Thursday, February 27, 2014

Spike Lee's Lack of Historical Awareness

Spike Lee recently ranted about gentrification in New York City. It gave Huffpo a hard on. Several writers (Sailer, Vox, etc.) have commented on it, using it as ammunition in the immigration debate. His words make sense from an immigration cessation standpoint. Even though I support using his words against prog ideas, this should be about the truly, breath-takingly amazing levels of ignorance for the history of American cities that Spike Lee displays with his rant. The history that "Slaughter of the Cities" covers in 800 pages but the media can't be bothered to discuss. Let us look at his rant. Lee in black, bold italics (he'd want it that way), SOBL in regular font and indented where I could for commentary.

LEE: Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the south Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherfuckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.

Wow. Black World: where mothers feeling safe to push baby strollers at 3am is a bad sign. Facilities got better because the city pulled in a ton of tax revenue from the growth of the financial and real estate sectors and a massive increase in tourism revenue due to Mayor Giuliani's clean-up and Bloomberg's continuation of policies that you detest so much as to make entire films hating on the cops. Samuel L. Jackson ad-libbed in the terrible Shaft remake when he was going to crack a bad guy's skull "It's Giuliani time!", mocking the tough police tactics, but without them, crime would not be at all time lows. Municipal budgets need tax revenue after the debt markets say no mas. It was a crisis in the '70s like right during your Summer of Sam movie. Check it out.

LEE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And even more. Let me kill you some more. Not yet. Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin’-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!

Your dad is a great jazz musician like my dad is a great baseball mind, from his son's point of view. Why do you think your dad bought a home in Brooklyn in '68? The city was tanking. Look at the films of that era and beyond? Does NYC look welcoming. Spike's dad bought his home as Brooklyn turned for the worse to become the boiling pot of racial strife that would mark all of Spike's early films. No one called the cops on your dad before because far worse shit happened in Brooklyn.

LEE: Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.
You can’t just — here’s another thing: When Michael Jackson died they wanted to have a party for him in motherfuckin’ Fort Greene Park and all of a sudden the white people in Fort Greene said, “Wait a minute! We can’t have black people having a party for Michael Jackson to celebrate his life. Who’s coming to the neighborhood? They’re gonna leave lots of garbage.” Garbage? Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning? It’s like the motherfuckin’ Westminster Dog Show. There’s 20,000 dogs running around. Whoa. So we had to move it to Prospect Park!

You can't just come in here. What the fuck do you think getting section 8 to live in a neighborhood is? It's getting someone with a money printer and gun to force a neighborhood to allow you in. What hell is with the Brazil reference? Someone vacation there recently? White mothers with strollers at 3am, 20,000 dogs at Fort Greene Park... dog whistle racism. Stop mocking my people's culture of walking their dogs and/or their babies. Sorry we aren't teaching them curse words, filming it and posting it on WSHH.

LEE: I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

Hey Bull Connor. Reverse races and have a white guy say this in any US city in mid-20th century America and he is the villain of a civil rights crusade movie. Fuck you Spike. Ask Detroit, Baltimore, Cincinnati and other cities how they felt about a group of people who came in and bogarted. Imagine, Spike, if your fellow blacks had moved into white neighborhoods and shown respect and not changed the neighborhood.

LEE: And then! [to audience member] Whoa whoa whoa. And then! So you’re talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford fuckin’, motherfuckin’ Williamsburg now because of motherfuckin’ hipsters. What do they call Bushwick now? What’s the word? [Audience: East Williamsburg]
That’s another thing: Motherfuckin’… These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the fuck is that? How you changin’ names?

Afford it? What do you think the white ethnics and middle class of Boston did when forced bus rides was rammed through? They couldn't afford Boston Latin so they packed up for the suburbs. Invisible tax because per the previous paragraph, your peeps bogarted and couldn't respect a culture that had been laid down for generations.

LEE: And we had the crystal ball, motherfuckin’ Do the Right Thing with John Savage’s character, when he rolled his bike over Buggin’ Out’s sneaker. I wrote that script in 1988. He was the first one. How you walking around Brooklyn with a Larry Bird jersey on? You can’t do that. Not in Bed Stuy.
So, look, you might say, “Well, there’s more police protection. The public schools are better.” Why are the public schools better? First of all, everybody can’t afford — even if you have money it’s still hard to get your kids into private school. Everybody wants to go to Saint Ann’s — you can’t get into Saint Ann’s. You can’t get into Friends. What’s the other one? In Brooklyn Heights. Packer. If you can’t get your child into there … It’s crazy. There’s a business now where people — you pay — people don’t even have kids yet and they’re taking this course about how to get your kid into private school. I’m not lying! If you can’t get your kid into private school and you’re white here, what’s the next best thing? All right, now we’re gonna go to public schools.
So, why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!

