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Jewish World Review June 4, 1999 /20 Sivan 5759

Larry Elder

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The teflon director vs. the NRA

(JWR) ---- (
CALL HIM THE "Teflon director." For nothing Spike Lee says, no matter how outrageous, seems to hurt him.

Recently, Lee offered his post-Columbine "solution" to violence in America.

The Academy Award-nominated director said that the National Rifle Association "should be disbanded" and that someone should take its president, actor Charlton Heston, and "shoot him with a .44-caliber Bulldog."

My, my. Perhaps one of his production assistants could fetch a copy of the Constitution. The First Amendment says a little something about the right to assembly, a guarantee afforded even a group as odious as the National Rifle Association. And, as far as shooting its president, Heston told me, "(Lee) gave me a big laugh. The statement is a foolish one. ... If he wants to come and take a shot at me, go let him try it." (He also agreed that Lee would not likely call him to read for the lead in "Malcolm X II.")

How does Spike Lee do it? His ability to make and survive offensive statements makes President Clinton, who has survived a scandal or two, look like Velcro.

During the promotion of his film "Jungle Fever," about a black/white interracial romance, the black filmmaker stated that he disliked interracial couples! Incredibly, he said, "I give interracial couples a look. Daggers. They get uncomfortable when they see me on the street." Interesting. During the O.J. Simpson case, the defense accused Los Angeles Police Department detective Mark Fuhrman of racism, claiming that Fuhrman so disliked interracial couples that he stopped them for no apparent reason. Good thing Lee carries a camera rather than a badge and a gun.

During the publicity campaign for "Malcolm X," Lee stated that because of "stupid" questions by white reporters, Lee preferred to be interviewed by black journalists. "Stupid" whites are perfectly free, mind you, to patronize his films.

Lee also declared himself the victim of a movie-ticket plot. According to Lee, some theater owners credited ticket sales from "Malcolm X" to another film. This way, the Lee film would look less successful, hurting the director's chances at studio support for future films. Never mind that the film distributor called the small number of incorrect ticket stubs "a random event that is probably attributable to human error."

Spike Lee reminds me of an old high school classmate, Gilbert.

One summer during high school, I applied for a job with the County of Los Angeles. To qualify for a job, hundreds of students gathered downtown to take an aptitude test. If you scored below a certain level, the county deemed you unqualified, and you had to leave.

After the three- or four-hour exam, we waited in the hall as the instructors graded the exams. Gilbert, a fellow student, approached me.

"Watch out, Larry, they're gonna get us."

"Who's gonna get us, Gilbert?"

Gilbert sighed and rolled his eyes knowingly, "You know, the white people, that's who."

"But Gilbert, you think they're gonna 'punish' the blacks by flunking us?"

"Larry, you got a lot to learn."

Well, they announced the results of the exam. I passed, as did many other minorities. But Gilbert did not. He got up to leave, walked by me, looked me in the eyes and said, "What did I tell you?"

Lee enjoys a phenomenal career. He's averaged a movie a year over the past several years, including a couple of home runs -- "She's Gotta Have It" and "Do the Right Thing." He makes commercials for Nike. He just completed a movie about New York serial killer, Son of Sam. He seems happily married to a corporate lawyer, and he and his wife have started a family.

Spike Lee faces the dilemma that all successful they're-out-to-get-us "victicrats" must answer: how to explain his eye-popping success. His triumph means one of three things.

One, he has simply been lucky. The customary evil forces that conspire to bring blacks down failed against him. Two, that Lee is so supremely talented, so gifted, he conquered the odds. Or three, that the system, with all of its flaws, actually works when talent and determination meet opportunity.

Lee became a filmmaker in the entertainment industry, perhaps the world's most competitive field. And, after attending film school, Lee actually made films, something most film students never pull off. And, despite Lee's irresponsible verbal blasts, he continues to get support from Hollywood.

Talent, you know.

Lee, like so many successful "victicrats," fails to preach what he practices. He preaches woe but goes for dough.

Tough duty -- being a successful "victicrat" -- because that mind-set requires enemies. Who's left? The FBI? The IRS? The Trench Coat Mafia? Thank Heaven for "enemies" like Heston.

JWR contributor Larry Elder reads all of his mail. Let him know what you think by clicking here.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate