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Happy 57th Birthday Spike Lee! Reminisce With Us – Our & Your Favorite “Spike Moments”

Happy 57th Birthday Spike Lee! Reminisce With Us - Our & Your Favorite "Spike Moments"

Shelton Jackson SpikeLee, born March 20, 1957, turns 57 years old today! Wow! Time sure does fly, doesn’t it?

I had to pause for a minute to think about the fact that he’ll be 60 years old in a matter of 3 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 and how often the man’s name is been mentioned by just about all of us, both critically, as well as in adulation. You’ll find a good mix of commentary. He has been, after all, the most prominent black filmmaker in this country, 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 Mr Spike Lee.

And to celebrate his 57th birthday, let’s reminisce… specifically, what are your favorite Spike Lee moments. Notice I didn’t ask for only your favorite Spike Lee films; so feel free to include those moments in which Spike roused and stirred you, whether psychologically or physically; moments, on film, and not on film, when he agitated, titillated, awakened, incensed, humored, sensitize,  you; Moments in any of his films, or Spike himself in person, made you laugh, cry, angry, sad, and more.

These moments could be from scenes in his films, or they could be 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.

In my case, I think most would probably list Do The Right Thing as their favorite Spike Lee jointe 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 still burgeoning technology that certainly wasn’t as widely used and embraced as it is today – we call it digital video now. 

That was 14 long years ago!

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 (at least, in my not-so humble opinion); But I greatly appreciated the films overall potency. It worked for me, even though it was savaged by many film critics, including, surprisingly, Ebert and Roeper on their nationally televised film review program. It surprised me that 2 of the nation’s 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 both were still alive today, would still feel that same about the film today.

But chime in with your own favorite Spike Lee moments – on film, or otherwise. I’m sure, for some of you, his recent public invective on gentrification in Brooklyn will rank highly.

Here’s a flashback for my choice:

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tolly devlin

My favorite Spike Lee moment was catching the Chicago premiere of She's Gotta Have It at the Fine Arts movie theater during the last day of that years Black Light Film Fest. The general release of the film was still a few months away but I remember feeling that this was a fulfillment of the promise he had shown with Joe's Bed-Stuy… & also a fresh voice in Black independent cinema. Spike was also present for that screening & came across , at that time , as a rather shy & reticent young man. Most of his recent stuff , with the exception of his two Katrina doc's, have not impressed me.

Miles Ellison

Spike Lee has made some great films in his career. Bamboozled was a high point because it was not only historically instructive, it was prophetic.

CareyCarey

"let's reminisce… specifically, what are your favorite Spike Lee moments. Moments in any of his films, or Spike himself in person, made you laugh, cry, angry, sad, and more." Tambay

I got one and it's all in the family. Well… actually, this story involves S&A's Sergio, CareyCarey and Spike Lee.

I've been riding with Spike Lee since his 1986 breakout movie She's Gotta Have It. Back then, aside from a few movies starring Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte and Richard Pryor, I can't remember if a movie featured a black cast or if the directors were black. Well, there were movies like Super Fly, Shaft, Cotton Comes To Harlem, and those black exploitation movie, but Spike's narrative and direction was a new day.

Before Spike Lee's arrival, many black faces in cinema were reduced to caricatures displaying people of color in a negative light. We took it all with a kind of astringent good humor, refusing at times, even to consider defending those false images, because, for the most part, we didn't have enough avenues to do that.

But now, as the world turns, we now have a black president, and I, a black man, was given the opportunity; in this racist society, to express my opinions in a local newspaper, that in which I intend to share parts of this post.

Much has been written about race and racism; I personally feel that it will demand a far less guilty and constricted people than the present-day American to be able to assess it all; it’s importance to the survival of our society, however, I can safely assume that others, albeit begrudgingly, need to hear the narratives/voices from my people of color. Continue….

Mark V

Not a lot people lining up for the "S&A Spike Lee Booty Kiss" here. Well, the day is young, yet.

Kevin

Do you mean Siskel and Ebert? Richard Roeper is still alive and well.

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