“Chi-Raq” director Spike Lee apparently has had a change of heart. He now denies calling for a boycott of Oscars.
In a video interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, the director said “Here’s the thing. I have never used the word boycott … All I said was, my beautiful wife Tonya [and I], we’re not coming. That’s it, then I gave the reasons, so I never used the word boycott.”
“I’m not going. My wife’s not going. Everyone else can do what they want to do,” he asserted again.
In the interview, Lee said that on February 28th he will be attending a basketball game, the same day when the 88th Academy Awards ceremony will take place in California. “On February 28th, we’ll be at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, to see my beloved orange and blue hopefully beat the Miami Heat. Going to the game,” he said.
On being asked about Chris Rock, who is going going to host this year’s Oscar ceremony, Lee said “Chris Rock is a grown a** man. He can do what he wants to do and I support him either way.”
Lee also brought attention to the central issue the source of the diversity problem at the Oscars. He said that the problem lies not with the Academy but with the studio executives who decide and control what happens in Hollywood.
Drawing on a football analogy, Lee said “We’re chasing the guy down the field. He doesn’t even have the ball. The other guy is high-stepping in the end zone.”
“It goes further than the Academy Awards and has to go back to the gatekeepers. The people who have the green-light vote … We’re not in the room.”
He said that in the end what mattered was someone’s work, not the awards won. “The work is what’s important because that’s the stuff that’s going to stand for years, not an award. Not whether you’re a Grammy or a Tony or whatnot. So even if you don’t get the Oscar there is some success,” was his message to all actors.
He drew an example from one of his own movies, “Do the Right Thing,” which was nominated for an Oscar but lost to “Driving Miss Daisy.” “That film is being taught in colleges, schools all over,” he said of “Do the Right Thing” and added that “no one is watching ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ now.”
Talking about Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Lee said that when he won the Honorary Oscar at the Governor’s Ball in November last year, Isaacs had also raised the diversity issue, but he things any real change will take time. “We can’t say, ‘Hocus, pocus, presto chango’ and the membership’s going to change overnight,” he added.