Filmmaker Spike Lee was awarded an Oscar on Sunday night for his work on the best adapted screenplay of the year, BlacKkKlansman. In accepting the award, he took the stage with gratitude for his forebears, and also delivered a unifying and positive political message for the present day. “I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people,” he said, recalling his late grandmother who supported him through film school. “We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity.” He called upon the country to be “on the right side of history” for the 2020 election. “Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing!”
The last line, of course was a reference to his Oscar-nominated film Do the Right Thing, which failed to earn him the prize for Best Original Screenplay during the 62nd annual Academy Awards. For this year’s Best Picture award, BlacKkKlansman was passed over for Green Book, which had Lee angry-sipping on extra glasses of champagne backstage. “Everytime somebody’s driving somebody, I lose,” he quipped. Do the Right Thing was not nominated at the time for Best Picture; instead, the classic white savior story of Driving Miss Daisy took home the main prize that year.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) February 25, 2019
Backstage, Lee also had the chance to elaborate upon the politics that he brought to the main stage. When asked about how his film BlacKkKlansman has changed society, he volunteered that he didn’t know exactly how to answer, but ended up explicitly calling out President Trump for failing to acknowledge the modern-day existence of the klan. “What I do know: The coda of this film where we saw homegrown red-white-and-blue terrorism… Heather Heyer, her murder was an American terrorist act,” he stated. “[The] president of the United States did not refute, did not denounce the Klan, alt-right and neo-Nazis. This film — whether we won best picture or not — this film will stand the test of time being on the right side of history.”
Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
Trump hit back on Twitter yesterday, projecting his own racism onto Lee and taking credit for long-term trends like economic growth and job creation. “Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!” Even without looking at the data — which of course refutes this boastful claim — it doesn’t take a psychiatrist to diagnose this tweet as delusional.
Meghan McCain, a Republican who is openly critical of the President, summed up our collective eye roll best. “We have a reality show president. He’s using his time this way and I don’t understand what the problem is,” she complained on The View. “It’s not so bad, life does go on, and it’s OK for people to speak their truth when they get an award.”