Isaiah L. Carter

Isaiah L. Carter
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Baltimore, Maryland, USA
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December 31
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Born of the Right, and Glad I Left. Politics Writer at The UB Post. Baltimore born, NYC made. You can follow me on Twitter @IsaiahLCarter, and can view my daily blurbs on my Tumblr: isaiahlcarter.tumblr.com. I look forward to great dialogue and discussing new ideas!

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Salon.com
DECEMBER 26, 2012 5:50PM

Spike Lee Needs to Have A Seat

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The illegal drug of choice here for many in the city of Baltimore is heroin; a powerful, dangerous substance that has destroyed many a life here in this town. From the party where an unfortunate soul gets their first blast of the drug, many a soul here has spent an entire lifetime chasing that first deceptively blissful, forever elusive high, often being frozen in time in the era they started using. With prolonged abuse, nothing else matters; achieving that first blast becomes their raison d'etre.

One of the worst traits of humanity, proven true over the course of our history, is that of bitterness. With characteristics like that of heroin, bitterness can be seductive, even invigorating at times, stirring a soul to action against a person, place, thing or idea in response to a perceived slight or personal insult. At the same time, bitterness is corrosive and harmful, sometimes causing irrevocable damage to life, career, and reputation as hatred and jealousy are spewed about with great enjoyment. To one enthralled with bitterness, the consequences don't matter, and everyone must be made to feel how deep their hurt is rooted.

However, far too often those controlled by their bitterness become laughingstocks; pariahs in lands where their names at one time demanded great reverence.  Their past glories and successes matter to none anymore; all that remains is the shell, the leftovers of those who let their hurt define their life. Similarly, no-one remembers who the heroin addict may have been before the drugs took hold; they remember the body odor, the track marks, and the nodding out at the bus stop.

Those of us who write about politics can write thousands of words' worth of pieces on figures like Senator John McCain, whose loss to Barack Obama in 2008 was the catalyst for his new reason for living: opposing the President by any means necessary, and on every issue imaginable. Outside of politics, though, one man stands out as another well-known, shining example of bitterness, and can be found at every Knicks home game, clad in orange and blue.

That's right, Spike Lee, I'm looking at you.

You used to be great at one time in your life, and came to define the Black struggle through the turbulent 1980s. As urban areas were decimated by crack, despair, and rising poverty, you gave us films such as School Daze and Do the Right Thing. Your movies were powerful, gritty, and told stories that would otherwise go unheard in that era. At one time, sir, you were the quintessential voice of Blackness, especially after your epic,Malcolm X.

Then other people came to Hollywood, with other perspectives of the Black experience. Other Black directors, such as Tyler Perry, drew your ire back in 2009, becoming enough to where Perry, a monumental success at box offices across the country, told you to go "directly to hell" after you referred to his work as "coonery and buffoonery." After being that powerful voice that many came to respect, in baring your teeth in jealous rage against Perry you came to embody the hater that no-one can stand to be around.

So now that Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's latest epic that tells the story of an escaped slave who, as Foxx himself said in an interview, is simply "trying to get his girl (Kerry Washington) back", you go right back into jealous, bitter, "what-about-me" mode, this time invoking ancestry?

In a tweet you said, "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western. It Was A Holocaust. My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa. I Will Honor Them." Still feeling yourself, you added later in another interview, "All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors to see that film. That's the only thing I'm gonna say. I can't disrespect my ancestors. I can't do it. Now, that's me. I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody but myself. I can't do it."

Spike, your last relevant movie, if not long, redundant and superfluous, was 2008's Miracle at St. Anna. Since then, your movies and other works have been largely undermined by your jealousy and envy of others, who seem to have just "showed up" to greater box office success and accolades. Maybe if you offered something other than envious, elitist mocking, maybe people would come back to see your films, especially since Tarantino actually played in one of your films, but your history of burning bridges precedes you, doesn't it?

For someone of your filmmaking acumen, you make yourself look small and petty when you do things like this. So please, Spike, do better than this.

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I agree. Color aside (as Lee's trying to make it about that also, it sounds like), he's definitely just throwing out some ugly jealousy. That doesn't help him whatsoever in the limelight. I read in an article about this issue yesterday how a commentator was saying that white directors (etc.) shouldn't be doing "black" films. I'd imagine vice versa, then, right? I frankly don't think it matters. If you get the historical facts right, and aren't making anyone look like a fool who wasn't cast to be as such, then just take in the movie for what it is. I'm not sure personally if I'll see it just because that stuff upsets me. I remember as a little girl in elementary school, being introduced to the era of when slaves were escaping when I found a book about Harriet Tubman. I just ate up that type of literature afterwards. This movie seems gruffer than that, but we'll see.