
maker in those early years. Becoming one of very few black film
makers has made Spike a black African American entrepreneur
and has given many young black people something to believe in
and strive for. Spike Lee regions as one of the world?s most
controversial filmmakers thus contributing to the controversial
issues in his films. Movies have a way of enriching us like no other
art form. They can change us, touch us and influence us. They
can introduce us to foreign lands and foreign ideas. At their best,
they can invite us to reconsider our point of view. Spike Lee the
acclaimed movie director/ producer/ writer/ actor, is the most
influential filmmaker of his time. His directing caused major
controversy in his early years, but as he matured he began to
present his ideas more open-mindedly and tolerantly. His
collection of films enrich us with new ways that we as a human
race can learn to live together in peace. His work builds new
roads for the world to start on a new journey. If Spike has his way,
the journey that began as a hate-filled race war will turn into the
road of understanding and tolerance that will one day end in
mutual respect and harmony. Shelton Jackson ?Spike? Lee has
been a hero to many people. He has brought out the real issues
that people need to see and confront.
(One last item: when it comes to capitalizing names of races,
book publishers, magazines and newspapers all have their own
policies and house styles. Some capitalize ?White? but not
?blacks?; others [ including Spike lee?s books capitalize ?Black? but
not ?white?]. Aiming to be fair and grammatically correct this
paper capitalizes them both)
II.Never has any young black director/ producer/ writer/ actor/
editor done so much to pave the path for others to follow.
A. Spike Lee made his mark as an entrepreneur by taking
the risks necessary to make films based on African American life.
1.?He?s the one filmmaker who?s made it and stayed black?
said director John Singleton (Pa pg. 188)
a. Spike Lee was among the first black filmmakers to win
respect in Hollywood with out going ?Hollywood?. He had little
interest in flamboyant lifestyles that the film industry offered.
b.Spike has made his films to show how it really is for
c. Lee holds back no stops, he gives out the truth.
2. ?I want to be remembered for honest, true portrayals of blacks
and for being our richness to the screen? says Spike (Bernotas
B.Spike was concerned that there were few blacks in
Hollywood working behind the cameras as producers, directors,
cameramen. He dreamed of ushering in a new era of black
filmmaking in Hollywood.
1. ?Spike put this trend in vogue? notes Mark Canton of
Warner Bros. ?His talent opened the door for others? Van Peables
agrees. ?If it weren?t for Spike I wouldn?t be here.? (Bernotas
C. ?I?m not making movies to become famous or become
filthy rich or to have ten million beautiful women. I just want to
present black people as I know them.? (Bernotas pg-50)
1. ? The important thing is, I?m doing what makes me
happy,99% of the people in this world go to their grave having
worked at a job they hated.? (Bernotas pg-52)
D. Spike has done much more than make movies to help out
his fellow repressed black brother.
1. Spike has given money to many charities.
a. In sharing his wealth with the black community,
Spike established two annual $5,000 grants, Spike Lees Minority
Fellow ship to help two or three year black students at New York
University Tisch School of the Arts.
b. He has also gave $50,000 to United Negro Collage
Fund and raised an additional $200,000.
III. Spike Lee is one of the most racist bigots on the earth! This
comment is very common among the uneducated educated.
A. ?I?m not a racist; I?m not a bigot; I?m not an anti-Semitic.
What I try to do with all my characters is offer what I feel are
honest portraits of individuals with both faults and enduring
characters? says Spike (Parish pg.- 211)
1. ?If critics are telling me that to avoid charges of
anti-Semitism all Jewish characters I write have to be model
citizens, and not one can be a villain, cheat or a crook, and that
no Jewish people have ever exploited black artists in history of
entertainment industry, that?s unrealistic and unfair.? said Spike
a. All I have is questions. Very few of us have any real
answers. Most have FALSE BOGUS ANSWERS, to FALSE SOLUTIONS,
speakers of the UNTRUTH.
Is a person a racist if he/she dose not approve of interracial
marriages or relationships? Is white always gonna be ALL RIGHT
and black GET BACK? Is the epitome of beauty in this world
always gonna be the WHITE ANGLO-SAXON FEMALE? Is the black
male the super human sexual stud and that?s all? Are we ever
gonna live together in peace ? asked Spike (Patterson pg-171)
b. ?We love? said Spike ?love and hate? he goes on ?are
we gonna live together? Together are we gonna live??(Patterson
B. ?I?m black. It?s a fact. Like saying the sky is blue. Am I bitter
about it? No. Am I angry about it? No. Am I aware what it
means to be a black in America today? Yes.? Said Spike.
