spike lee & boston celtics

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John O'Neil - SunExpress IR

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Nov 18, 1992, 5:28:03 AM11/18/92
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i have never seen any spike lee movies, but i understand he has a problem with
larry bird and the celtics. i read a interview where he states he hopes the red sox and the
celtics never will another game. does anyone know any more info on this, just what is this
guy's problem.

________________________________________________________________________________
/// all the world will be your enemy \\\ ++ JOHN P. ONEIL
( 00 and when they catch you, they will kill you 00 ) ++ SUN EXPRESS IR
|\_| but first they must catch you.... |_/| ++ METHUEN,MA.
________________________________________________________________________________


Jason John Seaver

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Nov 18, 1992, 8:34:17 AM11/18/92
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In article <1ed5rl...@seven-up.East.Sun.COM> jon...@heretix.East.Sun.COM writes:
>i have never seen any spike lee movies, but i understand he has a problem with
>Larry Bird and the Celtics. I read a interview where he states he hopes the
>Red sox and the Celtics never win another game. Does anyone know any more

>info on this, just what is this guy's problem.

I'm inclined to say he's just a jerk. However, it often seems by his
actions that he doesn't like white people, and both the Celtics and the Sox
are both predominately white, and Larry Bird would seem to be particurally
offesnive to him, a white man good at a "black man's game".

I realize what I'm saying could be viewed as racist by someone who
really wanted to view it that way (and there'd probably be no convincing that
person that it isn't so why bother trying), but Lee really encourages this
idea; I believe he said he would only talk to black reporters about Malcom X
(open-minded, eh?) and his fixation with making movies that are about black
people first and people second seems more pervasive than Oliver Stone's stuck-
in-the-sixties trauma.

I too have not seen any of his films, and probably won't for a long
time - they just haven't appealed to me. But comments like the ones about the
Celtics, the Red Sox, and his encouraging of kids to SKIP SCHOOL to see Malcom
X really don't help in making me want to.

-Jay

Terri Buchman

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Nov 18, 1992, 8:31:49 AM11/18/92
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In article <1ed5rl...@seven-up.East.Sun.COM> John O'Neil -

SunExpress IR, jon...@heretix.East.Sun.COM writes:
>i have never seen any spike lee movies, but i understand
>he has a problem with larry bird and the celtics. i read a
>interview where he states he hopes the red sox and the
>celtics never will another game. does anyone know any
>more info on this, just what is this guy's problem.

I'm not Spike Lee but I'll give you the answers to this that have
run in the papers. Spike Lee objected to the media coverage of
Larry Bird that seemed to suggest that he was the great white hope
of basketball. Spike felt that Bird got more publicity because he
was white in a sport that was 80% + black. Lee felt that the media
emphasized Bird and the Celtics to the exclusion of other, perhaps
better, teams because of Bird's color. Spike had some comments
published in the local papers when he was giving a seminar at
Harvard this year that indicated that part of his animosity is real
and based on what I have written. Some of it is not so serious
though. Spike is a New York fan and likes to taunt the Boston fans.
All the Celtic fans that I know conceed that Spike has a point
about the treatment of Bird and really aren't that upset about the
comments.

The problem with the Red Sox is a problem of perception and action.
The Red Sox are one of the 'whitest' teams in baseball. Last year
the team had only 2 or 3 black players in a sport where blacks
represent 40%+ of the players. The Sox were the last major league
team to integrate (1962, I think) and they have not gone out of
their way to make black fans feel welcome in chummy little Fenway.
A lot of black fans nationwide perceive the Red Sox as arrogant and
unwilling to change. To be fair, the Red Sox have instituted some
programs that promise change. One of their vp's, Ellen Weddington,
is a black woman and they have promised to involve more blacks in
managerial and power position throughout their organization. But
the organization still has a long way to go. They have been sued
within the last ten years for racial discrimination and lost, they
had a needless controversy arise in spring training when it was
found that white athletes were patronizing a bar (Elks lodge or
something) that didn't allow black patrons in. Spike has a point.
The Red Sox need to change.

TerriB.
(A major Red Sox fan, but I'm not blind.)

John H. Zureick

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Nov 18, 1992, 9:10:02 AM11/18/92
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>i have never seen any spike lee movies, but i understand he has a problem with
>larry bird and the celtics. i read a interview where he states he hopes the red sox and the
>celtics never will another game. does anyone know any more info on this, just what is this
>guy's problem.
>

The guys a big N.Y. Knicks and N.Y. Yankees fan and hates the Celtics
and Red Sox. Go figure. I bet he isn't too fond of the Philadelphia
76er's either.

--
John H. Zureick zur...@ucunix.san.uc.edu

Peter Reiher

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Nov 18, 1992, 1:45:29 PM11/18/92
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In article <1edgop...@bigboote.WPI.EDU> jse...@bigwpi.WPI.EDU (Jason John Seaver) writes:
>
> I'm inclined to say he's just a jerk.
>
>I believe he said he would only talk to black reporters about Malcom X
>(open-minded, eh?)

Not exactly. He put substantial pressure on a number of magazines to
send black reporters for the interviews. I don't think he ever refused
to talk to a white reporter who actually was sent to interview him, and
he definitely talked to some white reporters about "Malcolm X".

By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
his films.

--
Peter Reiher
rei...@wells.cs.ucla.edu

Il Hwan Oh

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Nov 18, 1992, 4:22:43 PM11/18/92
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rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:

> By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
> Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
> whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
> don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
> films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
> his films.

I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them. I watch
a lot of movies and will probably see _Malcom_X_ eventually, but I
won't go out of my way to see it.

If you don't agree Spike Lee's public opinions, chances are fairly good
that you won't like his movies. His movies incorporate a lot of very
stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques. I could really
get into them if it weren't for his in-your-face, shove-it-down-your-throat
style of preaching in these movies. It's also blatantly obvious that
the movies were written and directed by a black person, and I think
there's a lot more to life than that. His movies reflect (and encourage)
thinking in very limited terms.

--
Il Hwan Oh | "You live and learn.
Computer Facilities Manager | At any rate, you live."
University of Washington, Tacoma | -- Douglas Adams
i...@cac.washington.edu |

gilbert.m.stewart

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Nov 18, 1992, 6:48:16 PM11/18/92
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In article <1edgop...@bigboote.WPI.EDU> jse...@bigwpi.WPI.EDU (Jason John Seaver) writes:

gilbert.m.stewart

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Nov 18, 1992, 7:09:43 PM11/18/92
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In article <1992Nov18.2...@u.washington.edu> i...@cac.washington.edu writes:
>rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:
>
>> By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
>> Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
>> whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
>> don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
>> films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
>> his films.
>
>I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
>and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
>interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them. I watch
>a lot of movies and will probably see _Malcom_X_ eventually, but I
>won't go out of my way to see it.
>
>If you don't agree Spike Lee's public opinions, chances are fairly good
>that you won't like his movies. His movies incorporate a lot of very
>stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques. I could really
>get into them if it weren't for his in-your-face, shove-it-down-your-throat
>style of preaching in these movies. It's also blatantly obvious that
>the movies were written and directed by a black person, and I think
>there's a lot more to life than that. His movies reflect (and encourage)
>thinking in very limited terms.

My interpretation was different. I liked Do the Right Thing primarily
because it seemed to show a balanced picture. Radio Raheem (sp?), for
instance, was really an annoying character to Sal. However, he had a
point about what he perceived as a slight to the black community. And
Sal had a point, too, but although he was legally right, he was being
rude to his customers and the community. Then things got out of hand.

I see this even-handedness as a nice contrast to Lee's public personna
of race-baiting, and find it hard to believe that he is as defensive
and knee-jerk inside as his publicity would have you believe. He may
be doing it for dramatic effect to get his points across.

GMS

gilbert.m.stewart

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Nov 18, 1992, 6:58:26 PM11/18/92
to
In article <1edgop...@bigboote.WPI.EDU> jse...@bigwpi.WPI.EDU (Jason John Seaver) writes:
>In article <1ed5rl...@seven-up.East.Sun.COM> jon...@heretix.East.Sun.COM writes:
>>i have never seen any spike lee movies, but i understand he has a problem with
>>Larry Bird and the Celtics. I read a interview where he states he hopes the
>>Red sox and the Celtics never win another game. Does anyone know any more
>>info on this, just what is this guy's problem.
> I'm inclined to say he's just a jerk. However, it often seems by his
>actions that he doesn't like white people, and both the Celtics and the Sox
>are both predominately white, and Larry Bird would seem to be particurally
>offesnive to him, a white man good at a "black man's game".

Keep in mind that you are entertaining a bit of extrapolation in this
regard. It may be his reasoning, but it may not be. He may just not
like the teams. Sports fans can get a bit weird at times.

> I realize what I'm saying could be viewed as racist by someone who
>really wanted to view it that way (and there'd probably be no convincing that
>person that it isn't so why bother trying), but Lee really encourages this

I can't be sure that this isn't a ploy to get controversy (NO!! They
don't do that in Hollywood!!)

>idea; I believe he said he would only talk to black reporters about Malcom X
>(open-minded, eh?) and his fixation with making movies that are about black
>people first and people second seems more pervasive than Oliver Stone's stuck-
>in-the-sixties trauma.

He may see himself as a person sending much-needed messages. I find his
movies to be much more even-handed at dealing with issues than his
personal personna. Also, he might just not like the white people he's
met. I have a friend who talked to him at film school, and apparently
he doesn't like talking to white people in general, or at least it
seemed so to my friend.


>
> I too have not seen any of his films, and probably won't for a long
>time - they just haven't appealed to me. But comments like the ones about the
>Celtics, the Red Sox, and his encouraging of kids to SKIP SCHOOL to see Malcom
>X really don't help in making me want to.
>
> -Jay

Lots of hype, there. You also have to remember that what he said about
black reporters was that he preferred talking to them, presumably because
he felt black reporters would give him a more balanced treatment or
that they would understand his positions better.

Now, if a white film director said the same in regards to whites, he
would be pilloried. Some might argue that the position is different
because of the relative power positions -- something that Lee, regardless
of his statements to the contrary, seems to have profitted from.
In actuality, it is racism by definition, but if you have to make a
decision based on race, even if it is by definition racism, it may
not always be a bad decision. If you are Spike Lee, and you start
with the assumption that a white reporter would not suit your needs
for publicity as well as a black, you might very well make the choice
to make a racist decision for practicality's sake. After all, Malcolm
X was all about race relations and issues. It may be no more a big
deal than requesting that science-knowledgable reporters cover a story
about the space shuttle. It may be a prejudice, but it's a practical
one in that case.

GMS

Daniel J Wood

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Nov 18, 1992, 7:57:15 PM11/18/92
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rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:

>By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
>Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
>whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
>don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
>films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
>his films.

I agree completely. Let the work speak for itself. I just saw the film, and it
was easily one of the best movies I've ever seen. Who ever would have thought
that you'd be able to see very recognizeable spike lee-isms in an EPIC.
Definitely recommended for all.

