Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee, born March 20, 1957, turns 55 years old today! Wow! Time sure does fly, doesn’t it?
For some reason, he still feels 40-something to me. I had to pause for a minute to think about the fact that he’ll be 60 years old in a matter of 5 years. Or maybe it just reminds me that I am aging as well – we all are – and I’d prefer to think that the years aren’t moving along as briskly.
But they are; so, as the saying goes, carpe diem, or seize the day!
Back to Spike… long time readers of this website will know just how much the man’s name has been mentioned by just about all of us, both critically, and in adulation; you’ll find a good mix of commentary. He has been, after all, the most prominent black filmmaker since he burst onto the scene in the mid 1980s, and he’s still around, cranking out a film about once every 2 to 3 years or so, on average; you can’t really talk about black cinema today and not mention one Spike Lee.
And to celebrate his 55th birthday, let’s reminisce… your favorite Spike Lee moments… notice I didn’t ask specifically for your favorite Spike Lee films, rather those moments in which he roused, stirred you emotionally, agitated, titillated, awakened, incensed, humored, sensitize, etc, etc, etc… moments when he made you laugh, cry, angry, sad, and more.
These moments could be from scenes in his films (or entire films), films he’s produced, interviews he’s done, books he’s written, speeches/talks given, commercials he’s directed or starred in, and whatever else you can remember.
I think most would probably list Do The Right Thing as their favorite Spike Lee movie, but, I’ll actually go against the tide here and choose Bamboozled instead. It was Spike’s most scathing critique and an ambitious satire on race and the power of media, shot mostly on what was then a burgeoning technology that certainly wasn’t as widely used and embraced as it is today – digital video.
I’d say it wasn’t a coincidence that the film was released in the year 2000 – as a kind of call to action at the beginning of the new millennium. Yes, it’s a little longer than I think it should have been to be just as effective, and Spike doesn’t end it as efficiently as it begins, but I greatly appreciated the films overall potency. It worked for me, even though it was savaged by many critics, including Ebert and Roeper on their nationally televised film review program, which surprised me that these 2 top movie critics were so short-sighted as to miss the broader message behind Spike’s overtly satirical film. They practically dismissed it, which was unfortunate. I wonder if Ebert still feels that same about it today… But chime in with your own favorite Spike Lee moments.
Here’s a flashback: