Following three weeks of protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been a massive call for people to educate themselves and to access resources to do so. And what seems to be apt timing for such a demand, director and screenplay writer Spike Lee released Da 5 Bloods at a crucial time. Despite mixed reviews, it can be agreed as his most ambitious albeit most important project to-date and off the back of his success with Blackkklansman which saw its release in 2018, this is a welcomed return.
Speaking to Variety during an interview to promote the new film, Lee was asked how Hollywood must change to allow more Black stories to be told. His answer was straightforward.
“It’s very simple. Very few, if any Black and brown people are gatekeepers, and by that, I mean that they have a ‘green light vote,’ that they’re in the meeting when these white folds sit down and decide what we’re f–king gonna make. And what motherf—ing we ain’t making,” Lee tells the publication.
According to Film Fatales Organisation – a not-for-profit advocating for parity in film – 94 percent of Hollywood executives are white and 87 percent of directors across all platforms are white.
What makes Da 5 Bloods different is its focus on Black Americans in the Vietnam War of 1955 to 1975, where the tale would normally focus on their white American counterparts. The synopsis reads: From Academy Award Winner Spike Lee comes a New Joint: the story of four African-American Vets — Paul (Delroy Lindo), Otis (Clarke Peters), Eddie (Norm Lewis), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock, Jr.) — who return to Vietnam. Searching for the remains of their fallen Squad Leader (Chadwick Boseman) and the promise of buried treasure, our heroes, joined by Paul’s concerned son (Jonathan Majors), battle forces of Man and Nature — while confronted by the lasting ravages of The Immorality of The Vietnam War.
“I understand that there are generations of people who were not born at the Vietnam War and might not know anything about it,” he adds, explaining why he assumes the role of educator. “I can’t be one of these people saying it that the young generation is ignorant because they will know something. If the younger generation doesn’t know something, it’s because the older generation did not teach them.”
Spike Lee was in the headlines for another reason this week after he vouched for Woody Allen following allegations of sexual assault. “I’d just like to say Woody Allen is a great, great filmmaker and this cancel thing is not just Woody. And I think when we look back on it we are going to see that — short of killing somebody — I don’t know you that you can just erase somebody like they never existed,” Lee said. He has since apologised after a wave of backlash in a Tweet, saying, “I deeply apologise. My words were wrong. I do not and will not tolerate sexual harassment, assault or violence. Such treatment causes real damage that can’t be minimised.”
I Deeply Apologize. My Words Were WRONG. I Do Not And Will Not Tolerate Sexual Harassment, Assault Or Violence. Such Treatment Causes Real Damage That Can't Be Minimized.-Truly, Spike Lee.
— Spike Lee (@SpikeLeeJoint) June 13, 2020