Myra VanInwegen

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Nov 18, 1992, 10:07:55 PM11/18/92
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>rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:
>> By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
>> Lee personally, you are missing some very good films.
>> whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
>> don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
>> films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
>> his films.

>I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
>and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
>interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them.

> His movies incorporate a lot of very


>stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques.

You wouldn't have missed them despite their use of these uniquely
innovative techniques? Maybe your disagrement with the content is
blinding you to their artistic merit, which even you admit.

I would certainly have missed seeing DO THE RIGHT THING. Even if you
ignore the plot and characters completely (I think it would be a shame
to do this, BTW) there's still plenty there to make it worth watching.
It is quite obvious that this man takes great pains to use the screen
for more than just a place for him to tell a story. He fills the
screen with vibrant colors, different camera angles, and effective
uses of different types of lenses (thinking of one great use of a
wide-angle lens) ... I'd say more but I haven't seen the film in a few
years and don't remember all the great trick he made to make this
movie a real treat for the eye.

>It's also blatantly obvious that
>the movies were written and directed by a black person,

Am I supposed to think that there's something wrong with this?

>and I think there's a lot more to life than that.

WHAT? Let's not just think of this movie, but consider American movies
as a whole. The vast majority of them are written and directed by
whites (specifically white males). And here's one, just one, that was
written and directed by a black guy, and you are faulting it for
showing this. I think there's alot more to life than just white folks
and white folks' concerns. Or are you suggesting that movies made by
white males are universal and cover all possible points of view, so we
don't need movies made by any other types of people?

> His movies reflect (and encourage) thinking in very limited terms.

I think just the opposite. These movies serve a very useful function
of exposing middle class whites (like myself) to points of view other
than the ones we meet in our day to day lives. And, in fact, these are
points of view that we as a nation will have to understand and do
something about. What were the LA riots other than the result of the
people in power in this nation ignoring exactly the problems presented
in this movie?

-Myra
my...@saul.cis.upenn.edu

Christopher R. Boggs

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Nov 18, 1992, 11:25:52 PM11/18/92
to

>By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
>Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
>whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
>don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
>films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
>his films.
>
Spike Lee is simply increasing the paranoia over "racism". Movies such
as his do nothing but make people paranoid and look for "racism". And when
you are paranoid about it to the extent that American public is, you tend to
see it everywhere you look. He is doing _nothing_ to help fight "racism", but
at the same time, he is making tons of money by using it as a vehicle for his
own personal gain. The only reason he is so "well liked" is that he happened
to come along at a point in time when his brand of propaganda has been whole
heartedly embraced. In my opinion, its sad and he is doing more harm than good.

-Chris


--
[]==========================================================================[]
| Christopher R. Boggs, MGT Major, Georgia Institute of Technology |
| "Death is life's way of telling you that you've been fired." -Anon |
[]==========================================================================[]

Peter Reiher

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Nov 19, 1992, 11:51:48 AM11/19/92
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In article <75...@hydra.gatech.EDU> gt9...@prism.gatech.EDU (Christopher R. Boggs) writes:
>
> Spike Lee is simply increasing the paranoia over "racism". Movies such
>as his do nothing but make people paranoid and look for "racism". And when
>you are paranoid about it to the extent that American public is, you tend to
>see it everywhere you look. He is doing _nothing_ to help fight "racism", but
>at the same time, he is making tons of money by using it as a vehicle for his
>own personal gain. The only reason he is so "well liked" is that he happened
>to come along at a point in time when his brand of propaganda has been whole
>heartedly embraced. In my opinion, its sad and he is doing more harm than good.

I disagree for two separate reasons. First, I don't think that Lee is
simply expressing a black version of racism in these films. Second, I
think that, content aside, Lee is a very skillful filmmaker.

To consider Lee's films as purely racist and paranoid is an
oversimplification. I think that Lee is expressing a point of view
a lot of black people really feel - that despite the civil rights
movement of the sixties, most American blacks are still suffering from
the effects of racism. Whether or not you believe that to be true,
lots of blacks do, and it doesn't help to pretend that they don't.
Lee is showing their feelings in eloquent ways, and it behooves us
to watch and listen. The "Lethal Weapon" and "Cosby" view of race
relations in America is a nice ideal, but ignoring the fact that an
awful lot of Americans don't experience race relations in that way
is unrealistic. It pays to hear the angry voices of those who experience
a different reality.

Secondly, I suspect that, a hundred years from now, when the divisive
issues Lee deals with in his films have no more emotional significance
for Americans than the Free Silver movement does today, Lee's films will
still be of interest because of the artistry with which they are made.
That may not make much difference to casual viewers of films, but, if
you're seriously interested in films as an artistic medium, you really
cannot afford to ignore Lee's films. He's doing interesting things that
no other filmmaker is doing, and, while he may not be uniformly successful,
his ideas work quite often enough to make his films worthy of study.

--
Peter Reiher
rei...@wells.cs.ucla.edu

bar...@cod.nosc.mil

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Nov 19, 1992, 1:22:42 PM11/19/92
to

>> His movies reflect (and encourage) thinking in very limited terms.
>
>I think just the opposite. These movies serve a very useful function
>of exposing middle class whites (like myself) to points of view other
>than the ones we meet in our day to day lives. And, in fact, these are
>points of view that we as a nation will have to understand and do
>something about. What were the LA riots other than the result of the
>people in power in this nation ignoring exactly the problems presented
>in this movie?
>

Wait a minute. If this were true, why does he seemingly go out of his way to
piss the middle class whites off before they ever even get a chance to go see
his movies. Statements in the press showing his separist views and his "white
people just don't get it attitude" are enough that I wouldn't spend any money
to finance his future projects of trying to push his opinion down my throat.
Same reason I won't see Oliver Stone films. Maybe if I was involved in the
film industry I would see them because it would be my job, but I am not, so I
can make a choice. If he was trying to make films to enlighten white folks,
then he would be better served by trying to get whites to go see the film
rather than alienating them. It seems that he is making films to enlighten
only black folks as if white folks don't fit in the equation of eventual
racial harmony. To me this is severely limited thinking if not actually
racist.

JDB


Il Hwan Oh

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Nov 19, 1992, 2:53:19 PM11/19/92
to
my...@saul.cis.upenn.edu (Myra VanInwegen) writes:
> i...@cac.washington.edu writes:

> >I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
> >and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
> >interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them.

> > His movies incorporate a lot of very
> >stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques.

> You wouldn't have missed them despite their use of these uniquely
> innovative techniques? Maybe your disagrement with the content is
> blinding you to their artistic merit, which even you admit.

Maybe I misstated my feelings. I don't feel like I really need to
see his movies any more because they all tend to be about the same
subject. It's this limited scope of subject matter that I have a
problem with. For me, it gets old really fast. The innovative
techniques are nice, but they should be used to enhance the movie
rather than become the attraction in the movie, in my opinion.

[descriptions of some of S. Lee's techniques deleted]

> >It's also blatantly obvious that
> >the movies were written and directed by a black person,

> Am I supposed to think that there's something wrong with this?

There's more to a person than his/her color. If he/she can't get beyond
that, he/she is cheating him/herself as well as the world of lots of
potential

> >and I think there's a lot more to life than that.
>
> WHAT? Let's not just think of this movie, but consider American movies
> as a whole. The vast majority of them are written and directed by
> whites (specifically white males). And here's one, just one, that was
> written and directed by a black guy, and you are faulting it for
> showing this. I think there's alot more to life than just white folks
> and white folks' concerns. Or are you suggesting that movies made by
> white males are universal and cover all possible points of view, so we
> don't need movies made by any other types of people?

My problem is that his subject matter is always about racial conflicts/
problems. There are many other stories to be told. As you said, there
are countless white directors and writers, but very few of their movies
are about the same subject. Their subject matters cover a much broader
spectrum.

> > His movies reflect (and encourage) thinking in very limited terms.

> I think just the opposite. These movies serve a very useful function
> of exposing middle class whites (like myself) to points of view other
> than the ones we meet in our day to day lives. And, in fact, these are
> points of view that we as a nation will have to understand and do
> something about. What were the LA riots other than the result of the
> people in power in this nation ignoring exactly the problems presented
> in this movie?

That's view is a perfect valid one for anyone (including yourself) to
hold. My point was just that if someone has a problem with Spike Lee's
public image and stated opinions, there's a good chance that he/she
would not like his movies. I base this conclusion on the fact that
his movies are always about the one subject he has widely publicized
and controversial opinions about.

guti...@mdcbbs.com

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Nov 19, 1992, 4:17:10 AM11/19/92
to
In article <1992Nov18....@cs.ucla.edu>, rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:

> In article <1edgop...@bigboote.WPI.EDU> jse...@bigwpi.WPI.EDU (Jason John Seaver) writes:
>>
>> I'm inclined to say he's just a jerk.
>>
>>I believe he said he would only talk to black reporters about Malcom X
>>(open-minded, eh?)
>

> Jay


>

> By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
> Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
> whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
> don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
> films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
> his films.
> > --
> Peter Reiher
> rei...@wells.cs.ucla.edu


Mr. Reiher is ABSOLUTELY right! As far as I'm concerned, Spike Lee
is entitled to whatever he wants to say. The last I heard, this is
still a guaranteed right under the Constitution here in the U.S.A.

I have no express opinion on Mr. Lee myself, so when I watched the
movie, Malcolm X, I had an open mind. Yes, you could feel Mr. Lee's
"presence" in Malcolm X, but nonetheless, the movie was an excellent
one; in fact one of the best movies I've seen for quite awhile.

Definitely, if anybody "boycotts" this movie because of his/her pure
dislike of Mr. Lee and his color, IMHO, he or she will have missed
not only a great movie experience, but also a chance to change or even
rationalize his/her present opinion on the race or harmony issue.

Watch this movie......you'll be surprised!


guti...@mdcbbs.com

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Nov 19, 1992, 4:30:48 AM11/19/92
to


Here's a fervent hope that there are more "Myra's" and less of
"Jay's" and "Il Hwang's" in this world we live in!

Charles L Isbell

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Nov 19, 1992, 5:35:33 PM11/19/92
to
i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:
|rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:
|> By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
|> Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
|> whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
|> don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
|> films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
|> his films.

|I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
|and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
|interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them. I watch
|a lot of movies and will probably see _Malcom_X_ eventually, but I
|won't go out of my way to see it.

Hmmmm and I've always thought just the opposite. he manages to avoid
preaching, particularly in DTRT.

|If you don't agree Spike Lee's public opinions, chances are fairly good
|that you won't like his movies. His movies incorporate a lot of very
|stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques. I could really
|get into them if it weren't for his in-your-face, shove-it-down-your-throat
|style of preaching in these movies. It's also blatantly obvious that
|the movies were written and directed by a black person, and I think
|there's a lot more to life than that. His movies reflect (and encourage)
|thinking in very limited terms.

Funny, I've always thought the same thing about most of Woody Allen's
films... and Oliver Stone's for that matter. Loved most of them
though.

