Friday, October 14, 2005


Spike Heads South

Brooklyn-based director Spike Lee -- who has never shied from controversy in his features School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), Jungle Fever (1991), Malcolm X (1992), and Get on the Bus (1996) or his Academy Award-nominated documentary, 4 Little Girls (1997) -- has announced that he will head south to storm-ravaged Louisiana to do a documentary on the political and social fallout from hurricane Katrina, and the government's response to it. I have always thought Lee to be a talented filmmaker (albeit, at times, a racist one). And I was in agreement that Do the Right Thing deserved a nomination for Best Picture the year it was released. (Lee was nominated for writing it.) But on first blush, the Katrina project seems as if Lee is going to New Orleans with a racially-motivated agenda already in place. Perhaps he will be surprised by what he finds when he arrives. Perhaps he will be able to present a fair and balanced film document of the reactions on all sides to the hurricane. Perhaps. But in a post-Michael Moore world of highly subjective documentaries, I tend to think that Lee's film will push a pre-determined agenda -- to the exclusion of balanced reporting. Such a film will certainly stir things up, but to what end? Is it Lee's intention to heal racial issues or pour salt on opened wounds? Guess we'll find out soon enough.

Maybe a portion of America is racist? Maybe it is an issue that still needs to be focused on, regardless if it is in vogue.
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