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Wake Up, Spike Lee

Dear Spike Lee:

The opening words of Do the Right Thing, your 1989 breakout film, were these: "Wake up!" You wanted the world to awaken to the deep and painful rifts in American race relations -- between black and white, brown and white, black and brown, the whole enchilada. You followed your feminist debut, She's Gotta Have It, with this electric and thoughtful movie. We saw it. We talked about it. And you opened the door for a new wave of African-American filmmakers. We were counting on you to keep making intelligent, provocative films. So when did you fall asleep? 2000's Bamboozled was an utter mess of stereotypes and misdirected rage. And this year's She Hate Me? Perhaps the angriest, most obnoxious movie to pollute the screen.

You're blaming lesbians for the unhappiness of the black man? Lesbians are the problem? It didn't help that you admitted to not knowing any lesbians of color; did you have to portray them as scheming, manipulative, and man-hating bitches? Whose conversion to bisexuality is just one good (or even mediocre) fuck with a man away? Puh-lease. We're not buying it. Frankly, it's perplexing. How is the same man who made 25th Hour, 2002's gorgeous, jazzy tribute to New York City (among other things), capable of She Hate Me? Maybe it was the writing. (And maybe you should leave the writing, as you did in 25th Hour, to others.) Where did your brain go, Spike? Wake up. We miss you.

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Melissa Levine