Spike Lee won his first Oscar this past week for “Best Adapted Screenplay” for directing “BlacKKKlansmen.” Accepting his award, Lee began his thank-you speech by colorfully telling Oscar producers not to turn the clocks on, a statement which was muted by providers, but taken to heart. Lee went on to read his acceptance speech, which spoke of black history, and called his audience to take action in the upcoming 2020 election. Lee’s speech can be read in full through a simple google search, and it is highly advised you take the time to read it. Lee’s words touched on his enslaved ancestors, his grandmother’s unwavering support which put him through college and praise for those enslaved peoples 400 years ago who “built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people.”
As with most public assertions such as this, Lee’s speech quickly gained national attention and backlash. President Donald Trump tweeted, “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!”
Here, the president illustrated a common trend of our nation when things like this happen; attacking the person and not reading into what is actually being said. Lee’s intended message was disregarded for the sake of stirring controversy over the fact that he gave this speech in front 29.6 million people according to Variety Magazine.
A habit of our country is latching on to the person saying these controversial things, not the actual things being said. As soon as a speech is given, an action is made, or a picture is posted, a rhetoric evolves around the speaker of whatever it was, and not around what their intended message was. In this, we lose sight of the weight of the intended message.
We’ve seen this with Colin Kaepernick, whose silent kneeling protest received more media attention than the actual meaning and reasoning behind his actions. If you wanted to find any written or published analysis of his actions, you first would have to wade through articles criticizing Kaepernick or complaining about how his actions offended the writer. The issue Kaepernick was actually kneeling for, police brutality and unfair treatment of African Americans in America, somehow over looked through need to argue over who is doing or saying what. The reasoning of this is the sad truth that we are more comfortable reading and discussing celebrity drama, rather than confronting our country’s systematic faults and inequality.
Much like Kaepernick’s protest, Lee’s speech has become the center of controversy and critique across headlines. However, not for the ways in which Lee intended. Instead, Lee is facing backlash, such as Trump’s critical tweet, over using his acceptance speech in such a manner. The weight and true meaning of his speech, analyzing and seeking insight into the words he spoke, is being put on the backburner to instead discuss the fact that Lee gave a speech in the first place. Once again, the controversy of the action has become more newsworthy than the actual controversy of racism in America.
What needs to happen instead is for the content of Lee’s speech to be discussed. Far more time is deserved to have conversation over the matters which he was talking, rather than talking about Lee or putting his action in spotlights. What deserves a spotlight is the truth of his words, not Lee himself.
The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusion news staff.