--
Peace.
"Any Black man who's educated and speaks articulately is not
considered 'really' Black. It's the same reason people think
you're a dyke."
"People think I'm a dyke?"
"Take it as a compliment, I've learned to."
-Kyle Baker, Why I Hate Saturn
-\--/-
Don't just adopt opinions | \/ | Some of you are homeboys
develop them. | /\ | but only I am The Homeboy From hell
-/--\-

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 19, 1992, 7:02:56 PM11/19/92
to
zur...@ucunix.san.uc.edu (John H. Zureick) writes:
|>i have never seen any spike lee movies, but i understand he has a
|>problem with larry bird and the celtics. i read a interview where he
|>states he hopes the red sox and the celtics never will another game.
|>does anyone know any more info on this, just what is this guy's problem.

|The guys a big N.Y. Knicks and N.Y. Yankees fan and hates the Celtics
|and Red Sox. Go figure. I bet he isn't too fond of the Philadelphia
|76er's either.

And don`t forget, if you're bad... you go to Detroit.

You know, this whole discussion is ironic. Spike Lee has always
maintained that people can never seem to discuss his movies without
discussing him.

Why is that?

Someone asks about the movie on r.a.m. and the discussion goes into
why he doesn't like the Celtics? "I`ve never seen any Spike Lee
movie, But I understand he has a problem with Larry Bird and the
Celtics."

What is this?

I'm no Celtics fan either. I laugh out loud at the New England
Patriots. Always hated them. GO Bulls. GO Braves. So what?

What does this have to do with _Malcolm X_?

I've seen the movie. It is EXCELLENT! Oscar quality. Denzel
Washington is absolutely brilliant. So's Al Freeman Jr. The score is
powerful. It`s an epic film. Wonderfully directed. Best so far this
year. Go see it... then read the book upon which it's based.

Matthew Melmon

unread,
Nov 19, 1992, 4:37:29 PM11/19/92
to
In article <1992Nov19.1...@u.washington.edu>,

i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) wrote:

> My problem is that his subject matter is always about racial conflicts/
> problems. There are many other stories to be told. As you said, there
> are countless white directors and writers, but very few of their movies
> are about the same subject. Their subject matters cover a much broader
> spectrum.

I have the same problem with Lee (well, I also think his talent
somewhat less than, say, FFC...). Anything and everything is 'racism.'
Why didn't _Do the Right Thing_ win an Oscar? Because it was primitive,
dull, poorly-written, and of minor appeal? No. It was racism. Lee's
been crying about racism since a white doctor slapped his black butt.

His stories are contrived. His characters are contrived. His
camera angles are contrived. His sets are contrived. He, himself,
is contrived.

The biggest squaking media phenomena this side of Madonna (and
even there, he's not *quite* in the same league...).

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 20, 1992, 4:09:19 AM11/20/92
to

gt9...@prism.gatech.EDU (Christopher R. Boggs) writes:
> Spike Lee is simply increasing the paranoia over "racism". Movies such
>as his do nothing but make people paranoid and look for "racism". And when
>you are paranoid about it to the extent that American public is, you tend to
>see it everywhere you look. He is doing _nothing_ to help fight "racism", but
>at the same time, he is making tons of money by using it as a vehicle for his
>own personal gain. The only reason he is so "well liked" is that he happened
>to come along at a point in time when his brand of propaganda has been whole
>heartedly embraced. In my opinion, its sad and he is doing more harm than good.

Since I am a graduate of Ga Tech, I will appeal to your engineering
education. Please explain how Spike Lee's movies increase paranoia
over "racism" in each of his widely-seen films:

1) _She's Gotta Have It_
2) _School Daze_
3) _Do The Right Thing_
4) _Mo' Better Blues_
5) _Jungle Fever_
6) _Malcolm X_

Also, be certain to point to specific scenes and themes in each of the
films. Point out inconsistencies with reality, whether real or
implied.

Define propoganda and contrast Spike Lee's brand with "A Dry White
Season", "Mississippi Burning" and "Driving Miss Daisy."

Explain what he *should* be during to "help fight racism." Compare it
to your efforts and the efforts of your friends, your school, and
other filmmakers.

Finally, explain the relevance of your analysis to his skill as a
filmmaker and ability to tell a story. Be sure to outline your
opinion on the likely longevity of his films and the probable view of
future art critics with regards to him.


--
Peace.
"I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the
social and political equality of the white and black races--I am not,
nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor
of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people."
-Abraham Lincoln
First Lincoln-Douglas Debate
August 21, 1858

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 20, 1992, 4:12:21 AM11/20/92
to

Ha! Do you honestly think that he is making films to "enlighten only
Black folks"? His subject matter is such that this is almost
impossible! It would be like JFK being done to enlighten students of
Jim Garrison.

In any case, since lots of middle class Whites see his films, your
assertions seem to fall short of reality.

Again, Malcolm X is an excellent film.

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 20, 1992, 4:45:48 AM11/20/92
to
bar...@cod.nosc.mil writes:
|Wait a minute. If this were true, why does he seemingly go out of his way to
|piss the middle class whites off before they ever even get a chance to go see
|his movies. Statements in the press showing his separist views and his "white
|people just don't get it attitude" are enough that I wouldn't spend any money
|to finance his future projects of trying to push his opinion down my throat.
|Same reason I won't see Oliver Stone films. Maybe if I was involved in the
|film industry I would see them because it would be my job, but I am not, so I
|can make a choice. If he was trying to make films to enlighten white folks,
|then he would be better served by trying to get whites to go see the film
|rather than alienating them. It seems that he is making films to enlighten
|only black folks as if white folks don't fit in the equation of eventual
|racial harmony. To me this is severely limited thinking if not actually
|racist.

This seems strange to me. What seems to irritate people the most is
that he makes films about Black America without reference to White
America (most notably in Mo Better Blues, She's Gotta Have It and
School Daze). So what? Since Black Americans have lives and
experiences without reference to White America, this would seem
appropriate. One could contrast this to films like _A Dry White
Season_ which while taking place in South Africa or whatever are
really stories about White people who are dealing with the suffering
of surrounding Black people and feeling angst or rigtheous indignation
about it. Similarly, _Mississippi Burning_ is one of these films. To
misquote someone else, these films "are so obviously made by a [White]
person."

One of his skills as a storyteller, in my opinion, is his ability to
present an even-handed set of events, allowing the actors and the
audience to extract their own meanings (this is most obvious in _Do
The Right Thing_ and _Jungle Fever_). As such, I'd appreciate a
further explanation of examples where Spike Lee uses his movies to
"push his opinions down [one's] throat". Can you think of any
examples, really?

I can't. Even when one character pushes an opinion another disputes
it in some way. I take as empirical evidence of this the widely
differing interpretations of posters of r.a.m. after _DTRT_ in
particular and many of his other films in general.

I think Spike Lee is right: many of his critics do not have opinions
on his films, they have opinions on HIM. I find this somewhat lame
and even disingenious.

But perhaps I am wrong. Anyone care to present some examples from his
films without dengenerating into a commentary on his bsketball
preferences?

BTW, _Malcolm X_ is an excellent film.

--
Peace.
"When society acknowledges you as one of its victims
rather than one of its members, it no longer has
any responsibility to help you."
- Kyle Baker, Why I Hate Saturn

Robin L. Gibson

unread,
Nov 20, 1992, 1:46:37 PM11/20/92
to

In a previous article, ma...@apple.com (Matthew Melmon) says:

>In article <1992Nov19.1...@u.washington.edu>,
>i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) wrote:
>
>I have the same problem with Lee (well, I also think his talent
>somewhat less than, say, FFC...). Anything and everything is 'racism.'
>Why didn't _Do the Right Thing_ win an Oscar? Because it was primitive,
>dull, poorly-written, and of minor appeal? No. It was racism. Lee's
>been crying about racism since a white doctor slapped his black butt.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Cute, but don't assume it was a white doctor...

>His stories are contrived. His characters are contrived. His
>camera angles are contrived. His sets are contrived. He, himself,
>is contrived.
>

It's obvious you haven't seen _X_ and are talking out the side of your neck, to boot.
--
Robin L. Gibson gib...@email.ncsc.navy.mil

Coastal Systems Station
Panama City, FL 32407-5000

Myra VanInwegen

unread,
Nov 20, 1992, 1:40:02 PM11/20/92
to
In article <mattm-191...@mcmelmon.apple.com> ma...@apple.com
(Matthew Melmon) writes:
>I have the same problem with Lee. Anything and everything is 'racism.'

>Why didn't _Do the Right Thing_ win an Oscar? Because it was primitive,
>dull, poorly-written, and of minor appeal? No. It was racism. Lee's
>been crying about racism since a white doctor slapped his black butt.

"Primitive, dull, poorly-written, and of minor appeal"? Did you and I
see the same movie? No matter what you may think of the content, how
could you watch this movie and not recognize that this is a fine
example of the artistic possibilities of the movie media? I've pointed
out, in an earlier article in this thread, some of the techniques that
make this film a real visual treat. And, unlike many artistic films,
this one really *moves*. It draws you into the story, drags you along,
(OK, so there are some quiet moments between Mookie and his
girlfriend, but besides this...) and doesn't let you out until the
end. As for writing, the dialog is snappy and sounded authentic to me.
Or do you think that lots of swear words automatically means that the
writing is poor?

Now it's your turn to attempt to justify your statements.

Personally, I think it deserved an Oscar. It was by far the best
American film I saw that year. So, why didn't it get it? Because it
was too artistic, and American audiences usually like their films to
tell their stories using more standard methods? Or because the subject
matter is capable of stirring up so many strong and often angry
feelings?

Now don't think that I'm supporting this film simply because I agree
with its message. Take another film, STRAIGHT OUT OF BROOKLYN. The
idea here is that whites are oppressing blacks, making an separate and
inferior world that is not worth living in. But you could legitimately
say of this movie that it was "primitive, dull, poorly-written, and of
minor appeal". A good theme does not make a good movie, no matter how
hard it tries.

>His stories are contrived. His characters are contrived.
>His camera angles are contrived.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Do you feel this way about Orson Welles too? Remember, Welles was
American director whose vast talent was squandered because his
storytelling techniques were so revolutionary that the public didn't
understand them. I'm thankful that this is not happening to Spike Lee.

-Myra
my...@saul.cis.upenn.edu

bar...@cod.nosc.mil

unread,
Nov 20, 1992, 5:46:08 PM11/20/92
to

>Or do you think that lots of swear words automatically means that the
>writing is poor?

Maybe not in this case, but is true in many other cases. It seems to me that many films are loaded with swear words not to relate any real emotion or a sense of reality, but rather to make people uneasy and therefore susceptible to cheap tricks and effects. Or to simply appeal to a younger crowd and make more money.

