Director Spike Lee is a talented artist and an epic jerk, as he has proved too many times to mention. Lee reached his pinnacle of unethical grandstanding when he tweeted out what he thought was George Zimmerman’s address while the New Black Panthers were offering a bounty on Trayvon Martin’s shooter’s head. The man is an incurable race-baiter, as well as a constant catalyst for racial division. Last night’s Oscars put all of this on display, as well as a feature we don’t see that often so blatantly displayed: Lee has the sportsmanship and grace of a 9-year old.
When Green Book won the Oscar for Best Picture (as many had predicted), Lee became visibly furious, then stood up and attempted to leave the Dolby Theater, the Associated Press reported. Lee stormed to the exit with his Oscar in hand, but was stopped by staffers who argued with him and eventually persuade him to return to his seat. Lee’s film BlacKkKlansman was also nominated for Best Picture, and had won earlier in the night for its screenplay, which was co-written by Lee.
So far, nobody has been able to recall another nominee behaving so childishly and disrespectfully after losing in an Oscar race. Lee was defiantly unapologetic after the show, joking that he thought he was at a Knicks game and reacting to a ref’s “bad call.” That comment is also unethical, as the Oscars are supposed to be a collegial celebration of the art of movie-making, with all involved at least publicly supportive of the final awards, whoever they go to.
Spike’s jerkism wasn’t restricted to his rude treatment of the Awards and his colleagues. When he won the screenplay Oscar with his writing partner, he began his turn at the mic with “Do not turn that mothefucking clock on!,” showing no respect for his audience, the show, and live TV decorum. Then he ended his muttered and barely discernible speech, read from notes, with a partisan political advertisement:
“The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize, let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.”
To state the obvious, it is not Lee’s place to hijack an awards presentation for his own political agenda. The “right side of history” line is signature significance for mindless certitude, and if there is anyone who should be estopped from extolling love over hate, it is the hateful Spike Lee. And, of course, this is the Big Lie again. Virtually all of the hate has been oozing from Lee’s side of the ideological divide since the 2016 election.
- President Trump really should learn to stop rising to the bait every time some jerk insults him. His tweet was petty and needless:
“Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African-Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!”
Ugh. The President often reads when he has formal addresses to deliver, and not any more skillfully than Spike Lee. There was also nothing racist in Lee’s comments.
- The news media is covering up for Lee, which is disgusting, if typical. On the local DC news channel this morning, Lee’s near walk-out wasn’t even mentioned, though I guarantee it is what the 2019 Oscars will be remembered for. Slate had this headline: “Spike Lee Finally Won an Oscar and Had the Best Reaction of the Night.”The “best reaction” was the diminutive Lee leaping into Samuel L Jackson’s arms like Yogi Berra after Don Larson’s perfect game. Then Slate doesn’t even mention his other reaction, presumably because it didn’t reflect well on an artist Slate likes. What lousy, slanted journalism! Slate’s caption for the photo above was “Need we say more?” Well, yes, Slate, you might report that Lee insulted the Academy and his colleagues by behaving like jilted prom queen.
Leaving out key facts is as bad as making them up. It is a variety of fake news.
- Media outlets that didn’t pretend Lee’s tantrum didn’t happen spun instead. Here’s Deadline Hollywood: “It is unlikely that Lee was being ungracious or a sore loser for not winning. This was about the undercurrent that seemed to follow Green Book through much of the race.”
Sure. Lee wasn’t “being ungracious or a sore loser” by throwing his arms in the air and stomping toward the exit when a film beat out his for Best Picture. Luckily for Spkie Lee, there are enough jerks in the media to minimize the damage from his own miserable conduct.