Spike Lee on 'Django Unchained': It's 'disrespectful,' American slavery 'was a Holocaust'
Director Spike Lee is boycotting Quentin Tarantino's new film "Django Unchained," which depicts a black slave's journey to rescue his wife in the pre-Civil War era, adding that slavery in America was a "Holocaust," not a "Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western."
The movie, whose title was inspired by the 1966 Western "Django," stars Jamie Foxx as the title character and is set for wide release on December 25. "Django Unchained" is already stirring controversy over not only its sensitive subject matter, but its repeated use of a racial slur throughout the film. According to USA Today, it is heard more than 110 times.
Lee, a longtime advocate of civil rights known for helming the 1992 film "Malcolm X," said in an interview carried by VIBE TV that he refuses to see "Django Unchained."
"All I'm going to say is that it's disrespectful to my ancestors," he added. "That's just me. I'm not speaking on behalf of anybody else."
Lee also said on his Twitter page on December 22: "American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.It Was A Holocaust.My Ancestors Are Slaves.Stolen From Africa.I Will Honor Them. (sic)"
Italian director Sergio Leone made many Spaghetti Western films, including the 1966 classic "A Fistful of Dollars."
Lee posts and interacts with people regularly on Twitter. Many users commented about his message, including one who posted: "@SpikeLee is going in on this Django movie, I respect this man alot BUT I still wanna see it," to which the director replied: "As You Should,You Are Grown."
Lee reiterated that he was not expressing "hate" about the movie.
Meanwhile, Tarantino has addressed the controversy over the use of the racial slur, telling MTV News: "I think it's kind of ridiculous because no one can actually say with a straight face that we use the word more than it was used in 1858 in Mississippi, so since they can't say that, what they're basically saying is, 'I should lie, I should pretty it up. I should lie' and I don't lie when it comes to my characters and the stories I tell.'
"Django Unchained: earned five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture - Drama and Best Director and Best Screenplay for Tarantino.
This marks his fifth Golden Globe nomination. He won both a Golden Globe and an Oscar for Best Screenplay for "Pulp Fiction" and was in 2010 nominated for two Academy Awards for his film "Inglourious Basterds," which was set during the Holocaust in World War II and starred Brad Pitt as a Nazi hunter and Christoph Waltz and an SS officer. (Check out a full list of 2013 Golden Globe nominations)
Waltz stars in "Django Unchained" as well. He plays dentist-turned-bounty hunter who buys Django and makes a deal to help him find and free his wife, also a slave. She is played by Kerry Washington. The film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the owner of a plantation where she is being kept.
Washington, who is known for her role on the ABC political drama series "Scandal," told OTRC.com in September that "Django Unchained was "a very tough film" to make.
"[Django Unchained] was set in the context of slavery, so the subject matter was challenging," she added. "But [Foxx's] character is such a hero and it's such a story of love overcoming the evils of slavery, so it was an honor to do it."
Foxx and Washington played Ray Charles and wife Della Bea Robinson in the 2004 biopic "Ray," which won the actor his first Oscar.
"Jamie's a real friend," Washington said. "I mean, in Hollywood terms we've been married for almost 10 years, which is really good, so we're doing well. It was really great to be able to be in the trenches with him on this one."
Watch the trailer for "Django Unchained" below.