1. I?m white its a fact. Its like saying grass is green. Do I feel
superior about it? No. Do I hold offensive views about blacks
because of it? No. Am I aware of what it means to be black in
America today. Well maybe not. But I?m trying. I know that no
white can ever really know what it means to be a different color-
no, not even with the black like me shoe-polish treatment. But,
contrary to what some racial radicals proclaim, there are few of
us out there who recognize the seriousness of the situation and
would like to make some small contribution to improving it.
a. ?Black people are not thought of as equals,? argues
Spike, ? therefor you have a qualifying word like ?black? director.?
he has a valid point Steven Spielberg or Martins Corsese, for
example are almost never referred to as ?white? directors.
b. ?Anybody who?s black knows you have to be two or
three times better. I had to be at least that good in film school,
and, in the majors, you?ve got to be ten times better. It affects
me; your never counted or judged as a person. Its ?black? this
and black that. But you try to put it past you, Focus on your work.?
c. ?You really carry a burden as a black filmmaker. There
are so few black films that when you do one it has to represent
every black person in the world? argues Mr. Lee
d. ?My work is to put the vast richness of black culture on
film. That?s a big job. I just try and draw upon the great culture
we have as a people?? explains Spike,? from the music, novels,
and the streets.?
C. What kind of black man gets respect?
1. Only famous black men, otherwise people aren?t
interested and wont give you the time of day as a black man.
a. Michael Jordan.
b. Tiger Woods.
c. Michael Jackson.
d. Barry White.
D.In society and in filmmaking slurs against black African
Americans are commonly accepted as part of the language and
text of movies.
1. The film Jackie Brown directed by Quentiin Tarantino had
excessive use of black slurs.
a. This film used nigger an excessive 38 times.
b. This is not the only film that has the excessive use of
slurs towards blacks. Others such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp
Fiction directed by Tarantion also have unnecessary use.
2. Spike states ? I?m not against the word and I use it, but not
excessively. And some people speak that way,? Lee says.?…[but]
I want Quentin to know that all African- Americans do not think
that word is trendy or slick.?
a. ?If I has used the word ?kike? 38 times in Mo Better
Blues, It would have been my last picture.? Argues Spike
LAST= One thing the white man can never give the black man is
self-respect! The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
IIII. What is Spike trying to do by making these movies?
A. Spike ? I never tried to position myself as a spokesman,
that?s something the media has tried to put upon me.? He goes
on with ?I?ve never really thought of myself as a spokesperson for
all 35 million African Americans…. All my views have been solely
my views, and I think that there are African American people who
agree with me, but we also have African Americans who don?t
agree…… It is a fallacy that all of my critics are white.?
1. Spike Lee says that he cannot and does not want to
be the savior of black filmmaking; ?I?m not trying to right
everything that?s been wrong as far as film and black people are
concerned for the last 100 years.?
a. Spike feels ?Every film shouldn?t be about some
urban, hip hop drug thing.?
b. Spike says ? I?m not saying I?m the grand pooh bah
of black cinema. I say this is a challenge. Lets be more creative.
B. Spike is trying to keep it real by doing the right thing.
1. He is staying black despite the pressures form society.
a. Lee makes movies on his very questionable culture.
b. Lee is trying to make the world a better place.
Spike Lee is, has been, and will forever be one of the greatest
filmmakers of our time. Just because he doesn?t spend $200
million on his movies or have elaborate SFX with dinosaurs doesn?t
mean he isn?t the cream of the crop. Spike never ceases to tell
interesting and thought provoking stories…. The goal of any good
filmmaker. Another goal of Spikes is to lead us on a path toward
a society with realequality. Spike has gone and shown us the way
to this threw his movies. Shes Gotta Have it?s closing credits and
this paper include the inscription ?this film (or paper) was made
with no jeri curls and no drugs.? Shelton Jackson Spike Lee is a
hero to us all, and if you don?t agree with me in the words of Mr.
Spike Lee ? kiss my ass two times.?
2.It is hard to get the proper amount of money to make a
a.Spike ? the reason I act in my films, is because it?s easier to
get my films made with me in them. There will come a time,
hopefully soon, where I won?t have to be in my films to get them
made or to get the kind of money I want?
b.No one wanted to give him a chance and invest money
in him but his own grandmother.
II.Five for five!
A.She?s Got Have It
1.Even the tittle of this movie rose questions.
a.What does she have to have?
b.How can he make a movie like this, it is impoable.
2.Cost spike a grueling 175,000 dollars to get it made.
a.All where no name actors and actress.