Like a tandem-duo of righteousness, Spike Lee and Jesse Jackson are here to set American whites on the right path to the attributes and rules of justified white guilt. Jackson gets them as they walk to his office; with head down and hat in hand, and only after an ill advised career choice via a public spewing of the N-word from the latest celebrity. While on knee before his Royal Blackness he gingerly touches their slumped and regretful shoulders, and only after kissing his I-was-standing-next-to-Martin-Luther-on-that-fateful-day-ring, do they stand a better person, more attuned to the plight of the American Black. Spike, on the other hand, wants no apology for such transgressions. He simply does not want anyone, save for Spike Lee and any other black, to be allowed to reference this word, even if it is in the form of art or that of an outright denouncement of America’s most tabooed moniker. This from a man who criticized Clint Eastwood’s -double-feature of sorts- Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, and their collective lack of any black cast members. Eastwood argued- before telling Lee to “shut his face”, that, unfortunately, Jim Crow was still far from loosening his racist grip upon the nation and blacks were sadly (or maybe this was a good thing for them), not as prevalent as in the later Vietnam War. As Quentin Tarantino pondered with the seedlings of idea for his slavery era epic, I am sure the first thing he wrote in the corner of the title page column was a handwritten reminder not to use the N-word when referring to slaves of the 19th century lest Spike Lee take offense. Is this not why copies of the American masterpiece Huckleberry Finn have been burned and banned for decades? In Spike’s defense, perhaps he does not mind the occasional peppering of this ugly word strewn about when placed by a white writer, but it does seem that Tarantino has a special place in his heart for it.
The N- word itself is copyrighted by anyone of color in this nation and any infringement upon this contract of ownership, by a non-pigmented citizen, will result in a verbal assault by Lee; and after he tags him into the ring, a mandatory butt-kissing session with Jackson for good measure. Never mind that blacks of a more recent generation are adamant in upholding the ridiculous practice of changing the ending inflection of the word “Nigger” to that of “Nigga”. It would seem that rap music is the proverbial fly in the ointment when it comes to finally burying this ugly word once and for all. The one and only event of note that the “Reverend” Al Sharpton (along with the help of the NAACP) has ever held that I agree with whole-heartedly was his mock funeral for the N-word back in 2007. Like a previous event from years past in which black leaders held a “funeral” for the laws of Jim Crow, so too was Sharpton on the right track to ending the nonsense of it all.
With the recent Christmas release of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Tarantino is back with his specific brand of N-word laced dialogue, and Lee is up in arms once again at the white director’s nerve in doing so. After the release of Pulp Fiction in 1994, Spike Lee was more than irate at the audacity that this Caucasian artist showed in his obvious affection for the word. I myself remember the scene in which Tarantino, along with Samuel Jackson and John Travolta, asked Jackson directly if there was a sign above his house that read: “Dead nigger storage?” At the time I thought this brave and a tad quizzical that Jackson would be a part of such dialogue. Fast forward to Tuesday’s release of Django, and many an article was written on the difficulty that Jamie Fox and Leonardo DiCaprio had at uttering the word so many times at one another on set. Ironically, it was Samuel Jackson, also among the cast once again, to comment to DiCaprio to “get over it” as it was spoken in a professional setting and therefore acceptable. Spike Lee would disagree and his central problem with all this is that the colorful speech within the film is not Tarantino’s business, nor has he a right to speak of such matters concerning Lee’s people’s “Holocaust”. Never mind that Jews may be offended that Lee has compared his race’s tumultuous past to that of theirs. Comparing genocides is never a good situation. I sincerely like Spike Lee and the majority of his work over the years. I remember going to the theater with my wife (then girlfriend) to see Do the Right Thing back in 1989, and feeling a bit uneasy as Spike threw his trash can of agitation through the window of Sal’s pizza on that stifling hot summer day. The sold out theater crowd seemed to hold their breaths- or perhaps it was just myself and my wife and our whiteness- regardless, there was indeed a thick tension in the room as blacks and whites seemed worlds apart. My advice for Spike Lee is simple: take a deep breath, exhale, shut your face, and make more Do The Right Thing type movies.
BTW: This young man gets it…