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Perhaps you think it’s a bit harsh of me to state that Spike Lee is an idiot. But it’s a two-part thing. The first is that I wanted to continue in my series of idiots (Tori Spelling being the first). Sure, Lee has a bit more talent than Spelling, but he’s just as big (although shorter), if not bigger, an idiot.

As a movie critic, I’ll give him credit for a few good movies. Do the Right Thing, He Got Game, Malcolm X, and Inside Man are all good films. Yet for as much praise as Lee gets, it can’t explain the 20 other bad movies he’s done. He’s also just a jerk.

The first time I met him, I started to talk movies with him. He scowled at me, so I wrapped up what I was saying and walked away.

I’m a huge Key & Peele fan, and when Jordan Peele found huge success (and Oscar wins) with horror films, Lee immediately latched himself onto Peele (who gave him the idea to do Blackkklansman). Peele told a story about how Lee came to a film school he was attending, to do a talk. He could tell Lee didn’t want to be there, and was rude answering the students questions, even his question. Lee laughed and talked about how his wife made him go to that and he admitted to not wanting to be there.

Think about that. You’re talking to a group of students and you can’t even smile and answer questions. Not even being smart enough to realize it’s the polite thing to do, or you might have a future filmmaker in the crowd that you might want to work with in the future.

I’ve done many speaking engagements at schools, old folks homes, and other events. Often times people ask dumb questions, but you smile, and answer the best you can. Lee is incapable of doing that. 

The second time I met Lee was when I was in New York. I had flown out with a girlfriend, to see a musician I loved named Stew, who along with his collaborated Heidi, had done a musical about his life (he was in an L.A. band called The Negro Problem, which were terrific). Heidi told me before the show that Spike Lee had been showing up and wanted to make a movie about “Passing Strange.” I was so happy for them both.

I had sent Stew an email months before, when Whoopi Goldberg was wearing a “Passing Strange” shirt (the name of his musical) on her show The View. She talked about how great it was. It was cool to see that such an amazing songwriter was finally getting praise from some big names.

My girlfriend at the time wanted to meet Spike, and I spotted him near the front of the line. I first went up to him while she kept our place in line. I said, “Mr. Lee, it’s so great that you’re here. Stew is such an amazing talent and I’m glad you’re checking his show out.” 

I’m 6’1” and he’s about 5’3”. He looked up at me and didn’t say a word. He didn’t smile. Nothing. I then said, “Could you autograph my ticket?”

He sighed, looked off to the side, and reluctantly grabbed it and scribbled his name. I thanked him and left.

My girlfriend then excitedly went over to talk to him. She came back a few minutes later furious. I asked her what happened and she didn’t tell me. All she would say is, “I’ve never met a more rude person in my life!”

And she had done security at the House of Blues for a year, and met many famous bands and singers.

I laughed hysterically when Lee threw a fit at the Oscars a couple years ago. Green Book won the Oscar for “best picture” -- as it should have. It was by far, the best movie that year (and I saw everything that was released). He got up and tried to leave the show. Perhaps he was furious his nominated movie Blackkklansman didn’t win, but isn’t that sour grapes? He also won for “best adapted screenplay” so he should be happy about that (not mention the fact that Blackkklansman was an okay movie, but not a great film; it was also 75% fiction, but that’s another story for another time).

Lee would gripe to anybody that would listen, about how Driving Miss Daisy beat him out of the Oscar when Do the Right Thing was released, and now another chauffeur driven film got him. Which I’ll admit, is funny. I’ll also admit, Do the Right Thing was a much better film than Daisy. Yet it’s weird that he didn’t appreciate Green Book showing an African-American character in a positive light, and the Italian character in a slightly negative one. But for all the bitching he did about the Oscar voters, aren’t these the same guys that gave him an Oscar in another category? Isn’t this an Academy that let in more minority members? They’re all voting on this stuff and the fact is -- Green Book is 100 times better than Blackkklansman.

Here’s another example of Lee and is idiocracy (is that even a word, or just a movie title?).

Rolling Stone released a list of the 500 best albums of all-time. Now, when lists like this come out, we all debate it. That’s to be expected. Yet the way Lee ranted about this, is just so baffling. He again played the race card. He bitched about how Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” should have been number one. Well, that argument doesn’t fly with all of us that agree with The Beatles “Sgt. Pepper” having that spot.

Lee complained about The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” being number two, and he talked about animal sounds on a record, and made other knocks on that. Yet he admitted to never having listened to that record.

How does Lee not realize how stupid he sounded getting angry about the Rolling Stone Top 500 list? If there was a list of Top 500 movies, it would also sound stupid if David Lee Roth bitched about Citizen Kane, saying “Who cares about a movie that deals with a sled named Rosebud? And I’ve never even seen 2001!”

