Spike Lee

He Started Off Small And Became A Huge Success

 IMG_0054[1]Spike Lee was an ever present actor / producer in Hollywood, and was know as a controversial figure in the public eye when dealing with racial issues. Born on March 20, 1957 to Jacqueline Carroll a black literature teacher and William James Edward Lee III who was a performing jazz musician & composer.

Out of the other siblings in the family, his mother would coin him the nickname “Spike”, of course later on he would go by the name Spike Lee which many know him by largely because of the films that he made over the years and commercials that he starred in as well (like “Mike” or Air Jordan Shoe Commercials is what he did a lot.)

He also did a few Levi’s commercials in IMG_0050[1]the mid-90’s, he was the director that help to put together ideals to market the sale of the famous brand jeans.

After graduating from John Dewey High School, Lee would go on to make his first film at Morehouse College, then he started to take up film classes at Clark Atlanta University and he graduated from Morehouse with a BA – bachelor’s associate degree in Mass Communication.

From there he would go to Tisch School in New York, earning a Master in Fine Arts for Film & Television. From there skies was the limit making film after film, he introduced one called “Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop” that was his student film work that was showcase in Lincoln Center’s New Directors New Films Festival.

IMG_0051[1]After that in 85′ he brought out his creative touch, with he released movie “She’s Gotta Have It” that he did in two weeks. The following year it was released into theaters, taking in $7 million in the U.S.

Then there was “Do The Right Thing” in 89′ that also grossed well at the box office, that would be the film to be nominated for best original screen play followed by “Driving Miss Daisy” which won best picture that year.

Lee was subjected to controversy in 2007 when he was interview with New York Magazine, and the focus was of his perceptions in his movies often being looked at in a racist fashion (he was criticize even though he shared with society the harsh truth about color barriers and safe stereotypes in films).

IMG_0052[1]Then in the 90’s he faced more criticism for movies such as “Mo’ Better Blues”, Lee was also accused of antisemitism (discrimination against Jews’ religious beliefs) by various film critics.

(Spike Lee’s Films “Malcolm X” & Miracle at St. Anna)

The characters depicted in the movie focus on two club owners named Moe & Josh Flatbrush, which identified them to the reference as “Shylocks” which is deemed as offensive. Lee would later clear up the meaning, which was how black performing artists struggled to get noticed when it came to claiming fame in the old days.

IMG_0053[1]Lee released that movie that implicated antisemitism would not work in his films, so he stepped back from that venture all together.

After doing a documentary called “4 Little Girls” that discusses the events of a church bombing that happened back in 1963 in Alabama, it received a best feature documentary award. Ten years later Lee receives the San Francisco Society’s Directing Award, the following year he received the Wexner Prize.

Last year he won The Dorothy & Lillian Gish Prize, an American prized art item worth almost half a million dollars.

IMG_0056[1]He came a long way today he is still active in various issues, the recent one was the George Zimmerman trail.

The creation of the T.V. Channel “Spike TV” caught heat from Spike Lee for circumstantial reasons, that was because the cable channel network used his nickname and Lee felt that the issue was one that crossed the line due to that name being given to him by his Mother since he was a kid.

(the “Spike TV” logo that pissed off Spike)

Another involvement would be the events of “Hurricane Katrina” that destroyed New Orleans, Lee confronted the Government in terms of his opinions toward blacks that lived there. He felt that the U.S. Government did not care to assist blacks after the tragic events of Katrina, the damage and carnage done to their homes and businesses and without funding they would be forced to leave New Orleans all together.

IMG_0055[1]This is what Lee fashioned that the Government was planning to remove blacks out of New Orleans, this was a perfect opportunity for them to do so after the hurricane had struck and leaving it’s aftermath behind.

(Cover of Eastwood’s movie “Flags of Our Fathers”)

Then it was the movie that actor / director Clint Eastwood had made about U.S. division going to war for Italy in WWII (World War 2), Lee criticized Eastwood for not acknowledging black Marines that fought in the war that was left out of his film “Flags of Our Fathers”. Lee and Eastwood had a difference of opinions, which cause backlash between the two Eastwood was telling Lee to shut his face while Lee was calling Eastwood a old angry man.

Recently Lee is now about to make another film that will be a sequel of his 2006 movie “Inside Man”, also in the works will be documentaries that he will do on both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. 

(Spike Lee’s base of films over the years)

Spike Lee

(By: Jaye Irons)

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