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April 04, 2003

Signs of Intelligent Life


One of our correspondents forwards some remarks made by Spike Lee at DePauw University on the state of the black urban high school experience:

It's much more dangerous today, and the reason I say that is this: when I was growing up we looked up to guys who were great athletes, guys who knew how to talk to the ladies, and, third but not least, guys who were intelligent. Now somehow between then and today, the whole value system has been upended...Because amongst many African American youth today, if you strive to become educated and get your grades, and speak correct English, and be able to speak a sentence without profanity, then you are ridiculed and ostracized as being a 'white boy' or 'white girl' or 'sellout', which is crazy. But if you're on the corner, drinkin' a 40, smokin' a blunt, and holdin' your privates, then you're keepin' it real. Its pathological and genocidal.

Apparently Spike considers today's music culture and gangsta rap a negative influence, including rapper 50 cent:

He's been shot 12 times, so its like---how much more legitimate can you get? He's been shot and lived to rap about it.

Spike's had his ups and downs in my estimation, but I have to applaud him here.



posted by Friedrich at April 4, 2003


I'm not eager to grant Spike much slack either, given the attitudes he tends to cop and the lousy movies he tends to make. But a round of applause for this. Thanks for passing it along.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 4, 2003 1:09 PM

Spike is a third generation college graduate (grandfather, father, and son all graduated from Morehouse in Atlanta). That's pretty rare even among white Americans. For example, I'm the first person in my direct lineage to graduate from a four year college. Guys like Spike Lee and Chris Rock tend to have quite conservative "family values" and dislike the decay in black culture, but they don't like white people very much, so they are hard to categorize.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on April 4, 2003 5:01 PM

I'm so relieved to hear someone else finger Spike as a poor filmmaker. Technically he's more than proficient - his movies look great and the actual direction of the shots is good. But his stories are terrible and always preachy. He can't seem to figure out how to end a film, either. Yick.

I agree with these comments of his, however. The great Stanley Crouch has articulated these themes as well.

Posted by: Yahmdallah on April 4, 2003 5:13 PM

From all accounts I've read, most of the really innovative visual stuff in Spike's movies came from Ernest Dickerson, his long0time DP...

Posted by: jimbo on April 4, 2003 7:19 PM

Right speech, wrong venue. DePauw, if I'm not wrong, is an upper-middle class, Dan Quayle-graduating type of place in heartland Indiana. I'd be surprised if there was any real representation of the gangsta demographic there. The reaction he met was most likely a kind of disdainful agreement from a comfortable distance. And complaining to this audience about the painful, derogatory "white boy" epithet is just too bizarre. I have always puzzled over the identity of Spike's audience, that is, beyond the critics and the cast and crew he employs. Are young black people still attracted to him, or has he all along been tailoring his message to the curious dilettante at a comfortable remove?

Posted by: M on April 6, 2003 9:01 PM

Not everyone in the world can afford a good education. This type of cultural diversity makes America what it is. We shouldn't be knocking people for thier needs to make a living. If I could do what any of these rappers do and make as much money as them I definetely would.

Posted by: Justin on July 23, 2003 5:26 AM

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