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Spike Lee has directed, written, produced, and acted in dozens of films that present an expansive, nuanced, proudly opinionated, richly multifaceted portrait of American society. As the only African-American filmmaker ever to establish a world-class career, Lee has paid acute attention to the experiences of racial and ethnic minorities. But white men and women also play important roles in his movies, and his interest in class, race, and urban life hasn't prevented his films from ranging over broad swaths of the American scene in stories as diverse as the audiences who view them. His defining trait is a willingness to raise hard questions about contemporary America without pretending to have easy answers; his pictures are designed to challenge and provoke us, not ease our minds or pacify our emotions. The opening words of his 1989 masterpiece Do the Right Thing present his core message in two emphatic syllables: "Wake up!" Spike Lee's America is a vibrant and provocative engagement not only with the work of a great filmmaker, but also with American society and politics.
David Sterritt is Chair of the National Society of Film Critics and Professor at Columbia University and the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents Acknowledgments Introduction: Challenging Questions, No Easy Answers 1. The Early Joints 2. The Right Thing and the Love Supreme 3. Deeper Into Politics 4. Brownstones in the Nabe, Projects in the Hood 5. Women and Men, Blacks and Whites 6. Crime, War, Miracles Epilogue: Expanding Horizons Works Cited Notes Index