Don’t Mind Spike; He’s Just Bitter

Quentin Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino

One of Hollywood’s longest-running feuds is that between Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino. It most recently blossomed during the run-up to the release of Django Unchained, Tarantino’s pulpy tale of a slave’s revenge set in the antebellum South. Lee said he had no intention of seeing the film and tweeted the following:

The Do the Right Thing director has long been on the warpath against Tarantino, slamming him for using the n-word too often for Lee’s liking in Jackie Brown and suggesting that QT thinks he is an “honorary black man.”

If I had to guess, Spike Lee’s real issue is that he’s bitter no one would dare give him $100 million to make a movie about slavery even as Tarantino has no trouble finding funding for such a picture. But Lee shouldn’t be bitter toward the studios: he should be bitter toward audiences! Because it’s the audience ambivalence toward his work that keeps him from getting the same kind of carte blanche that Tarantino has earned.

Let’s just put things in perspective for a moment: Django Unchained has grossed almost $310 million around the world even without Spike Lee plunking down his $12. That’s as much as every Spike Lee film since 1996 has grossed worldwide—combined.

So while I understand Spike’s frustration—it must be hard to have a peer so much more beloved than he—he should focus his ire where it belongs. (Which is to say, on his horribly unpopular oeuvre.)

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