JDB

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 20, 1992, 10:25:38 AM11/20/92
to
i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:
|my...@saul.cis.upenn.edu (Myra VanInwegen) writes:
|> i...@cac.washington.edu writes:
|> >I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
|> >and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
|> >interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them.
|> > His movies incorporate a lot of very
|> >stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques.
|> You wouldn't have missed them despite their use of these uniquely
|> innovative techniques? Maybe your disagrement with the content is
|> blinding you to their artistic merit, which even you admit.

|Maybe I misstated my feelings. I don't feel like I really need to
|see his movies any more because they all tend to be about the same
|subject. It's this limited scope of subject matter that I have a
|problem with. For me, it gets old really fast. The innovative
|techniques are nice, but they should be used to enhance the movie
|rather than become the attraction in the movie, in my opinion.

I'd love to see you explain how _She's Got To Have It_ is "about the
same subject" as _Mo Better Blues_, _Do The Right Thing_, or _School
Daze_ or how any of those movies is about the same thing.

The only common thread is that there are Black people in the lead
roles. This does not make them the same.

|[descriptions of some of S. Lee's techniques deleted]
|> >It's also blatantly obvious that
|> >the movies were written and directed by a black person,
|> Am I supposed to think that there's something wrong with this?

|There's more to a person than his/her color. If he/she can't get beyond
|that, he/she is cheating him/herself as well as the world of lots of
|potential

And if critics cannot get beyond this then they are cheating
themselves of lots of potential.

|> >and I think there's a lot more to life than that.
|>
|> WHAT? Let's not just think of this movie, but consider American movies
|> as a whole. The vast majority of them are written and directed by
|> whites (specifically white males). And here's one, just one, that was
|> written and directed by a black guy, and you are faulting it for
|> showing this. I think there's alot more to life than just white folks
|> and white folks' concerns. Or are you suggesting that movies made by
|> white males are universal and cover all possible points of view, so we
|> don't need movies made by any other types of people?

|My problem is that his subject matter is always about racial conflicts/
|problems. There are many other stories to be told. As you said, there
|are countless white directors and writers, but very few of their movies
|are about the same subject. Their subject matters cover a much broader
|spectrum.

You're being narrow. Linking _School Daze_ to _Mo Better Blues_ or
_Jungle Fever_ is a huuuuge stretch.

|> > His movies reflect (and encourage) thinking in very limited terms.

|> I think just the opposite. These movies serve a very useful function
|> of exposing middle class whites (like myself) to points of view other
|> than the ones we meet in our day to day lives. And, in fact, these are
|> points of view that we as a nation will have to understand and do
|> something about. What were the LA riots other than the result of the
|> people in power in this nation ignoring exactly the problems presented
|> in this movie?

|That's view is a perfect valid one for anyone (including yourself) to
|hold. My point was just that if someone has a problem with Spike Lee's
|public image and stated opinions, there's a good chance that he/she
|would not like his movies. I base this conclusion on the fact that
|his movies are always about the one subject he has widely publicized
|and controversial opinions about.

Well, I think your conclusion is flawed for various reasons. Try
linking each of his known films:

1) She's Gotta Have It
2) School Daze
3) Do The Right Thing
4) Mo Better Blues
5) Jungle Fever
6) Malcolm X

I don't think it can be done. SGHI and MBB are hardly about racism in
any sense of the word, the former being about gender roles and the
latter about love in the mind of the self-centered individual and the
need to be immortal. SD perhaps but it's more of a discussion about
class struggle and a diatribe against organizations that subvert
individuality (using frats as an example). DTRT is about the ethnic
tensions that exist below the surface and can be brought to the
surface by forces beyond the control of those involved *and* about the
inevitability of occassional outbreaks *precisely* because the final
results of violence seem unlinked to the events that preceed them.

JF is about many things, family pride and racism being among them and
Malcolm X is simply about a man who was forged from his time and
transcended himself, a story of self-creation and continual
self-awareness.

Show me PLEASE how these are "about the same thing."

Il Hwan Oh

unread,
Nov 21, 1992, 2:06:57 AM11/21/92
to
isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:
>i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:
>|my...@saul.cis.upenn.edu (Myra VanInwegen) writes:
>|> i...@cac.washington.edu writes:
>|> >I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
>|> >and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
>|> >interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them.
>|> > His movies incorporate a lot of very
>|> >stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques.
>|> You wouldn't have missed them despite their use of these uniquely
>|> innovative techniques? Maybe your disagrement with the content is
>|> blinding you to their artistic merit, which even you admit.
>
>|Maybe I misstated my feelings. I don't feel like I really need to
>|see his movies any more because they all tend to be about the same
>|subject. It's this limited scope of subject matter that I have a
>|problem with. For me, it gets old really fast. The innovative
>|techniques are nice, but they should be used to enhance the movie
>|rather than become the attraction in the movie, in my opinion.
>
>I'd love to see you explain how _She's Got To Have It_ is "about the
>same subject" as _Mo Better Blues_, _Do The Right Thing_, or _School
>Daze_ or how any of those movies is about the same thing.

I listed the Spike Lee movies I've seen. You list 2 others I have not
seen. As for MBB and DTRT, I'll admit that MBB was different from the
other 2 I've seen, but it was still not to my liking. In my opinion,
he doesn't use his techniques very well in his movies. In fact, I
think they distract me from the plot itself. I thought I was very
careful to state that these were just my opinions on movies made
by one particular director, but I guess it wasn't clear enough. I
don't think that I made any objective critiques of his movies. The
only objective statement I've made was that he uses innovative
techniques. Gee, I never thought I'd be crucified for saying I
didn't like any one particular movie (or three).

>The only common thread is that there are Black people in the lead
>roles. This does not make them the same.

I didn't say that they were the same, but that they were about the
same subject. You helped me discover my error WRT _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
but there is a recurring theme in his movies. Furthermore, This
particular recurring theme does not hold any particular attraction
for me that I should keep going back for more. This is, of course,
just personal opinion. I'm sure there are movies I like that you
(and many others) don't, but it's a free country.

>|[descriptions of some of S. Lee's techniques deleted]
>|> >It's also blatantly obvious that
>|> >the movies were written and directed by a black person,
>|> Am I supposed to think that there's something wrong with this?
>
>|There's more to a person than his/her color. If he/she can't get beyond
>|that, he/she is cheating him/herself as well as the world of lots of
>|potential
>
>And if critics cannot get beyond this then they are cheating
>themselves of lots of potential.

You can't possibly begin to imagine how little what critics think matters
to me.

>|My problem is that his subject matter is always about racial conflicts/
>|problems. There are many other stories to be told. As you said, there
>|are countless white directors and writers, but very few of their movies
>|are about the same subject. Their subject matters cover a much broader
>|spectrum.
>
>You're being narrow. Linking _School Daze_ to _Mo Better Blues_ or
>_Jungle Fever_ is a huuuuge stretch.

Whatever. I never saw SD, didn't care very much for MBB, and even
less for JF.

>Show me PLEASE how these are "about the same thing."

I've seen 3 of his films: _Do the Right Thing_, _Mo' Better Blues_,
and _Jungle Fever_. I observed what I thought was a repeated
underlying theme in both DTRT and JF (one I don't care all that much
about). Different strokes for different folks.

I've admitted I had a memory lapse about the contents of MBB.
In fact, I do remember thinking that I'd have really liked MBB if
someone else had directed it. Those innovative techniques I admire
so much were distracting for me.

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 22, 1992, 6:24:48 AM11/22/92
to

No one is crucifying you; however, your quotes are above. What you
said is that his movies "tend to be about the same thing." Even for
the two movies, you cite: _DTRT_ and _JF_ this is simply untrue.

Notice I never once say "his movies are great, you have no taste";
rather, I take exception to the notion that you advance here:

"I don't feel like I really need to see his movies any more because
they all tend to be about the same subject. It's this limited scope
of subject matter that I have a problem with. For me, it gets old
really fast."

I claim that this assertion is simply incorrect. Can you link even
the three films that you cite? I'd like to see it. As I noted
before:

|>The only common thread is that there are Black people in the lead
|>roles. This does not make them the same.

To which you replied:

|I didn't say that they were the same, but that they were about the
|same subject. You helped me discover my error WRT _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
|but there is a recurring theme in his movies. Furthermore, This
|particular recurring theme does not hold any particular attraction
|for me that I should keep going back for more. This is, of course,
|just personal opinion. I'm sure there are movies I like that you
|(and many others) don't, but it's a free country.

*What* really is the "recurring theme"? What is the subject? Are you
promoting subthemes to the focus of the films? Are _Ghost_ and
_Defending Your Life_ "about the same thing"?

|>|[descriptions of some of S. Lee's techniques deleted]
|>|> >It's also blatantly obvious that
|>|> >the movies were written and directed by a black person,
|>|> Am I supposed to think that there's something wrong with this?
|>
|>|There's more to a person than his/her color. If he/she can't get beyond
|>|that, he/she is cheating him/herself as well as the world of lots of
|>|potential
|>
|>And if critics cannot get beyond this then they are cheating
|>themselves of lots of potential.

|You can't possibly begin to imagine how little what critics think matters
|to me.

I'm sure I can; however, you miss the point. Let us take a different
tack: how is it "blatantly obvious that the movies were written by a
Black person"? What does this mean? And is it a bad thing? Is it
ever "blatantly obvious" that a film is made by a White person?

I can think of lots of times when I've thought so, but it's never been
a big issue.

|>|My problem is that his subject matter is always about racial conflicts/
|>|problems. There are many other stories to be told. As you said, there
|>|are countless white directors and writers, but very few of their movies
|>|are about the same subject. Their subject matters cover a much broader
|>|spectrum.
|>
|>You're being narrow. Linking _School Daze_ to _Mo Better Blues_ or
|>_Jungle Fever_ is a huuuuge stretch.

|Whatever. I never saw SD, didn't care very much for MBB, and even
|less for JF.

|>Show me PLEASE how these are "about the same thing."

|I've seen 3 of his films: _Do the Right Thing_, _Mo' Better Blues_,
|and _Jungle Fever_. I observed what I thought was a repeated
|underlying theme in both DTRT and JF (one I don't care all that much
|about). Different strokes for different folks.

What is this theme? How is it manifested? Are these deep plot
elements or incidental to the character studies?

|I've admitted I had a memory lapse about the contents of MBB.
|In fact, I do remember thinking that I'd have really liked MBB if
|someone else had directed it. Those innovative techniques I admire
|so much were distracting for me.

If you say so. Still, you aren't discussing what I'm discussing. It
seems to me that you have two basic themes:

1) Spike Lee's movies "tend to be about the same thing."

I consider this untrue and obviously untrue. Further I think I have
demonstrated this. In fact, even for the limited number of films
which you've seen, I think I've demonstrated this. You on the other
hand have not even begun to substantiate your position. At the level
of assertion, I think your claim to be as valid as saying that "Ghost"
and "Casablanca" tended to be about the same thing because they both
involved love stories.

2) You do not like Spike's "innovative techniques" in that they become
the focus of the film (mainly because of 1).

Well, this is an opinion. I have not addressed this claim because of
this, even though I would be interested in your critque of them and
how they've detracted from his films. For example, what techniques of
his doomed _MBB_ for you?


