Spike Lee on Selma Oscars Snub, Lack of Diversity in Hollywood: “F–k ‘Em”

Spike Lee
Spike Lee spoke with The Daily Beast about the Academy's snub of Selma, and the general lack of diversity among the 2015 Oscar nominees  Jin Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Image

Spike Lee is just as annoyed as anyone, if not more so, about the Oscars’ snub of Selma. But as someone who has been overlooked himself — namely in the Best Picture category for 1989’s Do the Right Thing — he knows there’s more to a film’s legacy than its trophy case.

In an interview with The Daily Beast for an upcoming profile of the Malcolm X filmmaker, Lee addressed the Academy’s snub of Selma actor David Oyelowo, who played civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in the movie, and director Ava DuVernay, saying it didn’t “diminish the film” or its message.

David Oyelowo in Selma
David Oyelowo, who plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, was snubbed in the Best Actor Oscars race for 2015 Atsushi Nishijima

To prove his point, he cited Driving Miss Daisy, which won the Best Picture Oscar the same year he was robbed of a nomination for Do the Right Thing.

“Nobody’s talking about motherf–kin’ Driving Miss Daisy. That film is not being taught in film schools all across the world like Do the Right Thing is,” he told The Daily Beast. “Nobody’s discussing Driving Miss Motherf–kin’ Daisy. So if I saw Ava today I’d say, ‘You know what? F–k ’em. You made a very good film, so feel good about that and start working on the next one.”

Lee, 57, went on to acknowledge the difference in this year’s nominees compared with last year’s, which included Best Supporting Actress winner Lupita Nyong’o and Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave.

“Anyone who thinks this year was gonna be like last year is retarded,” he scoffed. “There were a lot of black folks up there with 12 Years a Slave, Steve [McQueen], Lupita, Pharrell. It’s in cycles of every 10 years.”

That said, the Emmy winner is cautiously optimistic about the future. “The Academy is trying to be more diverse,” he said, noting the leadership of Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the first black president in the Academy’s history.

In any case, awards and accolades only mean so much. “The validation,” he told The Daily Beast, “is if your work still stands 25 years later.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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