Last month, Spike Lee attacked Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, tweeting that “American slavery was not a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It was a Holocaust.” It didn’t inspire much controversy, possibly because the whole Lee/Tarantino Auteurist Feud feels so 1997. Nevertheless, just a few days after Tarantino lobbed an n-bomb in the press room at the Golden Globes — the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a theater crowded with reporters who are all carrying flamethrowers — an important cultural voice has weighed in on Lee’s Django critique. In his column for the Miami New Times, former 2 Live Crew frontman takes Lee to task for his statements. (Revelation: Luther Campbell has a column!) Some key lines:
Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is a brilliant flick that more accurately depicts the African American experience than any of the 15 movies about black culture Lee’s directed in his lifetime.
Lee needs to get over himself. He’s upset because Tarantino makes better movies. The man who put Malcolm X on the big screen is Hollywood’s resident house negro; a bougie activist who wants to tell his fellow white auteurs how they can and can’t depict African Americans.
Spike is upset because Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the movie is just like him: a conniving and scheming Uncle Tom.
Between the haterade, Campbell does slip in some interesting bits of film analysis, noting that the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio is analogous to a contemporary white boxing promoter, using fear and intimidation to keep black athletes in line. Fans of college football know that Campbell allegedly hung out on the sidelines during University of Miami football games in the ’80s, paying players for bone-rattling hits and touchdowns.
The point is: It’s good to see that we can all have an intelligent conversation about race in America.
Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich