For decades, Spike Lee has been a Hollywood gadfly, keeping race and the plight of…
Tag: Spike Lee
By Andrea Plaid
When it comes to film editing, it’s about the cut, and this week’s Crush, Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez, is one of the most respected–and coolest–editors in the business.
Gonzalez-Martinez has worked with director Byron Hurt (the award-winning Soul Food Junkies) and Vin Diesel (yes, that Vin Diesel), among other directors. Here’s the Diesel/Gonzalez-Martinez short called Los Bandoleros, a prequel reuniting the Fast And Furious crew:
Gonzalez-Martinez is a director, too: she helmed the documentary, Bragging Rights: Stickball Stories, about the sport dubbed “the poor man’s baseball.” She’s currently directing comedy shorts for T&A Flicks, a production company she co-founded, as well as running her own production company, LaSone Studio.
And did I mention she’s a gracious and great interviewee? She took time out to answer a few questions about “the invisible art,” the effect of digital technology on editing, and how race and racism can creep their way into the profession.
By Andrea Plaid
Anyone who know me very well just waited for me to write this one. Something about his beauteous combination of brilliance and chest hair keeps me on Team Chiwetel.
By Guest Contributor Lamont Lilly
Dr. Mark Anthony Neal is a professor of Black Popular Culture in the Department of African and African American Studies at Duke University. He is the author of five books including Soul Babies (2002), New Black Man (2005) and the forthcoming Looking for Leroy: Illegible Black Masculinities (2013). He is also co-editor of That’s the Joint! (2011) and is host of the weekly webcast Left of Black. After sitting-in on one of his classes, we paused for a few questions. Read along as Neal speaks quite insightfully on Spike Lee, Nas, Black feminism, and the n-word.
Lamont Lilly: Dr. Neal, in your book New Black Man, you describe how you were first tagged a “Black male feminist” on the BET Tonight Show. Being that you embrace this tag, can you share with us the meaning of a Black male feminist?
Mark Anthony Neal: (Laughing) Well, when I first began graduate school I was introduced to something called Feminist Theory, a body of work that attempted to intervene in both political discourse and everyday realities regarding the notions of equity between men and women. The idea that men inherited a certain amount of privilege from their maleness was a privilege even more complicated when factoring race into the equation. I was taking classes in the English Department and became curious to the question, “Where are all the Black women writing about this?” There I was, reading Barbara Christian and Barbara Smith, and on my own I began to seek out sisters like bell hooks.
I remember purchasing my first bell hooks reading on me and my wife’s first wedding anniversary. It was my first attempt at critically engaging that type of material. Hooks is one of the most important figures out there on studies of gender, sexuality, and race in the last 20 years. She’s written 15 or so books and none of them with footnotes. She was taking this high theoretical language and writing it in a way that was both applicable and accessible to everyday folks. It was under this context that I was introduced to not just feminism, but Black feminism.
By Guest Contributor Paul Barrett; originally published at New Solitudes
What I find surprising in the critical and personal responses I’ve heard to Django Unchained is the unwillingness to discuss what notions of race the film traffics in. What is Tarantino’s vision of blackness and whiteness, and how does his aesthetic mode of borrowing from every movie he’s ever seen contribute to his notion of race, cultural difference, and racism?
The feud between Quentin Tarantino and Spike Lee is one point of entry for discussing Django Unchained. Lee refuses to see the film, arguing that “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone spaghetti western. It was a holocaust. My ancestors are slaves. Stolen from Africa. I will honor them.”
At the heart of Lee’s critique, and much of the debate over Django Unchained are the questions of historical appropriation–who has the right to tell particular stories–and the question of realism. The latter question really asks, how can we tell particular stories? Is it disrespectful, irresponsible, or racist to depict slavery as a spaghetti western or in an unreal fashion?
Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network called for a national boycott Tuesday of action figures based on the controversial and blood-soaked slavery revenge flick Django Unchained. A 10-doll assortment of characters from the film was going for $299 on Amazon Tuesday.
“Selling this doll is highly offensive to our ancestors and the African American community,” Rev. K.W. Tulloss, NAC’s president in Los Angeles, told the Daily News. “The movie is for adults, but these are action figures that appeal to children. We don’t want other individuals to utilize them for their entertainment, to make a mockery of slavery.”
First of all, Django Unchained could’ve gone horribly wrong. However brilliant a director, Quentin Tarantino is famous amongst people of color for fetishizing African-American culture, and his liberal use of the N-word in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown still rankles folks 15 years after the fact. Tarantino injecting a Blaxploitation-style baadassss freed slave into his vision of the antebellum South could’ve been disastrous. The director’s recent comments about Roots, which he has described as “inauthentic” also raised the eyebrows of many filmgoers who were already nervous about what his slavery narrative would bring. Any crass, gratuitous depiction of Whites raping actress Kerry Washington in a popcorn movie, and “Django Unchained” would’ve been a wrap.
But that’s not what happened. Instead, the Oscar-winning Jamie Foxx plays Django as a gunslinging superhero, the fastest gun in the West.
–Miles Marshall Lewis, Ebony
“When you look at Roots, nothing about it rings true in the storytelling, and none of the performances ring true for me either,” says Tarantino. “I didn’t see it when it first came on, but when I did I couldn’t get over how oversimplified they made everything about that time. It didn’t move me because it claimed to be something it wasn’t.”
While many white directors might shy away from criticizing such an iconic symbol of African-American culture, Tarantino doesn’t hold back. He’s confident in his knowledge of a time and subject most people know little about and would rather forget. He was also savvy enough to bring Hudlin on board. “There were times when I’d be filming a scene and really getting into it and Reg would just say, ‘Hey is this the story you wanted to tell?’ He’d bring the focus back if I got too carried away.”
–Alison Samuels, The Daily Beast
By Andrea Plaid
Award-winning author James Earl Hardy mentioned that quite a few people may have seen his best-selling book, B-boy Blues, outside of college classrooms–where it’s required reading in African American/multiculti lit and queer lit courses–and bookshelves: actor Isaiah Washington, who plays one half of a same-gender loving (SGL) couple in Spike Lee’s 1996 flick, Get On The Bus, is a holding a copy of it.
Lit-checked in a Spike Lee movie? Such is Hardy’s swag.
After the jump is the interview, in which Hardy talks about the “One Superstar Person Of Color At A Time” mindset in publishing, Black masculinity in pop culture, and his writing a one-person play about a man of color who’s a porn star and entrepreneur. (You read that right.) Hardy also talks about Washington’s career-ending homophobic remark, made a decade after his role in Get On The Bus.