I remember when I first saw She’s Gotta Have It in 1986. It was like a smack in the face, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. At the time, portrayals of African Americans in films basically consisted of criminals, drug dealers, and pimps. Having grown up in Detroit in a racially diverse community, I knew these stereotypes to be utter bullshit. Hollywood seemed only to be interested in typecasting Black actors into certain roles. Lee’s debut feature film She’s Gotta Have It portrayed Blacks as people. It was about damn time.
Spike Lee’s films don’t just push buttons — they become the subject of national discussions. His latest, Bamboozled, is a controversial comedy that stars Damon Wayans as a frustrated TV executive. He comes up with an idea for a show he thinks will never make it on the air. It’s called Mantan: The New Millenium Minstrel Show, and it’s about a pair of lazy, homeless black men. If anyone ever questioned whether Spike Lee has balls as a filmmaker, don’t even bother asking. Lee has the biggest balls of any filmmaker currently alive on the planet! This is intelligent, volatile stuff.
Bamboozled cleverly deals with the subject of racism using over the top, satirical humor. Spike Lee has delivered an amazing movie on, what I believe, is the most important issue facing our country today. This is a remarkable film that will provoke thoughtful discussion about racial stereotypes in America. It is his angriest and most brilliant film.
I caught up with Spike in the hopes of discussing and dissecting this one together.
Have things gotten better for Black filmmakers since “She’s Gotta Have It” came out almost 15 years ago? Or black actors?
I met Spike Lee three years ago at Tribeca Film Festival I was working for the fest at the time. I actually had a Film Threat hat on and he was walking by me I saw him looking at my hat. He actually gave me a head now and stuck his hand out and shook my hand. I told him seeing School Case as a kid was one of the reasons I got into film. He’s a super cool humble guy.