Spike Lee Goes Off at Sundance

Brittani’s Team Pick

Spike Lee, (maker of movies, black person, successful human) recently had a thing or two to say about Hollywood Studios: They don’t know anything about black people. With the self-financed George Lucas film Red Tails hitting theaters and Charlize Theron‘s adorably misguided comment to Oscar nomineeViola Davis of The Help, conversation about Hollywood’s unwillingness to finance movies with black principal characters are on the up and up.

Watch Lee “respond” to Chris Rock‘s question at a panel following his latest indie effort, Red Hook Summer.

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Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 328 articles for us.


  1. My sister is a film major at NYU and has a lot of feelings about this. As a person that enjoys films blah blah, I can’t even.

    I like to say with a huge grain of salt that at times “America does not believe in *insert oppressed group*” and be done with it because it pretty much makes my point.

    Example: “America does not believe in fat people” it is a loaded statement but I feel for the most part on how media does shape attitudes and mores of our American society is true. Watch the biggest loser without pity and you will see what I mean.

    Shallow moment: Girl in the mohawk, yes please :D

    I like when Spike Lee says “mutha fuckin’!!!!”

  2. There is a lot going on here….How do people feel about this “tirade?” And has anyone seen Red Hook Summer? Why is it supposed to be so disturbing?

    • I haven’t seen it so I don’t know what’s with the ending. I’m not even a huge Spike Lee fan. Crooklyn made me want to stand in a corner forever. I think people know what he said is true but what is that going to change? Nothing probably. Will one or two execs maybe feel some spirit run through them and take a chance on a movie they normally would pass on in hopes of a Bridesmaidsian type of upheaval? Perhaps. But most of them will probably laugh at your pain and then make White Guy Jumping Off of Shit Part 78.

      • “But most of them will probably laugh at your pain and then make White Guy Jumping Off of Shit Part 78.”


      • I think you’re right that it probably won’t change anything. I mean if even the very white George Lucas in this day and age is having a hard time getting studios to back a movie with a predominately black cast and has to say “Fuck it, I’ll do it myself”, then that says a lot about how little the movie industry is going to ultimately care about Spike Lee calling them out on the exact same things.

  3. Like bra mentioned above “America does not believe in *insert oppressed group*” and this leads to Hollywood putting money into the same projects year after year. They have deemed any minority group’s story as something that the audience won’t relate to and I think its bull but its a business. I wish we could have more of a variety in any cast because when you have movies that have an all black cast then it becomes a sort of genre. (Tyler Perry movies!)

    At the Oscar round table, Viola Davis said something that stuck with me,”everybody has a story and thats what we go to the theatre for, we want to see a human event.” Just by understanding that, we can include so many different elements and give characters more depth beyond race or whichever. Its like the possibilities are endless in film if every story was given a fair chance! And that also means giving minority actors/actresses more opportunities that aren’t stereotypical or token roles. This makes me want to write my own screenplay but I already know it would be tough to get much funding lol and I think I went off on a tangent..sorry ^_^

    • Why can’t I like this comment? I like this comment!
      I also want to write- have written- my own screenplays but the situation in hollywood is so disheartening when it comes to telling stories about marginalized people…it’s like why bother?

  4. Ohhh god that Charlize thing. And then her totally downcast get-me-out-of-here look when Davis was talking about race. I had to stop the clip I was so overcome by embarrassment for that whole situation.

  5. Thanks for posting this. I think there is a value in making private grief and anger public in that it brings attention to an issue, and I think that’s what he is doing here. Watching this reaffirmed my commitment to use my dollar vote on movies that tell stories of marginalized people / stories that don’t often get supported by studios and mainstream media. Anyone wanna go see this movie with me when it comes to Madison?

  6. you know, while i appreciate the “america doesn’t believe in *insert oppressed group*” sentiment, i think there is a certain type of *insert oppressed group* that america does in fact believe in. meaning, movies that play into stereotypes with their characterizations of *insert oppressed group* will probably be green lighted by execs and casting directors are happy to cast those types of characters.

    the problem is that people’s imagination about *insert oppressed group* are fucking limited and THEY don’t believe that they can be anything more than *insert stereotype that continues to perpetuate a limited imagery of oppressed group* so then they only green light movies that fit within those parameters.

    also, those stereotypical characterizations get nominated for bid deal awards because *insert oppressed group* actor played *insert stereotype* really well!!!

    • I agree with everything you said! lol Seriously. Especially your last sentence. My thinking is America does not believe in giving the *insert oppressed group* layers and depth beyond stereotypical or token roles. Because honestly, if you don’t give us depth then of course the story might not be seen as relatable to a broader audience. So its like why would they even want to make more beyond that.

    • Exactly. Yes. All of the recent nominations for black actors that come immediately to mind have been for problematic roles.

  7. i don’t think there was anything adorable about charlize’s response to a problem that she never has and NEVER WILL encounter. she was being dismissive and refusing to look beyond her privilege. it doesn’t matter how hot she thinks viola is, halle berry is consistently touted as one of the most beautiful women alive and she has trouble finding acceptable acting roles as a black woman. viola is not going to fair much better. i mean halle is just as beautiful as charlize and they both have best actress oscars. halle could have easily played some the parts charlize has done, including her current roles in young adult and the evil queen in that snow white film. but is she ever going to be considered for those roles? hell no. that’s what viola was talking about. charlize needs to LISTEN when people talk.

    look at spike in his new york gear! he is nothing if dedicated to nyc. anyway, i agree with what he said, hollywood doesn’t know anything about black people and doesn’t WANT to know. all they want to do is fund the same formulaic and asinine movies about young white men, because white cis straight men are the standard we are all expected understand the human condition through and relate to. any other stories told about people outside of that paradigm are considered “niche”, which is absurd. and when they do want to fund films with any black characters they are usually based on stereotypes like the sassy best friend or the magical negro, or the black character is just an underdeveloped token. overall, is this going to change anything? i doubt it. for years, danny glover has had trouble funding his film about the leader of the successful hatian slave revolt, toussaint l’ouverture, because of a lack of “white heros”. is spike’s speech going to rectify that? i don’t think so. ridiculous.

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