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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Spike Lee: Seismic Shift

Lee's own mission is to upend the Hollywood myth-making apparatus that has mostly ignored the contributions of the one million African-Americans who served in the second world war. It's the reason he launched his bitter war of words with Clint Eastwood at this year's Cannes film festival, berating the film-maker over the paucity of black faces in his 2006 double bill, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. It's also why Miracle opens with an old, embittered black veteran watching stone-faced as John Wayne parades through the 1962 drama The Longest Day on his television.

"It is not a mistake that this film begins with Wayne. This is the Hollywood bullshit mythology that excludes one million people," says Lee. "You look at John Wayne - what did he represent? In the second world war films, John Wayne is kicking Nazi ass, and in the Pacific he's kicking Japanese ass. And if it's a western, he's killing the savage Indian. This film is a rebuttal to the same mythology that demeans other people. We have to change this shit. We cannot continue putting out these lies again and again. Young people growing up have no idea that this stuff even happened."


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