Funny how the schools get better as better students go to them. Bloomberg fired how many teachers in all his reforms in the NYPS? 1. Spike, I'm sorry, but when blacks moved into cities 50 years ago they were dealing with middle class and poor whites who were not aligned with the wealthy. These whites moving in are wealthy. They'll get what they want. This is why Portland, Oregon's southwest side did not create cheap, affordable housing for the section 8 crowd, but the eastside had to. It's a game, and newsflash, the elite progressives found new racial lockstep voters for swing states to tilt the board their way despite going even further left (I bet you hate this gay shit, too) who commit less crime and generally beat the shit out of blacks in every socioeconomic measure: Hispanics.

LEE: All right, go ahead. Let’s see you come back to that.

Spike, I get it. All the hype that your peeps would run prosperous cities if only those evil southerners were taught a lesson was a lie. You have one group power, pull the lever 90% of the time for Democrats. Sucks to face that. You're a black man in a nation where the only positive black outlet for achievement out of the hood is sports. You look in the mirror and you see a weaselly, little guy who looks like a child when he puts on his authentic Knicks jersey and sits in the front row. I've viewed your filmography. Besides television commercials, all the successful black businessmen in America are in your films. The progression moves from black guy from NYC making semi-autobiographical films of things he knows well like living on da mean streetz, the '70s, blackness to self indulgent wish fulfillment for the creator's fragile little ego.

She Hate Me (From Wikipedia)

John Henry "Jack" Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) is a financially successful and upwardly mobile executive at a biotechnology firm who, following the suicide of a colleague, Dr. Herman Schiller, is falsely accused of securities fraud by his superior, Leland Powell (Woody Harrelson). Armstrong's assets are frozen, and he finds himself unable to maintain his quality of life.

In order to make ends meet, he becomes a sperm donor, initially by acquiescing to the desires of Fatima Goodrich (Kerry Washington), his ex-fiancée who came out as a lesbian and now wants a child. Although there is still unresolved bitterness and tension between them over Armstrong and Goodrich's prior relationship, she and her girlfriend, Alex Guerrero (Dania Ramirez), offer him a substantial sum of money to impregnate them both. This leads to Goodrich goading Armstrong into establishing a business in which groups of lesbians come over to his house and pay him $10,000 each to have sex with them in order to become pregnant.

Holy fuck dude. You named him John Henry. A wealthy social climbing black guy at a BIOTECHNOLOGY firm! Evil white superior falsely accuses him of a crime! Lesbians (all gorgeous) come out of the woodworks for his precious genetic coding to have children. >Stop laughing< Women of all races! $10,000 each for what they can get much cheaper at a fertility clinic. >Stop laughing< In the movie, the lesbians still have sex with him as if they will conceive immediately. >Stop laughing< I'll pitch a script of me as a CIA agent who moonlights as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys when not pulling 5 ways with Victoria's Secret models, and it's not as ludicrous sounding or as much of an indulgence of my vanity. Damn man, even ol cpuples don't pay Ivy League girls 10K for an egg to have a kid.

You haven't done shit in years. Go home to the bridge you guard or get back to turning straw into gold. Read up on some history and take your horn rimmed glasses off before you shove your head up your ass next time. Please, Hollywood producers, find some Hispanic directors just to get bitter assholes like Lee and John Singleton out of the discussion when the media has to talk minority directors.


peterike said...

Seriously, how does Spike even pay the bills any longer? His first few films were 'aight, even with all their whiny black grievance-mongering and hate-whitey stuff. But what's he done lately?

Maybe he's still living off them Nike commercials. Yeah, Nike! Great way to help the co-mune-e-tay Spike, by making them all think they can't live without $300 sneakers!

He's just a little bitch crybaby who cried wacism, wacism all the way home.

Anonymous said...

Spike hit a home run! Racial Truth in our country often offends those most in denial....I often learn more about White America after a racial event than the event itself ..Spike's rant was educational and informative on so many levels and layers....

Robert said...

Classic rant, good catch.

I feel for Spike, not realizing that the white people who support his arguments for equality and compassion are the exact same people who build social capital in their neighborhoods and call the cops on antisocial behavior.

SWPLs liked Spike because he was a non-threatening black man. (Should have bred for those, Southernfags). But he didn't realise that as early as Jungle Fever, his films were going to get funded only if they were about Being Black, not about People. Like any artist, spending 30 years churning out versions of the same thing is going to kill your spirit, but then hanging around people who think Eddie Murphy in a fat suit is funny will do that anyway.

Toddy Cat said...

"Spike's rant was educational and informative on so many levels and layers"

That's actually true, but not in the way he meant it to bo...