If Lee wants to gripe, he should first know about the other records nominated. Perhaps he doesn’t realize that this wasn’t just Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner coming up with it. There were over 270 big name musicians and music writers that all contributed to compiling this list (many of them African-American). It wasn’t just about how many albums were sold, or Thriller might have been #1...or maybe The Eagles Greatest Hits...or Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” might have taken the #1 spot. It was the #1 album for one week on Billboard, and stayed on the charts for 741 straight weeks, from 1973 to 1988. I’m guessing Lee had no problem with Dark Side being #43 on Rolling Stone’s list, since it was behind Jackson.

Now, Spike Lee did a documentary on Michael Jackson. He loves the guy as an artist. So, I’m guessing he’s also one of those naive people that doesn’t think Jackson had an inappropriate relationship with kids (that isn’t an “allegedly” as Jackson himself admitted to letting kids sleep in his bed because he “loved” them, which even if molestation didn’t occur, is inappropriate; again, another debate for another time).

It was Lee complaining so much about Rolling Stone’s Top 500 list that got me to seek it out. As much as he was griping about “Thriller” not being number one, I assumed it was way down around #50. Nope. It was number 20 on the list. Now, I might have had it a few spots higher, but not much.

As for the claims of racism that Lee made towards this list, that’s a bigger laugh. For example, should I, as a Jew, complain that Bob Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” not being the #1 album, because of anti-Semitism? Nope. Amazing record, but it’s already high on the list (in the Top 20). 

Speaking of which, for a guy that gripes as much as Spike Lee, as a Jew -- I’d like to ask him why in his movie “Mo’ Better Blues”, were the club owners that ripped off the artists, conniving Jewish guys. I’m guessing Spike doesn’t like when there are stereotypes about blacks on screen, but I guess it’s okay if he does it. Got it.

But back to the list. I started at 500 (which was a black artist) and the entire 500 is peppered with many, many African-Americans. But I’ll drop to the Top 50. That spot was occupied by Little Richard. At 48 was rap group Public Enemy. 47 -- John Coltrane. 46 -- Bob Marley. I loved seeing Love at number 40, with their great album “Forever Changes” (they were a biracial group, with two African-American members, but for arguments sake, I’ll count them since their leader Arthur Lee was black). 38 was Muddy Waters. 25 was the classic “Live at the Apollo” by James Brown. 24 -- Stevie Wonder. 21 -- Chuck Berry. Now, at number 20 -- that’s what didn’t thrill Spike. It was Thriller. One that beat out Thriller on the list was Nirvana’s “Nevermind” which I’m guessing Lee would hate, but it deserves to be ahead of Thriller. It created an entire genre of music (grunge). Thriller was just a more polished version of “Off the Wall” (which also made the list), with a few more hits and better production values.

Jimi Hendrix debut record was at 15. Miles Davis made it to number 12. And the highest ranking black artist -- Marvin Gaye at #6. Gaye had a total of 3 albums on the list, as did black artists Al Green, Hendrix, Ray Charles, George Clinton, Miles Davis, and rap acts Public Enemy, Kanye West, and Jay Z. Lee’s favorite artist -- Michael Jackson also had 3, which makes sense. I think people should be more outraged that Kanye and Public Enemy have the same amount of albums on this list as CCR, Steely Dan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Kinks, The Clash, The Beach Boys, and Elvis fu**ing Presley!!

You know what black artists had more albums on the list than Elvis? Stevie Wonder, Prince (who really should only have two on the list), Otis Redding, James Brown, and Sly and the Family Stone all with 4 (although Spike would probably say Elvis stole his music from the black man). Guess who had 5 records on the list? That would be: Bob Marley. 

Now I’d love nothing more than to hear music experts or hardcore music fans, debate this list. I wouldn’t put Nico/Velvet Underground in the Top 20, or the Sex Pistols that high either. But you could make an argument for how influential they were to music. 

This is easily the longest story I’ve written about autographs, which actually has very little to do with autographs. But I’m quarantined, I’m bored, and I type really fast. I type as fast as Stevie Wonder hits piano keys (I figured I’d throw that line in to make Spike happy).

It makes sense why the New York Knicks owner is done dealing with him and his horrible attitude.

It makes sense why he had to make a six figure settlement with an old white couple, when he put their address online and people showed up threatening to kill them. Oh, and why did Mr. Lee do that? He thought it was the address of George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin. Lee figured if the legal system couldn’t bring the justice he felt necessary, a mob should show up and do the job. Now, if Lee wants to go that route, let’s get O.J. Simpson’s address. Oh wait. Lee is probably a fan of O.J.