No one is crucifying you and I'd love to see how one would infer that
from my posts. I simply noted my disagreement with what seems to me
to be an obviously untrue characterization of Spike Lee's films,
namely that they "tend to be about the same thing." I cannot see
this. Do you wish to expand your assertion?

Finally, if you decide that 1) isn't true, how does this affect your
opinion of his films?

--
Peace.
"You get your freedom by letting your enemy know
that you'll do anything to get your freedom; then
you'll get it. It's the only way you'll get it."
-- Malcolm X

James D. Oliver III

unread,
Nov 23, 1992, 12:38:49 AM11/23/92
to
In article <1ed5rl...@seven-up.East.Sun.COM> jon...@heretix.East.Sun.COM (John O'Neil - SunExpress IR) wrote:
> i have never seen any spike lee movies, but i understand he has a problem with
> larry bird and the celtics. i read a interview where he states he hopes the red sox and the
> celtics never will another game. does anyone know any more info on this, just what is this
> guy's problem.

I guess that I and a lot of other folks have the same "problem", then.

And I love it when people start out with "I've never seen any of his
movies, but . . ." Adds real credibility to the rest of your post.
--
____________________________
Jim Oliver
oli...@athena.mit.edu / jol...@hstbme.mit.edu
oliver%mitwccf...@MITVMA.MIT.EDU

Matthew Melmon

unread,
Nov 23, 1992, 1:43:18 PM11/23/92
to

Sean D. O'Neil

unread,
Nov 23, 1992, 5:51:56 PM11/23/92
to
In article <1992Nov18.2...@u.washington.edu> i...@cac.washington.edu writes:
>rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:
>
>> By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
>> Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
>> whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
>> don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
>> films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
>> his films.
>
>I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
>and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
>interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them. I watch
>a lot of movies and will probably see _Malcom_X_ eventually, but I
>won't go out of my way to see it.
>
>If you don't agree Spike Lee's public opinions, chances are fairly good
>that you won't like his movies.

I disagree. I too have seen many of Spike Lee's movies, and I disagree
with his personal opinions on many things (e.g., I am a Celtics
fan, and I think Spike was too quick to cry racism over his not winning
at Cannes). However I think he is one of the most outstanding and
distinctive filmakers today. Why do I think that? Because I have never
seen a false character or stereotype in a Spike Lee movie. Perhaps you
disagree with the situations that Spike explores in his films, but he gives
a perspective that is distinct from the same old that most of Hollywood,
however enlightened or well-intentioned, gives us. And it's not just
this perspective--consider the movie _Boyz_N_The_Hood_. It was an
auspicious debut by John Singleton, and it was a good movie, but Spike
could have made that same movie ten times better, I am convinced.

>His movies incorporate a lot of very

>stylistic elements and uniquely innovative techniques. I could really
>get into them if it weren't for his in-your-face, shove-it-down-your-throat
>style of preaching in these movies.

Again, I disagree. Spike is never black and white, and I am constantly
amazed at how balanced his treatment of various subjects is.

>It's also blatantly obvious that

>the movies were written and directed by a black person, and I think
>there's a lot more to life than that. His movies reflect (and encourage)


>thinking in very limited terms.

This last statement leaves me speechless. I am white, I grew up
exclusively among whites, and yet it seems crystal clear to me that
99% of what we see in movies is presented from a fundamentally white
perspective. I'm not preaching against this--it's just the way
things are given the background of the people in Hollywood, most
of whom are well-meaning, I don't doubt. But I am amazed that you could
level this charge against Spike Lee and not pause to reflect for
a second about how we accept certain perspectives as the "natural"
ones just because they predominate.

Sean

Adam Lawrence Salter

unread,
Nov 23, 1992, 5:22:48 PM11/23/92
to
In article <75...@hydra.gatech.EDU>,

gt9...@prism.gatech.EDU (Christopher R. Boggs) writes:

What? You think he's an "uppity nigger" spreading unrest and dissension
among the "good niggers"? ;->

Paraphrased from "The Autobiography of Malcom X"


adam

Il Hwan Oh

unread,
Nov 23, 1992, 11:20:56 PM11/23/92
to
Let's start trimming this a bit.

isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:
>i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:

>No one is crucifying you; however, your quotes are above. What you
>said is that his movies "tend to be about the same thing." Even for
>the two movies, you cite: _DTRT_ and _JF_ this is simply untrue.

In the broadest sense, it is true. They are both about interactions
between blacks and whites in an urban setting. They both ended up
in violent climaxes.

>|I didn't say that they were the same, but that they were about the
>|same subject. You helped me discover my error WRT _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
>|but there is a recurring theme in his movies. Furthermore, This
>|particular recurring theme does not hold any particular attraction
>|for me that I should keep going back for more. This is, of course,
>|just personal opinion. I'm sure there are movies I like that you
>|(and many others) don't, but it's a free country.
>
>*What* really is the "recurring theme"? What is the subject? Are you
>promoting subthemes to the focus of the films? Are _Ghost_ and
>_Defending Your Life_ "about the same thing"?

Like I said, in the broadest sense, they are about the same thing. If
you (or I) had a major problems with exploring what happens after death,
it would not unreasonable to group the films together and express
distaste the entire group along with others that fall within the confines
of it.

>I'm sure I can; however, you miss the point. Let us take a different
>tack: how is it "blatantly obvious that the movies were written by a
>Black person"? What does this mean? And is it a bad thing? Is it
>ever "blatantly obvious" that a film is made by a White person?

It is blatantly obvious that Lee's movies were written by a Black
person for similar reasons that old Westerns were written by White
people. The White people in his movies seem to be caricatures to
me. They seem to lack depth only exist to provide conflict for the
various Black characters.

>If you say so. Still, you aren't discussing what I'm discussing. It
>seems to me that you have two basic themes:
>
>1) Spike Lee's movies "tend to be about the same thing."

I think I've addressed this above.

>2) You do not like Spike's "innovative techniques" in that they become
>the focus of the film (mainly because of 1).

Actually, it's not mainly because of 1. It's a separate issue that I
interjected late in the discussion to clarify what bothered me about
MBB.

>Well, this is an opinion. I have not addressed this claim because of
>this, even though I would be interested in your critque of them and
>how they've detracted from his films. For example, what techniques of
>his doomed _MBB_ for you?

It's been a long time since I've seen it, but one thing does stick in
my mind. The love scene with the spinning background, giving it a
merry-go-around effect, seemed an inappropriate use of that particular
technique to me. There were others that I do not recall.

Let me restate that I believe that I think Spike Lee uses some very
innovative techniques and brings a refreshing look to movies. I'm
certain that when he gets older, and has had time to work off some of
his (in my opinion, harmful) energy, he'll make movies that I'll be

guti...@mdcbbs.com

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 2:17:22 AM11/24/92
to
In article <1992Nov23.2...@linus.mitre.org>, s...@lossage.mitre.org (Sean D. O'Neil) writes:
> In article <1992Nov18.2...@u.washington.edu> i...@cac.washington.edu writes:
>>rei...@ficus.cs.ucla.edu (Peter Reiher) writes:
>>
>>> By the way, if people are skipping his films because they don't like
>>> Lee personally, you are missing some very good films. Regardless of
>>> whether you agree with him, Lee is a talented filmmaker whose films
>>> don't resemble anyone else's. There is strong artistic merit in Lee's
>>> films, and those serious about film are making a mistake if they skip
>>> his films.
>>
>> -Peter Reiher-

>>
>>
>>I've seen a few of his films (_Do_The_Right_Thing_, _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
>>and _Jungle_Fever_) and have to disagree with you. While they were
>>interesting to watch, I wouldn't have minded missing them. I watch
>>a lot of movies and will probably see _Malcom_X_ eventually, but I
>>won't go out of my way to see it.
>>
>>It's also blatantly obvious that
>>the movies were written and directed by a black person, and I think
>>there's a lot more to life than that. His movies reflect (and encourage)
>>thinking in very limited terms.
>
> -Il Hwan Oh-

>
>
> This last statement leaves me speechless. I am white, I grew up
> exclusively among whites, and yet it seems crystal clear to me that
> 99% of what we see in movies is presented from a fundamentally white
> perspective. I'm not preaching against this--it's just the way
> things are given the background of the people in Hollywood, most
> of whom are well-meaning, I don't doubt. But I am amazed that you could
> level this charge against Spike Lee and not pause to reflect for
> a second about how we accept certain perspectives as the "natural"
> ones just because they predominate.
>
> Sean


Well said, Peter & Sean! To Il Hwan, may I suggest that for
3 hours and 25 minutes, please forget that Spike Lee is a
black director and just watch _Malcolm X_? If you do, you'll
be surprised! In fact, you may actually enjoy it! Can you
at least try watching it before "bashing" it?

Il Hwan Oh

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 1:15:27 PM11/24/92
to
guti...@mdcbbs.com writes:

> Well said, Peter & Sean! To Il Hwan, may I suggest that for
> 3 hours and 25 minutes, please forget that Spike Lee is a
> black director and just watch _Malcolm X_? If you do, you'll
> be surprised! In fact, you may actually enjoy it! Can you
> at least try watching it before "bashing" it?

I didn't realize we were talking about _Malcolm X_. To that, let me
just say, "WHAT?!! 3 hours and 25 minutes? I'll definitely wait for
the video."

Seriously, I don't really have a problem with Black directors. I enjoy
Robert Townsend's movies very much. I simply have a problem with Spike
Lee's movies.

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 6:47:23 AM11/24/92
to
i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:
|isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:
|>i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:

|>No one is crucifying you; however, your quotes are above. What you
|>said is that his movies "tend to be about the same thing." Even for
|>the two movies, you cite: _DTRT_ and _JF_ this is simply untrue.

|In the broadest sense, it is true. They are both about interactions
|between blacks and whites in an urban setting. They both ended up
|in violent climaxes.

I think this is so broad as to be meaningless. I can then lump
several hundred thousand films under the description "they are all
about interactions between Whites in an city setting and end with the
protaganist defeating the antagonist and getting the girl."

Do you really want to do this? I can lump even more under the
description "love story" or "good vs evil" or anything else, but I
haven't described much more than I would by having said "story."

And of course, it still loses to the larger point which is that--even
in your overbroad description--you have not described _School Daze_,
_Mo Better Blues_ or _She's Gotta Have It_.

Given this, do you concede the point that Spike Lee's films are *not*
"all about the same thing"? How can you escape this conclusion?

|>|I didn't say that they were the same, but that they were about the
|>|same subject. You helped me discover my error WRT _Mo'_Better_Blues_,
|>|but there is a recurring theme in his movies. Furthermore, This
|>|particular recurring theme does not hold any particular attraction
|>|for me that I should keep going back for more. This is, of course,
|>|just personal opinion. I'm sure there are movies I like that you
|>|(and many others) don't, but it's a free country.
|>
|>*What* really is the "recurring theme"? What is the subject? Are you
|>promoting subthemes to the focus of the films? Are _Ghost_ and
|>_Defending Your Life_ "about the same thing"?

|Like I said, in the broadest sense, they are about the same thing. If
|you (or I) had a major problems with exploring what happens after death,
|it would not unreasonable to group the films together and express
|distaste the entire group along with others that fall within the confines
|of it.

