Spike vs Clint: Round Three

Posted by · 6:05 am · June 9th, 2008

Oh dear, this really is getting ugly. As we all knew he would, Spike Lee has responded to Clint Eastwood’s instructions that he “shut his face” about the issue of the supposed sidelining of African-Americans in “Flags of Our Fathers.” And, in an interview with ABC News’ Sheila Marikar, it seems Lee hasn’t picked his words any more tactfully than Eastwood:

First of all, the man is not my father and we’re not on a plantation either. He’s a great director. He makes his films, I make my films. The thing about it though, I didn’t personally attack him. And a comment like ‘a guy like that should shut his face’ — come on Clint, come on. He sounds like an angry old man right there.

If he wishes, I could assemble African-American men who fought at Iwo Jima and I’d like him to tell these guys that what they did was insignificant and they did not exist. I’m not making this up. I know history. I’m a student of history. And I know the history of Hollywood and its omission of the one million African-American men and women who contributed to World War II. Not everything was John Wayne, baby.

Now I’m actually more sympathetic to Lee’s views than some, and I think Eastwood could have phrased his remarks more delicately. But the plantation line takes the argument to a place it really doesn’t need to go, and frankly makes me cringe. These are two of the best, most thoughtful filmmakers in the business, and this is the level of discussion they come up with?

Lee closes the interview with a peace offering that strikes me a somewhat half-hearted, not least because he can’t resist inserting a political barb there too:

Even though he’s trying to have a Dirty Harry flashback, I’m going to take the Obama high road and end it right here. Peace and love.

Not cool. I hope Eastwood has enough smarts to let this go. I suspect he won’t. For my part, I hope “Miracle at St Anna” is a terrific enough film to overshadow this squabble.

→ 10 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

10 responses so far

  • 1 6-09-2008 at 8:02 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fucking pathetic. Even when Lee has a case, he goes and sticks his foot further in his mouth that we could have imagined. It’s typical by his standards, the plantation line that is, and the reason I always have to walk away shaking my head.

    You’re a fine filmmaker, Spike. Try not to come across so ignorant when you get into these (sometimes) necessary public disputes.

  • 2 6-09-2008 at 8:14 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Let them battle it out with their films at the 2009 Oscars.

  • 3 6-09-2008 at 11:23 am

    John Foote said...

    Got to agree Kris, the man m,ay have a point but who is listening now?? The moment the word plantation came out, we shut him, off because it is now about something else that it has no business being about. Great director, silly man…sometimes. Whose angry Spike? Ask yourself that as you look in the mirror.

  • 4 6-09-2008 at 2:40 pm

    Walter Hollmann said...

    Clint never suggested that the African-American soldiers at Iwo Jima were either insignificant or nonexistent. He simply stated a fact: they didn’t raise the flag, and the movie was about those who did. Honestly. I’m not even touching the plantation line.

  • 5 6-09-2008 at 4:38 pm

    Twinzin said...

    I agree with Spike all the way. It’s hitsory why not have it in the film. As for the plantation line. It’s a “state of mind that certain white americans have toward blacks. He’s a grown man and nobody has to tell him to shut his face. He should be able to say and do whatever the fuck he feels like.

    Peace and Love.

  • 6 6-09-2008 at 5:10 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    …and reverse racism.

  • 7 6-09-2008 at 7:40 pm

    Bing147 said...

    There’s no such thing as reverse racism. Its just racism. Racism is racism, doesn’t matter which race is against what race.

    And no, he doesn’t have a point here. He may have a point in that Hollywood doesn’t recognize the contributions of minorities in WWII films, I won’t argue with that, its definitely true, and not just African Americans but Asian Americans as well, but that’s hardly the point. Attacking Clint’s films is idiotic. Again, as Clint said, Flags was about the men who rose the flag. There were no black soldiers involved in raising the flag. So in what way were they left out. Is he just supposed to insert some random segment about these men which has nothing to do with the plot to be more inclusive? And as for Iwo Jima, it took place deep in the island from the Japanese perspective. There were hardly any white soldiers at all.

  • 8 6-12-2008 at 9:37 pm

    Greg NJ said...

    If I recall, one of the central characters in “Flags” was a Native American. That doesn’t seem exclusive. And Letters from Iwo Jima was a very sensitive film, sympathetic to the Japanese. Most WWII movies villified the Japanese. Yes, African-Americans have been marginalized. But so haven’t other groups. I think Eastwood is a VERY sensitive director.