In closing, if you have the opportunity to meet Spike Lee, don’t ask for his autograph.  Look down at that goofy little fellow, and tell him he’s a racist jerk and that he should make Mo' Better Movies.

Of course, he’ll think you said that because you’re racist.

Views: 773

Tags: Bob Dylan, Green Book, Heidi Rodewald, Michael Jackson, Passing Strange, Rolling Stone Top 500, Spike Lee, Stew, Thriller

Comment by Joe W. on April 11, 2020 at 4:48pm

Well written piece, Josh. I am looking forward in discovering who your next "idiot" will be. Plenty to choose from!

Comment by Josh Board on April 11, 2020 at 5:00pm

Thank you, Joe! This is just the kind of push I need to keep the "series" going, hahahaha.

Comment by BC on April 11, 2020 at 8:11pm

Lee most recently threw a fit at Madison Square Garden when he wasn't allowed to use the employee entrance to get in. Instead, he had to use the VIP entrance and wasn't happy with that. He is just a miserable person.

Comment by Steve Viola on April 12, 2020 at 10:27am

Spike should have taken a cue from Elvis, one of the best signers there ever was.  There are so many pics of Elvis signing for his fans, he puts Spike to shame in that department.

Comment by Josh Board on April 12, 2020 at 10:34am

If he just didn't want to sign autographs, that would be one thing. But this guy is angry about EVERYTHING! I mean, when he can't even enjoy a speaking engagement for young filmmakers, that's just disgusting. 

I read a story in Reader's Digest the other day (it was an issue from years ago), and they talked to comedians about things they hated. One of them is when you ask them to be or say something funny. Another is when you told them about other comedians you think are funny. It said, "Yes, we think Robin Williams and Jerry Seinfeld are great, too. We don't need you to tell us all the other people you think are funnier than I am."

It was interesting, because we naturally don't know what to say to our idols. So, if someone went up to Spike Lee and wanted to talk about how great Martin Scorsese movies are -- I get it. He might frown. Or if you bring up Tarantino (who Spike Lee has always had problems with). But, if you are praising him, or your mutual love for the playwright/songwriter (Stew) that you're about to see, he could smile and say a few words about it. Especially since, you NEVER KNOW who you are going to meet and be rude to. He was already rude once to Jordan Peele when he was young and not famous. Now, he was rude to me -- someone that flew all the way across the country to see this play, and who is on TV, radio, and written movie reviews -- who will review future Spike Lee "joints" [side note: I never let that cloud whether I'm giving an artist a fair review, although I might mention in my review what a jerk they are. If the movie is good, they'll get a good review from me]

Comment by Sidney Fields on April 12, 2020 at 10:46am

Josh:

You're being kind.  In addition to an idiot he's also imbecilic. And privileged.  

Just look at his dopey on court dancing when he gets out of his seat at Knicks games.  If anyone else pulled that how quickly would the person be tossed out?

Maybe the fact he roots for the Knicks is a source of his bitterness.

Comment by Mike Shepherd on April 12, 2020 at 11:27am

Interesting read, Josh.  I have heard similar accounts about Spike Lee’s behavior.  I completely agree about Green Book.  I was very happy when it won Best Picture.  I disagree about BlacKkKlansman.  I thought it was one of his best films, and I was hoping that he would win Best Director for it.  I suppose that I was hoping that he would win Best Director for the same reason that I was hoping for Quentin Tarantino to win this year.  Congratulations on achieving his autograph that day.  I also agree about the albums.  Elvis would probably have more on the list, but I do not think that many albums were released back then.  They were releasing mostly records. I will let my feelings about Van Halen’s position on the list pass.  Very disappointing.  Stay well.

Comment by Josh Board on April 12, 2020 at 11:36am

Mike -- Van Halen's first and second albums...are amazing. Hell, so are Diver Down and Women and Children First. So...I agree with ya.

Now, here are all my problems with Blakkklansman (from my review): https://fox5sandiego.com/entertainment/at-the-movies-blog/blackkkla...

Comment by Christopher Williams on April 12, 2020 at 11:57am

This reads with a ton of adrenaline.  Great read.

Comment by Sidney Fields on April 12, 2020 at 11:59am

While I'm on site...I'm compelled to write something completely off point.

The greatest LIVE record ever recorded (without any doubt and without any room for reasonable disagreement) is The Allman Brothers "At Fillmore East."  Brilliant in every way.

An aside.  Some years ago I did a syndicated TV show that got sent out every night for audio sweetening before it was satellited to stations across the country.

I couldn't vouch for the quality of our pieces every night...but I could guarantee the audio would be great.  We sent it out to a company called Baron and Baron.  The senior member of that team was Aaron Baron...the recording engineer for "At Fillmore East."

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