If you don’t know who Spike Lee is, you probably don’t know much.
Ok. That was harsh. But I’m serious. He’s legendary. Spike Lee is responsible for some of the most important films in the last two decades. If you didn’t know, now ya know. But although Spike is larger than life to many people, he still has not been acknowledged by the Academy for his many contributions. Until now. Apparently, the Academy wants to present Spike with an “Honorary Oscar” this November. And that’s great and all, but the truth is, I have a real problem with how this thing is being played out.
This week, the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted to present Spike Lee with an Honorary Oscar.
This award is meant “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy.”
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) August 27, 2015
“The Board is proud to recognize our honorees’ remarkable contributions at this year’s Governors Awards,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “We’ll be celebrating their achievements with the knowledge that the work they have accomplished – with passion, dedication and a desire to make a positive difference – will also enrich future generations.”
Listen. I’m glad my boy is finally getting acknowledged for all of his greatness, but this isn’t good enough. And when Spike gets up on that stage on November 14th, this is what I want him to say:
First of all, I want to thank God. I want to thank my parents. I want to thank my family. I love you Tonya. I love you kids.
I’m here today to accept an Honorary Oscar. I’m humbled. I truly wasn’t expecting this. But this isn’t about me today. What I want to say is this:
I deserve this award.
You see, Academy, I like so many others that came before me DESERVE this award.
Sure, we can win awards for our portrayal as slaves, athletes, singers, bad cops and whores, but when it comes to our thoughts, OUR voices…our REAL, multi-layered, multi-faceted stories, somehow we get shut out of the race. Movies like Gone With the Wind, Training Day, Monster’s Ball, Glory, 12 Years a Slave, The Help, Precious, get lots of recognition. For some reason, we don’t hesitate to applaud those stories.
Oh, and of course, when we’re singing, we win too. Purple Rain, Shaft, It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp…yea, they fit the mold.
Yet, when we address racism in the present day, when we talk about our relationships, our love, our sex, our pain…when we tell the stories from OUR perspective…when we’re laughing, having a genuinely good time simply being BLACK on the silver screen for the world to see, it isn’t worthy of your award.
You know, I think that’s interesting. Considering I’m the man behind classics like Do the Right Thing, Crooklyn, Malcolm X, School Daze, Jungle Fever…the list goes on, you’d think I’d HAVE at least ONE of these little gold men by now.
I have to say, word around town is some people are a little surprised that I’m being honored here tonight. And to them I say–you shouldn’t be. I am a filmmaker. I’m a director. And I’m damn good at it. As a graduate of Morehouse College, I had no choice BUT to be great.
So as I close, I just think it’s high time that MORE Black artists win some Oscars around here. And not just for soundtracks, or slave movies. But for movies that mean something to us. Our stories are important too. Our stories matter.
While I am thankful for this award, and thrilled to be receiving it, I hope that in the years to come, the Academy will stop overlooking the many talented Black actors, playwrights, and directors simply because they can’t relate to the story. Hopefully people will have enough respect for them to give them an Oscar, at the Academy Awards, in front of their peers.
Thank you. And God bless.
Now THAT’S what I want Spike to say!
Although I’m sure he won’t go THAT hard, Spike has been known to give some heavy hitting speeches…so we’ll see what he comes up with.
What do you think about Spike receiving an honorary Oscar? Too little, too late?
UPDATE VIA E! NEWS:
Spike Lee has once again put Hollywood on blast.
“Everybody in here probably voted for Obama but when I go to offices, I see no black folks except for the brother man at the security who checks my name off the list as I go into the studio,” the director said last night while receiving an honorary Oscar at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ seventh annual Governors Awards. “So we can talk ‘yabba yabba yabba’ but we need to have some serious discussion about diversity and get some flavor up in this. This industry is so behind sports it’s ridiculous.”
“It’s easier to be the president of the United States as a black person than be the head of a studio,” he continued. “Honestly, it’s easier to be president of the United States than the head of a studio or head of network.”
Lee urged Hollywood executives to take a closer look at the people around them.
“I don’t know if you noticed but the United States census bureau says by the year 2043, white Americans are going to be the minority in this country,” he said. “And all you people out there in the position of hiring, you better get smart because you’ll work for us. Reflect what this country looks like.”
WELL alright Spike! I knew you wouldn’t let me down!