Spike Lee: Finding the Story and Forcing the Issue: Finding the Story and Forcing the Issue (Modern Filmmakers)

Spike Lee: Finding the Story and Forcing the Issue: Finding the Story and Forcing the Issue (Modern Filmmakers)

Language: English

Pages: 384


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Spike Lee's journey from guerrilla filmmaker to Hollywood insider is explored in light of his personal background, the cultural influence of his films, and the extensive scholarship his movies have inspired.

• Examines the full range of Lee's career, including the five film books he authored or coauthored, his feature films, his television projects, and his documentaries

• Offers a comprehensive, scholarly analysis of how, as both an American and African American filmmaker, Lee tells stories that might otherwise have remained untold on American movie screens

• Analyzes Lee's place in a rich tradition of African American filmmaking that includes Oscar Micheaux, Gordon Parks, Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and John Singleton

• Discusses the influence directors such as Martin Scorsese and Melvin Van Peebles have had on Lee

• Reveals how Lee's films expose little-known aspects of American social issues, historical events, and public figures

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significant articles ever published about Lee’s filmography, “But Compared to Men at Work 21 What?: Reading Realism, Representation, and Essentialism in School Daze, Do the Right Thing, and the Spike Lee Discourse,” to declare, “Although Do the Right Thing received far more positive press than School Daze, perhaps because its working-class subjects seemed more ‘authentic’ to critics than the middle-class subjects of School Daze, I contend that School Daze is the more complicated movie” even

argues that School Daze’s characters should “not be read as realistic Men at Work 23 figures but rather as animated constructs that mobilize and put on display certain values (individualism) as well as certain ideological discourses (patriarchy),”98 nonetheless finds that Lee offers “a sharper critique of the class differences within the African American community that operate as a constant source of conflict prohibiting a monolithic experience based simply on race.”99 The female characters,

strict realism while paradoxically invoking real-world issues: “Thus, if we view Sal and the black youths in the film as vehicles for expressing some of the shifting racial moods and sensibilities of the late twentieth century, then the politics of the film become much more dynamic and discernible: the intensification of racial tension between black youth, downwardly mobile whites, and institutions of social control.”68 Do the Right Thing, in this reading, does not ignore social or institutional

dreams that float across the nation’s screens.”19 This analysis demonstrates how Lee participates in a lineage stretching back to commercial American cinema’s earliest days, one that bucks Hollywood trends by producing assertive movies that dramatize African American lives, culture, and history from an insider’s perspective. Lee’s closest contemporary in terms of prolificacy is Tyler Perry, who has written, directed, and produced at least eighteen feature films, fifteen stage plays, and five

exceptionalism and epic heroism because of the cultural barriers that barred black admittance to those categories,” Stevens underscores how “Lee’s Malcolm X reinscribes the figure of a ‘shining’ black masculinity in response to the institutionalized and systematic targeting of black men constituted as the embodiment of criminality and threat.”94 The film’s patriarchal mindset, no less than the Autobiography’s, may be a regrettable response to these ongoing circumstances, but Lee misses a prime

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