Written by: FFT Webmaster | January 27th, 2012
Coming just a few days after director Spike Lee launched an in-person tirade against the film industry at the question and answer segment of the world premiere of his film RED HOOK SUMMER, his co-writer on the film, James McBride, has further stoked the fire of controversy with an open letter published on Lee’s website homepage. McBride explicitly complained that mostly white Hollywood has been following the same rules regarding African-Americans since the dawn of the film industry. “Nothing in this world happens unless white folks says it happens. And therein lies the problem of being a professional black storyteller– writer, musician, filmmaker. Being black is like serving as Hoke, the driver in DRIVING MISS DAISY, except it’s a kind of TV series lasts the rest of your life. You get to drive the well-meaning boss to and fro, you love that boss, your lives are stitched together but only when the boss decides your story intersects with his or her life is your story valid.” In the letter, McBride pointed to the recently announced Oscar nominations as proof that industry interest in the African American experience is limited to how it intersects with white stories. He pointed out that Oscar nominations for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (of THE HELP) for playing maids did not represent much progress since Hattie McDaniel, Oscar’s first actress of color to win an award, who received her Oscar in 1940 for playing a maid in GONE WITH THE WIND. “The irony of this is too much”, McBride quipped. The truth is that this has not been a triumphant Sundance for Spike Lee. His self-financed film was not well received by critics and audiences and may very likely go for months before finding a small distributor willing to take it out.