Well, it would not be unreasonable, but it would be useless. The
films are too different to be lumped together in this way. In fact, a
critc might start from this similarity to highlight their differences.
Would you lump _Aliens_ with _ET_ because they deal with aliens?

I wouldn't. Doesn't that seem pointless?

Do you really feel that _JF_ and _DTRT_ are that similar?


By the way, are you then saying that you just don't like films that
revolve around Black Americans in urban settings?

|>I'm sure I can; however, you miss the point. Let us take a different
|>tack: how is it "blatantly obvious that the movies were written by a
|>Black person"? What does this mean? And is it a bad thing? Is it
|>ever "blatantly obvious" that a film is made by a White person?

|It is blatantly obvious that Lee's movies were written by a Black
|person for similar reasons that old Westerns were written by White
|people. The White people in his movies seem to be caricatures to
|me. They seem to lack depth only exist to provide conflict for the
|various Black characters.

I think you underestimate Sal and Angie and Sal's youngest son and all
the rest. They aren't charicatures. They *are* complex representations
of real people.

I don't want to insult you, but I think you're being very, very narrow
in discussing Spike Lee's films. Making broad statements about his
films like "they're all about the same thing" while ignoring _SD_ and
_SGHI_ (is _Ghost_ now equal to _The Rapture_?) seems disingenious at
best.

Intelligent people can agree to disagree about things like camera
angles (they got on my nerves in Cape Fear), but it seems difficult
for me to accept that you can honestly say that his films are all
alike.

--
Peace.
"Japan is an important ally of ours. Japan and the United States of
the Western industrialized capacity, 60 percent of the GNP,
two countries. That's a statement in and of itself."
-- Vice President Dan Quayle

Il Hwan Oh

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 3:12:49 PM11/24/92
to
isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:
> i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:

> |In the broadest sense, it is true. They are both about interactions
> |between blacks and whites in an urban setting. They both ended up
> |in violent climaxes.

> I think this is so broad as to be meaningless. I can then lump
> several hundred thousand films under the description "they are all
> about interactions between Whites in an city setting and end with the
> protaganist defeating the antagonist and getting the girl."

I don't know about several hundred thousand, but there are a great
many films that could fall under that description. I don't think
it is meaningless. Ockham's razor, you know.


> And of course, it still loses to the larger point which is that--even
> in your overbroad description--you have not described _School Daze_,
> _Mo Better Blues_ or _She's Gotta Have It_.

I haven't seen SD or SGHI. I've admitted that MBB is different from
DTRT and JF and what I think of it.

> Do you really feel that _JF_ and _DTRT_ are that similar?

Yes.

> By the way, are you then saying that you just don't like films that
> revolve around Black Americans in urban settings?

No. I just don't like films that revolve around Black Americans in
urban settings made by Spike Lee.

> Intelligent people can agree to disagree about things like camera
> angles (they got on my nerves in Cape Fear), but it seems difficult
> for me to accept that you can honestly say that his films are all
> alike.

I think the discussion is getting repetitive and nonproductive. Let's
just agree to disagree about the whole thing. Afterall, I don't have
a problem with people (even my close friends) disliking my favorite
movies (and many do) and my favorite directors.

Neal and Mara Priestly

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 5:00:51 PM11/24/92
to
In article <ISBELL.92N...@panther.ai.mit.edu> isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:

[a few layers of quotes saying Spike's a racist/no he's not]

>
>This seems strange to me. What seems to irritate people the most is
>that he makes films about Black America without reference to White

>America (most notably in Mo Better Blues, She's Gotta Have It and
>School Daze).
^^^^^^^^^^^ Nit: There were a few scenes in this film which were
undeniably concerned with Black youth identifining
themselves in terms of White America. The 'wannabes'
spring immediately to mind.

> So what? Since Black Americans have lives and
>experiences without reference to White America, this would seem
>appropriate.

It's kinda hard, White American holding the plurality and all, not to have
any reference at all to White America...for anyone. Just turn on the Thought
Vampire...

>One could contrast this to films like _A Dry White
>Season_ which while taking place in South Africa or whatever are
>really stories about White people who are dealing with the suffering
>of surrounding Black people and feeling angst or rigtheous indignation
>about it. Similarly, _Mississippi Burning_ is one of these films. To
>misquote someone else, these films "are so obviously made by a [White]
>person."

Can't argue with that. Though he can come of as a 'stereotypical angry
young black man' (please, note the quotes and spare the flames...this
is a very real perception of Spike voiced by many of my patrons.) it
is refreshing to see the issues presented from his perspective, one
not convincingly delivered by anyone who has not walked a mile in that
pair of shoes...

>One of his skills as a storyteller, in my opinion, is his ability to
>present an even-handed set of events, allowing the actors and the
>audience to extract their own meanings (this is most obvious in _Do
>The Right Thing_ and _Jungle Fever_). As such, I'd appreciate a
>further explanation of examples where Spike Lee uses his movies to
>"push his opinions down [one's] throat". Can you think of any
>examples, really?
>
>I can't. Even when one character pushes an opinion another disputes
>it in some way. I take as empirical evidence of this the widely
>differing interpretations of posters of r.a.m. after _DTRT_ in
>particular and many of his other films in general.

But you can tell which view Spike would rather you hold. But any honest
person has to give him credit for bringing forth complex and multi-
faceted issues in the manner he does. I've seen bigger names go for the
easier outs.

>I think Spike Lee is right: many of his critics do not have opinions
>on his films, they have opinions on HIM. I find this somewhat lame
>and even disingenious.

He does seem to go out of his way some days to paint that bullseye on his
forehead. He is more flamboyant (and therefore easier flame bait) than
most of the stuffed shirts that review movies expect in a director of
films that controversial. I think somedays that they wonder what made
this upstart kid think he could tackle THE ISSUES OF THE DAY (usually
in 32pt for the print media) before making one or two films that sold
out to commercialism first...

>But perhaps I am wrong. Anyone care to present some examples from his
>films without dengenerating into a commentary on his bsketball
>preferences?
>
>BTW, _Malcolm X_ is an excellent film.

Agree. This should get Denzel Washington his second Academy, and Spike
should get a nomination. There were a few pacing flaws (IMHO) and a
weak point or two but on the whole, significantly better than most of
the years offerings so far.
--
a0s...@titan.ucc.umass.edu is usually Neal Priestly who speaks neither
for his employer nor the University as a whole nor for any part thereof.

'The young horse runs fast/but the old horse knows the way'-Uncle Wildcat

Matthew Melmon

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 4:45:11 PM11/24/92
to
In article <ISBELL.92N...@panther.ai.mit.edu>, isb...@ai.mit.edu
(Charles L Isbell) wrote:

> I think you underestimate Sal and Angie and Sal's youngest son and all

> the rest. They aren't caricatures. They *are* complex representations
> of real people.

I know that the first thing *this* Evil White Boy would do, when
confronted by a large black man, with a loud radio, in my pizza joint
in Brooklyn is smash the radio to bits. Damn straight, I would.
Yup. Don't let nobody tell you I'd just do it to put a big finish
on a movie. No sir. That's how we Evil White Boys operate. Mr.
Lee's ability to capture this intricate, subtle nuance of our
character defies description. To call it profound is not to do
it justice.

Robert E Weidner

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 9:52:12 PM11/24/92
to
In article <mattm-241...@mcmelmon.apple.com>, ma...@apple.com

Excuse me, I hate to interject, but I don't believe that I saw anything in
Do the Right Thing which would indicate that the actions of specific white
characters represented the actions of all white people. I thought the actions
of the characters were consistent with the presentation of their personalities
and reactions to stimulus. I never got the feeling that Spike Lee was saying I
personally would react in the same way. (I can't speak for Mr. Melmon.)

I support Mr. Isbell's assertion that the characters in Do the Right Thing are
"complex representations of real people." To take this statement and assume
a broad generality for an entire race is ludicrous.

I know a lot of people who thought this movie was racist against whites, but
none of their arguments have held up under scrutiny. The funny thing is, most
of these people have never questioned the portrayals of blacks in other movies.
Seems like they buy the actions of characters like the "I just gots ta know"
bank robber in Dirty Harry as true representations of their race.


Rob Weidner

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 7:27:58 PM11/24/92
to
a0s...@titan.ucc.umass.edu (Neal and Mara Priestly) writes:
|isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:
|[a few layers of quotes saying Spike's a racist/no he's not]
|>This seems strange to me. What seems to irritate people the most is
|>that he makes films about Black America without reference to White
|>America (most notably in Mo Better Blues, She's Gotta Have It and
|>School Daze).
| ^^^^^^^^^^^ Nit: There were a few scenes in this film which were
undeniably concerned with Black youth identifining
themselves in terms of White America. The 'wannabes'
spring immediately to mind.

This isn't what I meant. What I meant was that these are stories that
involve Black people, Black people interacting and Black culture
without inserting White people all around.

|> So what? Since Black Americans have lives and
|>experiences without reference to White America, this would seem
|>appropriate.

|It's kinda hard, White American holding the plurality and all, not to have
|any reference at all to White America...for anyone. Just turn on the Thought
|Vampire...

Again, I'm speaking of a subtly different thing than I think you are,
but whatever.

[...]


|>One of his skills as a storyteller, in my opinion, is his ability to
|>present an even-handed set of events, allowing the actors and the
|>audience to extract their own meanings (this is most obvious in _Do
|>The Right Thing_ and _Jungle Fever_). As such, I'd appreciate a
|>further explanation of examples where Spike Lee uses his movies to
|>"push his opinions down [one's] throat". Can you think of any
|>examples, really?
|>
|>I can't. Even when one character pushes an opinion another disputes
|>it in some way. I take as empirical evidence of this the widely
|>differing interpretations of posters of r.a.m. after _DTRT_ in
|>particular and many of his other films in general.

|But you can tell which view Spike would rather you hold. But any honest
|person has to give him credit for bringing forth complex and multi-
|faceted issues in the manner he does. I've seen bigger names go for the
|easier outs.

I don't know. I think, by knowing Spike Lee, I can guess what view he
wants me to hold, but I'm unsure whether someone who has no idea who
he is (and can therefore seperate him/herself from the context of
Spike Lee, the man) would be able to.... In any case, he does a
pretty good job of presenting complex issues and characters.

|>I think Spike Lee is right: many of his critics do not have opinions
|>on his films, they have opinions on HIM. I find this somewhat lame
|>and even disingenious.

|He does seem to go out of his way some days to paint that bullseye on his
|forehead. He is more flamboyant (and therefore easier flame bait) than
|most of the stuffed shirts that review movies expect in a director of
|films that controversial. I think somedays that they wonder what made
|this upstart kid think he could tackle THE ISSUES OF THE DAY (usually
|in 32pt for the print media) before making one or two films that sold
|out to commercialism first...

