Spike Lee Has No Oscar

Spike Lee doesn’t think too highly of the Oscars, and this year’s crop of nominees isn’t to his liking so it is implied.

CTV gives us the latest blurb from the talented filmmaker:

[Lee] was in Toronto on Tuesday to discuss his films and the music that defines them.

But before addressing an audience of hundreds of enthusiastic fans, he told reporters that this year’s crop of Academy Award picks is looking pretty homogenous.

“It’s probably actually gotten worse as far as African-Americans in the film world,” Lee said as he walked a red carpet in front of the downtown movie theatre where his talk was held. “The nominations came out today, I didn’t recognize any African-Americans…. We haven’t had opportunities to be in the films this past year.”

I read the full story, sat back in my chair. Thought about it. First, the Academy and their respected branches can nominate whoever they want to. Sometimes we agree with them, sometimes not. If Lee is right and there haven’t been that many good films for African-Americans- be it actor or filmmaker- then why the complaint about the nominations to begin with?

Second, the soundbite (and the “vanilla” quote that followed) takes away from what Spike was doing in Toronto in the first place (music in movies) and makes it looks like he has a problem with the majority of nominees, which I don’t think is the case. I do think his views are do in part to the snub he got in the late 80s and early 90s- it isn’t so much about winning but more about being recognized by one’s film peers. I also took note that Lee himself did not have a picture in 2010, and this off the cuff remark puts him back into that negative, sour grapes spotlight that some like to put him under.

It’s no big secret Lee frowns on the Oscars- but what do you think?

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21 thoughts on “Spike Lee Has No Oscar

  1. Wow! He went straight for the race card! Spike Lee is a racist. Everything is about race and he continues to create a larger divide between the races.

    1. Why is it that if nearly 50% of an industry isnt filled with a demographic that comprisese 12% of our population then people get outraged…. Indians (or native americans as white people call us) comprise .8% of the U.S. population. Now is it realistic for me to be angry that there are not more indians in hollywood when we make up less than 1% of the population? Good grief lol.

  2. Well when you have people like Tyler Perry, who is arguably the most successful black filmmaker right now, of course you’re not going to get Oscar love. Nevertheless, in the long run do the Oscars really mean anything? Half of the films that win Oscars don’t stand the test of time. Plus there is more diversity in Hollywood as ever before. Last year Geoffrey Fletcher won the Best Adapted Screenplay award, which was a momentous win.

  3. Hollywood should not be the target of these accusations. Hollywood exists just like any other business. They make the stuff they know people will buy the most of. If there is racial skew it reflects the movie-going public.

  4. Spike Lee needs to get over himself. I have seen him in person and he talked about diversity in Hollywood and how he had to make bad movies like “Inside Man” to be able to produce the films he liked to make. He said that the studios were denying him the funding to make a movie about Jackie Robinson basically because he was black. It was a little bit ridiculous. I think that Hollywood is extremely diverse at this point. Will Smith is one of the highest paid actors in the industry, a few years ago he pulled in $80million in one year. I don’t think Hollywood is racist, if anything Hollywood is sexist against women directors. I think Spike Lee just thinks he deserves an Oscar, and since he hasn’t gotten one yet, obviously there is something wrong with Hollywood.

      1. I agree. I really liked Inside Man.

        It’s a shame Lee feels that he had to make a bad movie in order to make a good movie like Miracle at St. Anna. I still can’t belive I paid to see that.

  5. I really respect Spike Lee as a filmmaker and thoroughly enjoy his films but I think his cynicism has gotten the best of him on this occasion. Lee saying “…We haven’t had opportunities to be in the films this past year…” is like me saying I haven’t had the opportunity to be in the films this past year. You have to pursue opportunity and Spike Lee of all people should know this. Its not like major studios are not picking certain racial types or films on purpose. I’m not saying that racial equality in America is perfect, but I don’t think one race being in Oscar nominated films vs. another race is intentional on The Acadamy’s part in any way. And anyone who actually believes that has again, let their cynicism get the best of them.

  6. I am indifferent about this one. On one hand the lack of diversity is only noticeable if you look for it and this issue isn’t limited to only film so I don’t truly think its fair to pick on Hollywood for an issue bigger than that. I do agree that African Americans fight an uphill battle when competing for roles in movies. I don’t agree with the way he words his statements as they are often abrasive and can be easily misconstrued. I think he does identify an issue but the problem with him is that he never has any suggestions on how to address these issues. If he really wants more African Americans being represented at the Academy Awards then he could always make Oscar worthy movies couldn’t he?

  7. I think it’s the lack of diversity overall in the hollywood industry. African Americans aren’t normally agents, producers, directors, or even in lead roles. I know there are exceptions, but that kinda proves the rule. Normally other ethnicities than white get character/supporting roles not lead roles.

    1. You might want to watch some movies again.

      I see nothing but diversity in Hollywood films. There are people in movies, skin colour is only what Spike Lee makes of it.

      Its time we didn’t bother keeping score on who gets film roles. That is the true racism.

      1. I have to disagree with that a bit. There is a being able to name drop a few high end people of color that are on the screen almost constantly (but not in as many lead roles and it seems to be the same few over and over like Will Smith) and and there is looking behind the camera and not seeing that many.

