Spike Lee: blacks portrayed better in films but work remains to be done
Spike Lee says he’s seen progress in the way blacks are portrayed in film since his 1986 feature debut, “She’s Gotta Have It,” but there’s plenty of work to be done.
“Black film is still in a ghetto,” the director told a crowd of about 1,700 students at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. “There are broad comedies and hip-hop drug things and broad comedies. It’s difficult as a director or actor to go outside of that.”
He targeted “Barbershop,” which contained jokes about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “The Green Mile,” which featured characters Lee called “super-duper magical mystical Negroes.”
“They had magic powers that couldn’t change their situations, but could only help the white stars of the movie,” he said. “What’s the point?”
The 46-year-old filmmaker, whose movies include “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “25th Hour,” was the final speaker Monday in the school’s Distinguished Speaker Series.
Spike Lee says Janet Jackson’s breast baring a “new low” for entertainers
Film director Spike Lee criticized Janet Jackson’s surprise breast-baring during the Super Bowl halftime show last weekend as a “new low” of attention-getting antics by entertainers.
There has been a decline in artistry, Lee said while speaking at Kent State University’s regional campus in Stark County, Ohio, on Tuesday night.
Lee said it’s not enough to be a good singer, and that entertainers “have to do something extra” — such as the openmouthed kiss Madonna gave Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera during the MTV Video Music Awards in August.
“What’s gonna be next? It’s getting crazy, and it’s all down to money. Money and fame,” said Lee, the director of “Malcolm X” and “Do the Right Thing.” “Somehow the whole value system has been upended.”
Jackson issued another apology in a videotape released to the media. The pop star had apologized Monday night in a written statement.
“I am really sorry if I offended anyone. That was truly not my intention,” she said. “MTV, CBS, the NFL had no knowledge of this whatsoever, and unfortunately, the whole thing went wrong in the end.”
At the end of their duet Sunday, Justin Timberlake snatched off part of Jackson’s bustier on stage, revealing a breast clad only in a sun-shaped “nipple shield” to some 89 million viewers.
Jackson’s spokeswoman, Jennifer Holiner, said a red lace garment was supposed to remain when Timberlake tore off the outer covering. But widespread questions remained about the intent.
The one-second flashing continued to cause reverberations Tuesday, as CBS said it would institute a video delay system to avoid any recurrence at the Grammy awards.
Timberlake, who is nominated for five Grammy Awards, is scheduled to perform on Sunday’s telecast. Jackson is supposed to present an award.
“Unfortunately, we cannot count on those who appear on our air to live up to our standards,” said Martin Franks, CBS executive vice president.
CBS faces a Federal Communications Commission investigation into whether the Super Bowl show violated decency laws, with potential fines of up to $27,500. If applied to each CBS station, the fine could reach into the millions.
FCC chief Michael Powell said Tuesday that the agency had begun a formal investigation, and a letter was sent to CBS. “It’s well under way,” he said.
All five commissioners expressed concern about the Super Bowl broadcast, but Powell declined to speculate on what the FCC would do once the investigation was finished.
Powell said he wasn’t happy with the halftime show in general, which featured performances by Nelly and Kid Rock before the bump-and-grind duet with Jackson and Timberlake. Nelly gestured toward his crotch, while Kid Rock draped himself in an American flag-designed poncho.
Tom Freston, chairman of MTV Networks, said he welcomed the FCC’s investigation, which he said will prove that the show’s producers and broadcasters had no prior knowledge of the stunt. MTV produced the halftime show.
“We were really ripped off. We were punk’d by Janet Jackson,” Freston said, referring to MTV’s reality show that makes celebrities the butt of practical jokes.
AP writers Seth Sutel and Nekesa Mumbi Moody contributed to this report.
America is full of hypocrites…. why are they making such an issue over her breast?
Now they’re saying that other R&B female singers are distancing themselves from Janet:
R&B divas keep their distance from Janet Jackson
When it comes to the Janet Jackson breast scandal, solidarity among her fellow R&B superstars appears to only go so far.
At a news conference on Thursday to promote an upcoming joint tour, younger divas Beyonce Knowles, Alicia Keys and Missy Elliott largely dodged the issue of Jackson’s televised indiscretion after reporters sought comment over the objections of a publicist.
‘‘I’m a big fan of Janet,” Elliott finally said. ‘‘I’m not here to judge … I stand behind her always, so that’s all I have to say about it.”
Keys chimed in with an ‘‘Absolutely,” while Knowles sidestepped a question about Jackson’s state of mind during a photo shoot the day after the Super Bowl.
The lack of enthusiastic support seemed palpable as the 37-year-old Jackson deals with fallout from Sunday’s Super Bowl in Houston, where her right breast was exposed during the half-time show.
Jackson, who has apologized for the incident, is said by her publicist to have bowed out of Sunday’s Grammy Awards, where she was due to introduce a tribute to stroke-afflicted soul singer Luther Vandross.
Spokesmen at CBS, which will air the telecast, declined to comment on her involvement, but syndicated TV news show ‘‘Extra” reported Thursday that she has been replaced by Patti Labelle.
Pop singer Justin Timberlake, Jackson’s partner-in-crime at the Super Bowl, remains on the Grammys roster as a performer, while Keys and Knowles also will perform.
The breast-flashing stunt by Jackson, who is due to release her first album in three years next month, has inadvertently spurred a federal probe into television broadcasting. NBC has decided to delete a brief shot of an elderly woman’s breast from Thursday’s episode of medical drama ‘‘ER,” while CBS and ABC will air their respective Grammy and Academy awards shows on a tape delay in the event of any naughty behavior.
The unnamed Knowles-Keys-Elliott tour of U.S. arenas, meanwhile, will begin March 12 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
‘‘It’s about females coming together and being able to work together, and we haven’t had that,” Elliott said, referring to the tour’s all-black talent lineup. ‘‘This is like history in the making.”
CBS is a unit of Viacom Inc., ABC is a unit of the Walt Disney Co. and NBC is a unit of General Electric Co.