Even when we don't agree with him, we like to listen to Spike Lee talk about pretty much anything. Which is easy, because he's fairly...outspoken. In New York Magazine, Will Leitch chats with Lee at length about everything from Basketball to Bloomberg to the representation of Black people in historical fiction. Here are some highlights from that world inside Spike Lee's mind:
- Malcolm X would not get made today, without superpowers. "I think that it is a different climate today," Lee told Leitch. "I do not think Oliver Stone gets JFK made today. Unless they can make JFK fly. If they can’t make Malcolm X fly, with tights and a cape, it’s not happening."
- Mookie returns to a gentrified Brooklyn. In Lee's Red Hook Summer, which opens in August, Mookie (from Do the Right Thing!) returns to a changed Brooklyn. "There’s gentrification of Cobble Hill," Lee said. "Fort Greene’s gentrified, Harlem was gentrified, Bed-Stuy’s gentrified, and Williamsburg is gentrified. People lived on the Lower East Side and got priced out of there. Then you moved to Williamsburg—oh, it became too hip. Now they are going to Bushwick. What is going to happen to Bushwick? Next thing, after Coney Island, there is the Atlantic Ocean."
- New York City will cease to be great if it is entirely populated by rich people. "This goes across all races—this is not a black and white thing," he told Leitch. "New York City cannot just be rich. It will lose its entire flavor if it is."
Bloomberg's proposed soda ban would benefit Black people. "Look, when I was growing up in Brooklyn, we had gym, and you had to run," Lee said. "Children today in public schools across the country are not being taught art, are not being taught music, and they have no physical ed... Americans—we’re just obese...Ask African-Americans. We are way over index on obesity, which means we are over index on diabetes, heart disease, and it goes down the line."
- What's happening, Mitt? When Leitch asked what Lee thought of Romney, Lee said he met him Reagan International Airport. "It was, like, two, three years ago," he said. "I was just in D.C. and he was there and he said, 'What’s up, Spike?' and I said, 'What’s happening, Mitt?' We were in line getting something to eat. So I said what’s up and shook hands. I think [the presidential race is] going to be very, very, very close."
- Films that explore the depth of the African-American experience currently need to be made outside of the Hollywood studio system. "This comes down to the gatekeepers, and I do not think there is going to be any substantial movement until people of color get into those gatekeeper positions of people who have a green-light vote," Lee told Leitch. "That is what it comes down to. We do not have a vote, and we are not at that table when it is decided what gets made and what does not get made. Whether it is Hollywood films, network or cable television, we are not there. When I first started making films and I would have Hollywood meetings—and I know this for a fact—they would bring black people out of the mailroom to be in the meeting."