I LIKE SPIKE: A SPIKE LEE INTERVIEW (part 3)

I want to talk about the New York Times and the fact they rejected the original ads for Bamboozled. You must have known… ^ We knew it was going to be somebody, but I never thought it would be the “liberal” New York Times.
Yeah, perhaps “the formerly liberal” New York Times. ^ You know, I thought it would be the New York Post. (LAUGHS)
What happened? ^ We had a teaser campaign, and they rejected that ad. Then we had two one-sheets that compliment each other. One is a pick-a-ninny eating a watermelon. The other one you’ve probably seen with Savion and Tommy in black face. So, they told me they rejected all the ads because they felt they were offensive to their readers. Then we threatened with a lawsuit, and my lawyer talked to their lawyer. So, we came up with this compromise where we made some more ads, and basically it’s the same thing. I think what really got them was the first time we submitted the stuff it was in color. Then we submitted the others in black and white, and I guess it doesn’t read as harsh or whatever.
You’ve been nominated twice for an Oscar and… ^ …And Bamboozled killed any chance–(LAUGHS!)
No, I actually think you’ve got a shot. For some reason, correct me if I’m wrong, I get the feeling you’d like to win one. ^ Nah.
I believe that the Academy awards Oscars to one kind of movie — dramas with white people. ^ But look at 1989. “Do the Right Thing” didn’t even get nominated, and what won that year? “Driving Miss Daisy!”
It’s almost as if the “safe” interpretations of African Americans are the ones that get any kind of recognition whatsoever. ^ Exactly. And the same interpretations are going to be possibly Men of Honor and Remember the Titans. You know, those are very safe. No disrespect to Denzel, who I love, or Cuba Gooding, but you know those are a very safe type of “Ghost of Mississippi,” “Mississippi Burning” or “Cry Freedom” dealing with the serious subject matter.
Let’s say you win an Oscar. Or perhaps they give you the lifetime achievement award, anyway. ^ Oh, where they wheel me out? (LAUGHS)
Yeah, 20 years from now they’re going to wheel you out… ^ I hope it’s more than 20 before I’m in a wheelchair!
What are you going to say, because that’s a huge platform? ^ I’m not even thinking about it. What’s interesting about the Academy Awards is every year they got this guy, Chuck Workman, who does these little (montages). Well this year they should junk Chuck Workman, and show the final montage from Bamboozled instead. (LAUGHS)
Which is absolutely chilling, I might add. To me it begs almost another project, a documentary about perceptions of African Americans in Film. It might make a great film class that you could teach. ^ Uhum.
You can even look at films like Animal House, which isn’t that old… ^ …Otis Day and the Night?
Yeah! I saw that when I was a kid, and to see it now it really stands out as being so wrong. I’m an optimist I’d like to think things are getting better. ^ Hope so.
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Posted on October 13, 2000 in Interviews by
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