Maybe.

|>But perhaps I am wrong. Anyone care to present some examples from his
|>films without dengenerating into a commentary on his bsketball
|>preferences?
|>
|>BTW, _Malcolm X_ is an excellent film.

|Agree. This should get Denzel Washington his second Academy, and Spike
|should get a nomination. There were a few pacing flaws (IMHO) and a
|weak point or two but on the whole, significantly better than most of
|the years offerings so far.

I'd also give one to Al Freeman, Jr.... I'm not sure about Angela
Bassett, but I can't think of any other strong female leads this year
worthy of a nominaton (uh oh, this sounds like an invitation for a
list), so maybe I would.

--
Peace.
"If something is yours by right,
then fight for it or shut up."

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 24, 1992, 7:55:18 PM11/24/92
to
i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:
|isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:
|> i...@bambam.u.washington.edu (Il Hwan Oh) writes:
|> |In the broadest sense, it is true. They are both about interactions
|> |between blacks and whites in an urban setting. They both ended up
|> |in violent climaxes.

|> I think this is so broad as to be meaningless. I can then lump
|> several hundred thousand films under the description "they are all
|> about interactions between Whites in an city setting and end with the
|> protaganist defeating the antagonist and getting the girl."

|I don't know about several hundred thousand, but there are a great
|many films that could fall under that description. I don't think
|it is meaningless. Ockham's razor, you know.

By the way, _Jungle Fever_ didn't have a violent climax to its plot.

|> And of course, it still loses to the larger point which is that--even
|> in your overbroad description--you have not described _School Daze_,
|> _Mo Better Blues_ or _She's Gotta Have It_.

|I haven't seen SD or SGHI. I've admitted that MBB is different from
|DTRT and JF and what I think of it.

Fine, then you do retract your statement about Lee's films "being
about the same thing" so I guess this subthread has reached a
conclusion....

|> Do you really feel that _JF_ and _DTRT_ are that similar?
|Yes.

I'm curious, really, *how*? They were about very different things and
very different sets of people. JF was much more like _Mo Better
Blues_ in tems of its focus than _Do The Right Thing_, in fact.
Expand on this assertion, if you will.

|> By the way, are you then saying that you just don't like films that
|> revolve around Black Americans in urban settings?
|No. I just don't like films that revolve around Black Americans in
|urban settings made by Spike Lee.

Hmmmmm.

|> Intelligent people can agree to disagree about things like camera
|> angles (they got on my nerves in Cape Fear), but it seems difficult
|> for me to accept that you can honestly say that his films are all
|> alike.

|I think the discussion is getting repetitive and nonproductive. Let's
|just agree to disagree about the whole thing. Afterall, I don't have
|a problem with people (even my close friends) disliking my favorite
|movies (and many do) and my favorite directors.

I'm not sure what this has to do with anything. We've really been
discussing something ("sameness") which is a bit easier to discuss
objectively than what you're talking about immediately above ("liking
a film"). In short, I don't care that you like or dislike Spike Lee
films, I'm only interested in your assertion about the "sameness" of
those films. So what was the same about _Jungle Fever_ and _Do The
Right Thing_?

--
Peace.
"If something is yours by right,
then fight for it or shut up."

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 25, 1992, 4:15:04 AM11/25/92
to

Actually, this was not the first time. This was the second that we
saw and, in fact, anyone with an active brain cell could tell that
this sort of confrontation went on all the time, probably on a
near-daily basis. Given Sal's temper, fleshed out and developed over
two hours, it is not a surprising that this happened eventually.

While I appreciate sarcasm as well as the next person, I must admit
being disappointed with your attempt as it misses the point entirely.
To wit: Sal was a complex and real person, but by no means meant to
be the be-all and end-all of "Evil White Boys."

One of the interesting things that Spike Lee--the stroyteller--did in
this film was to convey the notion that these minor confrontations
went on all the time, but never really amounted to much. Buggin' Out
and Sal had run-ins all the time ("You come in here everyday..."), for
example. With this in mind, the story becomes even more pointed once
you realize that none of the events depicted therein were inevitable.
At any point in the day, things might have gone the other way. If Sal
hadn't been in a particularly bad mood and gone at Buggin' Out with a
bat, Buggin' might have never gotten upset and so on. This lack of
inevitability is uncomfortable becuase it underscores the notion that
these sorts of explosions are just waiting to happen and, once they
do, it's hard to figure out why....
--
Peace.
"My opinions may have changed,
but not the fact that I am right."

Sean D. O'Neil

unread,
Nov 25, 1992, 9:17:06 AM11/25/92
to

My impression is that bad writers for a time could use swear words for
their shock effect, but that effect has now largely disappeared.
While we're on the subject of swearing, few writers cram as much
profanity into their dialog as David Mamet, yet his writing is
uniformly some of the best you`ll hear in the movies. Think of the
dialog between Joe Mantegna and his partner while riding in the cop
car in "Homicide". It seemed like every other word was some variation
of "fuck". And yet it was plain good writing all the same.

Sean

marc.colten

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Nov 25, 1992, 10:56:17 AM11/25/92
to

I was very disappointed in DTRT - not just because of any artistic
considerations, but because I think he seemed to think his audience
was stupid. Here are a few things I noticed that we weren't
supposed to see as bizarre:

1) He included incidents with people venting their hate directly
into the screen - I really thought that went out with Elmer Rice.

2) The character of "Radio Raheem" (sp?) - he stalked through the
movie - a big, ugly, menacing presence, insulting people,
using obscenities against the Korean grocers and scaring the
crap out of everyone, white and black and asian. I didn't see
anyone even act like they liked him. At the end he's killed
by the police and the guy on the radio is eulogizing him as
"We're gonna miss you, man". Yeah, right - probably the first
night's rest anyones gotten without worrying about his boom box.
I found it hard to believe than any character in that movie would
shed a tear for the guy and most would be glad he's gone.

3) Spike Lee's character, at a critical moment, starts a riot that
destroys the neighborhood and the store where he's worked for
a while. Then he comes back and asks for his *PAY*? Does the
phrase - "Yeah, I got your pay right here." sound familiar?

All in all I found it a very poorly done movie and hardly worth any
praise at all.

marc colten

Matthew Melmon

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Nov 25, 1992, 12:27:46 PM11/25/92
to
In article <90Os02w...@JUTS.ccc.amdahl.com>,

re...@vertigo.cd.amdahl.com (Robert E Weidner) wrote:

> I thought the actions of the characters were consistent with the
> presentation of their personalities and reactions to stimulus.
> I never got the feeling that Spike Lee was saying I personally would
> react in the same way.

And I thought the ending was absurd. I could not believe that the
character would smash up the radio - even if he *weren't* in the
middle of Brooklyn. It was, to me, a contrivance to finish the damn
movie with something that would 'make waves.'

> I know a lot of people who thought this movie was racist against
> whites, but none of their arguments have held up under scrutiny.

I suspect that whether or not an argument holds up under scrutiny
is the subjective opinion of the people having the argument. But
I, personally, can't see getting too worked up about DTRT as
'racist.'

My beef with the thing is that it's 'faux artsy.'

Again: contrived characters, contrived story, and contrived camera
work.

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 25, 1992, 8:51:16 AM11/25/92
to
col...@cbnewsb.cb.att.com (marc.colten) writes:
|I was very disappointed in DTRT - not just because of any artistic
|considerations, but because I think he seemed to think his audience
|was stupid. Here are a few things I noticed that we weren't
|supposed to see as bizarre:

|1) He included incidents with people venting their hate directly
| into the screen - I really thought that went out with Elmer Rice.

Okay. I liked this. Different strokes.

|2) The character of "Radio Raheem" (sp?) - he stalked through the
| movie - a big, ugly, menacing presence, insulting people,
| using obscenities against the Korean grocers and scaring the
| crap out of everyone, white and black and asian. I didn't see
| anyone even act like they liked him. At the end he's killed
| by the police and the guy on the radio is eulogizing him as
| "We're gonna miss you, man". Yeah, right - probably the first
| night's rest anyones gotten without worrying about his boom box.
| I found it hard to believe than any character in that movie would
| shed a tear for the guy and most would be glad he's gone.

It was obvious he was liked--and mroe to the point, respected--by the
neighborhood folx from the first scene. While you may not have liked
him, I think it was pretty clear that we was resepcted and liked (I
mean, you could hear folx in the background saying "Radio!" "Wassup,
Raheem?!" all the time) by the people int he neighborhood.

|3) Spike Lee's character, at a critical moment, starts a riot that
| destroys the neighborhood and the store where he's worked for
| a while. Then he comes back and asks for his *PAY*? Does the
| phrase - "Yeah, I got your pay right here." sound familiar?

That was entirely within Mookie's character. We all knew he was
irresponsible.

|All in all I found it a very poorly done movie and hardly worth any
|praise at all.

While I can get this from 1), all 2) & 3) say is that you didn't like
some of the prinicpal characters which doesn't really say much about
the movie one way or the other, does it?


--
Peace.
"If George Washington didn't get independence for this country
nonviolently, and if Patrick Henry didn't come up with a
nonviolent statement, and you taught me to look up to them as
patriots and heroes, then it's time for you to realize that I've
learned your books well."
- Malcolm X

marc.colten

unread,
Nov 25, 1992, 3:14:08 PM11/25/92
to
In article <ISBELL.92N...@panther.ai.mit.edu>, isb...@ai.mit.edu (Charles L Isbell) writes:
> col...@cbnewsb.cb.att.com (marc.colten) writes:
> |I was very disappointed in DTRT - not just because of any artistic
> |considerations, but because I think he seemed to think his audience
> |was stupid. Here are a few things I noticed that we weren't
> |supposed to see as bizarre:
>
> |1) He included incidents with people venting their hate directly
> | into the screen - I really thought that went out with Elmer Rice.
>
> Okay. I liked this. Different strokes.
>

Fair enough. My point was it was (to my view) a crude form of
filmaking. He was telling, not showing.

> |2) The character of "Radio Raheem" (sp?) - he stalked through the
> | movie - a big, ugly, menacing presence, insulting people,
> | using obscenities against the Korean grocers and scaring the
> | crap out of everyone, white and black and asian. I didn't see
> | anyone even act like they liked him. At the end he's killed
> | by the police and the guy on the radio is eulogizing him as
> | "We're gonna miss you, man". Yeah, right - probably the first
> | night's rest anyones gotten without worrying about his boom box.
> | I found it hard to believe than any character in that movie would
> | shed a tear for the guy and most would be glad he's gone.
>
> It was obvious he was liked--and mroe to the point, respected--by the
> neighborhood folx from the first scene. While you may not have liked
> him, I think it was pretty clear that we was resepcted and liked (I
> mean, you could hear folx in the background saying "Radio!" "Wassup,
> Raheem?!" all the time) by the people int he neighborhood.
>

It's been a while since I saw the picture, but I don't remember
"respect" but fear. When one guy was spraying people with a
fire hydrant and stopped to let him pass, the expression on his
face told me he wasn't giving him a break because he was a cool
dude, but because he could, and might, shove his head down into
his neck. I'm curious about this "respect" as well - exactly
what did he do that earned him all that respect - other than being
a pain in the ass - what exactly did he do with his time? If
you remember him getting respect, that may have been there, I just
don't remember it that way.