      2. I agree with Rodney it is ridiculous that Spike Lee is going after for being racism they did give Denzel the oscar for lead and nominated Hawk for supporting in Training Day. But Hawks character is the lead we follow him from the moment from he wakes to when he goes home the only scene Hawk is not in is when Denzel is shot at the end other than that Hawk is more runtime and also has the story revolving around him.

        As for race in hollywood it is more popular with white culture and black people are more likely to lean toward sports thats why there is more black in sports and more whites in films it has nothing to do with one being better than the other or one being discriminated.

      3. I think the real problem here is that diversity is not the opposite of racism. Having a token black guy in the film, or even winning the oscar doesn’t change the fact that the industry is dominated by caucasian males. There are places for African Americans, Hispanics and women, but there are only a few places, and those are consistently filled by the non-threatening faces with which we are so familiar, i.e., Will Smith, Salma Hayek, Sofia Coppola and others. I’m actually the most offended by Ezell’s statement:

        “As for race in hollywood it is more popular with white culture and black people are more likely to lean toward sports thats why there is more black in sports and more whites in films it has nothing to do with one being better than the other or one being discriminated.”

        Recognition and representation of African Americans in one arena does not in any way demonstrate where our interests lie. In the scheme of things, it is only recently that we have been recognized in sports, and that’s only because it was impossible to ignore the talents of a number of athletes. Until that happens in Hollywood, black filmmakers will be relegated to making films outside of Hollywood (Tyler Perry, reluctantly being allowed into the fold) and being recognized by Hollywood critics only when we happen to appear in big, critically acclaimed, largely approved Hollywood movies, which is every once in a while.

      4. I think there is a terrible lack of white people in Bollywood films or Asian cinema.

        Its a terrible thing where a white person cannot get work in a field so clearly racist against such minorities.

      5. I tend not to get involved in discussions about race, ’cause they usually quickly turn into a show of stupidity and/or racism from the ppl arguing on either side. But when admins start spewing out such condescending and sarcastic comments that are not only insulting but downright wrong, I feel the need to say something, so I will.

        It is absolutely true that Hollywood doesn’t come even close to representing the demographic situation in the US (why that is, I don’t know nor will I speculate on it). Nobody can say that this isn’t true when minorities make up more than a third of the population and yet they barely have any major presence in films. If you don’t think that’s true Rodney, then just give me 5 movies from a major American studio (no limited releases) that r released from now until March that have a minority as a lead or as the 2nd or 3rd man. If u can’t find them, then just keep going til you do. I’d really like to know how many weeks worth of movies you have to go through before getting those five.

      6. First of all, Kiyo just served. Honestly, too many people bitch about ‘racism’ in Hollywood. I really don’t understand it. How often do we hear about a black actor being all butthurt and complaining that Robert Downey Jr. stole the role from him because directors felt that a white man could play a black man better than a black man. In response, you would probably say, “Okay, well you’re retarded Ty. RDJ got the role as a white man playing a black man because that was what the script called for.” I don’t understand how there is racism in hollywood if scripts don’t call for lead actors… or minority actors… to be played by a black man (or latino, or russian, etc.).

        Rodney’s comment.. “I think there is a terrible lack of white people in Bollywood films or Asian cinema. Its a terrible thing where a white person cannot get work in a field so clearly racist against such minorities.” was extremely right on – and quite funny, to me I might add.

        As for recognition, as so seems to be the case with Lee, why should a film that isn’t good… or as good as the films around it… be recognized in any way?

        Idk, just sounds like all the people crying about racism are whining for the sake of whining.

      7. Although Ezell’s comment “As for race in hollywood it is more popular with white culture and black people are more likely to lean toward sports thats why there is more black in sports…” WAS pretty messed up and completely off base. I’m not coming from the same mindset, nor do I agree with such opinions.

    2. Alexa Vega is hispanic – From Prada to Nada
      Martin Lawrence/Brandon T Jackson – Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
      Vanessa Hudgens in Beastly (shes Filipina, Chinese,and Spanish)
      Hudgens and an ensemble cast of ethnicities lead Sucker Punch
      Michelle Rodriguez, Ramon Rodriguez, Ne-Yo , Michael Peña – Battle Los Angeles

      All before the end of March, all with predominate roles played by visible minorities.

      Not too shabby considering this makes up for a third of the major studio releases for the next two months. Unless you want to change the rules to indicate which of these don’t count.

      Considering ONLY a third of the US is made up of visible minorities, I don’t see this as racism or selective marketing at all.

      Lee is over stating and over generalizing.

      1. I think Bollywood reference is a bit off, how many white people are there in India?

        There are a lot of minority characters in movies. You’d have to blind not to see it. However how many of these roles are them playing a member of a minority? It’s very rare I see a black guy playing a movie and his main characteristic is being black. If he plays a doctor he is black doctor and says the things we’d expect of a black man and not a doctor. If it’s a white man, he is just a doctor.

        I’m no fan of spike lee, he over plays the race card a bit too much and substantially changed the message of Malcolm X in that adaptation but he has a point and is completely right to bring up the issue as long as this situation exists.

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