> |3) Spike Lee's character, at a critical moment, starts a riot that
> | destroys the neighborhood and the store where he's worked for
> | a while. Then he comes back and asks for his *PAY*? Does the
> | phrase - "Yeah, I got your pay right here." sound familiar?
>
> That was entirely within Mookie's character. We all knew he was
> irresponsible.
>

Oh yeah, irresponsible, and a weasily little guy - fully capable
of a rash act that started a major riot, but capable of going to
the pizza owner and demanding money? I really don't think so.
It's be more in his character to stay out of the guy's sight for
a few generations. And what about the pizza guy - are you telling
me he'd really pay the money? I was expecting him to invite
Mookie into the back room for a short "talk". The entire scene
was fantasy.

> |All in all I found it a very poorly done movie and hardly worth any
> |praise at all.
>
> While I can get this from 1), all 2) & 3) say is that you didn't like
> some of the prinicpal characters which doesn't really say much about
> the movie one way or the other, does it?
>

I'd hate most of those characters if they were in my life. But
that isn't the point. Next time you watch a Marx brothers movie
try to imagine them showing up in YOUR life. You'd hardly find them
amusing. It was the way the characters were presented and the
reactions to them which I think were totally unrealistic.

marc colten

Ethan Montag

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Nov 25, 1992, 4:19:16 PM11/25/92
to
In article <1992Nov25.1...@cbfsb.cb.att.com> col...@cbnewsb.cb.att.com (marc.colten) writes:
....stuff deleted....

>3) Spike Lee's character, at a critical moment, starts a riot that
> destroys the neighborhood and the store where he's worked for
> a while. Then he comes back and asks for his *PAY*? Does the
> phrase - "Yeah, I got your pay right here." sound familiar?
>
SPOILER ahead...

How come so many people don't get it. It's the name of the movie
for God's sake. Given complicated situations and difficult choices,
you have to ask, "Did the character do the right thing." Did Lee's
character do the right thing? Was starting a riot and destroying
Sal's restaurant the right thing to do? Of course it was. Am I
the only one who saw that by starting the riot and destruction Lee's
character saved Sal's life? The mob was going to kill Sal and his
sons most likely if Lee hadn't diverted their anger. That's why
Sal doesn't say no when Lee's character asks to be paid. He owes him
his pay...and a lot more.


One thing I respect Spike Lee for was that he never explained the movie
to people. If the audience was too blind to see it than it's their
loss. I am kind of sad that I have to explain it.
____ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
|\___\_ _____ |\__\ |\___\_ \__\ /\__\_|\__\
| | |_\ |\_____\_| | | Ethan D. Montag | | |_\ \ \/ / /\_\| |
| | || | |_\| | Center for Visual Science| | | \ \/ /| | |
| | || | ___ | University of Rochester | | | \ / | | |
| | | \|_|| | | 274 Meliora Hall | | | \ / | | |
| | | __ | | | Rochester, NY 14627 | | ||\ \//\ | | |
| | ||\_\_| | | | | || |\ / /|| | |
| | || | |_\| | e-mail: | | || | \/ / || | |
| | || | ___ | e...@cvs.rochester.edu | | || | \/ || | |
| | _| \|_____|| | | Phone: (716)275-8443 | | _| \|_ _| \|_ |
\|___| \|__| FAX: (716)271-3043 \|___| \|__| \|__|

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 25, 1992, 12:28:38 PM11/25/92
to
col...@cbnewsb.cb.att.com (marc.colten) writes:
|> |I was very disappointed in DTRT - not just because of any artistic
|> |considerations, but because I think he seemed to think his audience
|> |was stupid. Here are a few things I noticed that we weren't
|> |supposed to see as bizarre:
|>
|> |1) He included incidents with people venting their hate directly
|> | into the screen - I really thought that went out with Elmer Rice.
|>
|> Okay. I liked this. Different strokes.

|Fair enough. My point was it was (to my view) a crude form of
|filmaking. He was telling, not showing.

It's Spike Lee-ism and one I've always liked, so....

What did he do with his time? I don't know--it was middle of summer
and the weekend, so no one was doing much of anything (school's out,
no work and all that).

Back to the point: I think you're confusing fear with awe. Besides
which "Wassup Raheem" comments were peppered thruout the film, usually
in the background while other action was going on. And even in that
first scene, the kids at the fire hydrant gave Radio his props as he
left "Radio Raheem... the man."


|> |3) Spike Lee's character, at a critical moment, starts a riot that
|> | destroys the neighborhood and the store where he's worked for
|> | a while. Then he comes back and asks for his *PAY*? Does the
|> | phrase - "Yeah, I got your pay right here." sound familiar?
|>
|> That was entirely within Mookie's character. We all knew he was
|> irresponsible.
|>
|Oh yeah, irresponsible, and a weasily little guy - fully capable
|of a rash act that started a major riot, but capable of going to
|the pizza owner and demanding money? I really don't think so.
|It's be more in his character to stay out of the guy's sight for
|a few generations. And what about the pizza guy - are you telling
|me he'd really pay the money? I was expecting him to invite
|Mookie into the back room for a short "talk". The entire scene
|was fantasy.

I think both actions were within the sphere of what the characters
would do. Mookie took three-hour lunch breaks, and all he really
cared about was money and he sure had demonstrated the chutzpah well
before the final scene.

And Sal, yeah I could see Sal. The whole thing was a study in
pseudo-macho pride. Too funny.

|> |All in all I found it a very poorly done movie and hardly worth any
|> |praise at all.
|>
|> While I can get this from 1), all 2) & 3) say is that you didn't like
|> some of the prinicpal characters which doesn't really say much about
|> the movie one way or the other, does it?

|I'd hate most of those characters if they were in my life. But
|that isn't the point. Next time you watch a Marx brothers movie
|try to imagine them showing up in YOUR life. You'd hardly find them
|amusing. It was the way the characters were presented and the
|reactions to them which I think were totally unrealistic.

Maybe I just know too many people like those in the film and you
don't.
--
Peace.
"The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,-- this
longing to attain a self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into
a better and truer self...He would not Africanize America, for
America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach
his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro
blood has a message for the world."
- W. E. B. DuBois

Matthew Melmon

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Nov 25, 1992, 6:28:41 PM11/25/92
to
In article <1992Nov25.2...@galileo.cc.rochester.edu>,
e...@finch.cvs.rochester.edu (Ethan Montag) wrote:

> One thing I respect Spike Lee for was that he never explained the movie
> to people. If the audience was too blind to see it than it's their
> loss. I am kind of sad that I have to explain it.

This is predicated upon the fact that the audience *believes* that
events have transpired in a meaningful way. Frankly, I wouldn't
have given a rat's ass if the mob had killed Sol. By that time,
I had tuned out. Whatever happened, happened because that's the
way Spike wanted it to happen. Not much past the first ten minutes
of the movie did I believe the progression of events. And the
incident which started the riot was nonsense. Pure, utter, what
other words are there nonsense.

a) I do not believe that Sol would have smashed the radio
b) as someone else pointed out, I don't believe that anyone else
particularly cared for Radio R.
c) I don't believe that the police in question were particularly
prone to killing people by accident. Yes, there are bad cops.
These particular cops struck me as cops that didn't really want
to be where they were, not cops interested in killing some black
guy because it was kind of fun.
d) I don't believe the cops would have left like they did, assuming
they *had* killed somebody.
e) I don't believe Sol and family would have remained at the scene
f) I don't believe the riot would have happened so soon, assuming
the death did occur.

All this makes it rather difficult to care one way or the other if
Mookie 'did the right thing.'

bar...@cod.nosc.mil

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Nov 25, 1992, 1:25:30 PM11/25/92
to

I'm not so sure I would agree. I am not offended at all by the use of swear
words in personal life or on film. I just don't like it when people use them
just for the sake of using them. Maybe Mantegna was using them to show how
angry he was, but he wasn't the only one using them to excess. Were all the
cops angry people? Are we supposed to believe that real cops spend all day
swearing and are basically very angry people. Kind of a scary thought
considering they carry guns. If Mamet was trying to show how angry he was
(and I may be missing the point here), then it would seem to me that he could
have used less swear words and contrasted them to the possible lack of swear
words used by the other cops. I say he should have used less swear words becuase
Mantegna's constant use (and of the others) really made me uneasy and distracted me from
really being able to enjoy the film and get into the characters.

Aside from Mamet, I still think that too many films contain excess swear words
to put the audience at unease to make them easier to manipulate. Comics (bad
ones in my opinion) use this technique constantly nowadays. If you can't make
the audience laugh, throw in a bunch of swear words. In Eddie Murphy's Raw,
if you take out all of the swear words, the only funny part is the opening
scene with the little kid. I think that's too bad, because he is a very funny
guy if he just stuck to his characters and improvisations. Well, I digress.

Another technique along this line is the overuse of gore in horror flicks.
Throwing in the gross-out scenes makes people very uneasy and makes them
easier to scare if you say BOO. This is certainly a lot easier trick than
trying to sublimely scare the audience with an underlying real fear of the
day. You don't see many good horror films made like that anymore.

JDB

Charles L Isbell

unread,
Nov 26, 1992, 1:15:27 PM11/26/92
to
bar...@cod.nosc.mil writes:
|Aside from Mamet, I still think that too many films contain excess
|swear words to put the audience at unease to make them easier to
|manipulate. Comics (bad ones in my opinion) use this technique
|constantly nowadays. If you can't make the audience laugh, throw in
|a bunch of swear words. In Eddie Murphy's Raw, if you take out all
|of the swear words, the only funny part is the opening scene with the
|little kid. I think that's too bad, because he is a very funny
|guy if he just stuck to his characters and improvisations. Well, I
|digress.

Well, if you take out all the swear words, you have incomplete
sentences. I suspect you could still substitute words and it'd be
funny. Not any more funny, IMHO, but still funny (the only unfunny
part was the ending, I thought).

I suppose this all depends on whether cussin' provides any shock. In
many contexts, they don't for me so I tend to hear them as
superlative modifiers and the like (sort of like hearing "very" a lot
and wondering why others get irritated by it).

|Another technique along this line is the overuse of gore in horror flicks.
|Throwing in the gross-out scenes makes people very uneasy and makes them
|easier to scare if you say BOO. This is certainly a lot easier trick than
|trying to sublimely scare the audience with an underlying real fear of the
|day. You don't see many good horror films made like that anymore.

Agreed. Shock!=Horror.
--
Peace.
"I have more respect for a man who lets me know where
he stands even if he's wrong... than the one who comes
up like an angel and is nothing but a devil."
- Malcolm X

gilbert.m.stewart

unread,
Nov 26, 1992, 11:47:30 AM11/26/92