Spike Lee hopes his new movie, “BlacKkKlansman,” inspires Americans not to vote President Donald Trump into office for a second term.
“I hope that (viewers would) be motivated to register to vote. The midterms are coming up, then this guy in the White House is going to run again, and what we’re going through is demonstrated, I think, is full evidence (of) what happens when you don’t vote, when you don’t take part in the process,” Lee told CNN recently.
“I know a lot of people who say, ‘F politics, they’re all crooks, whatever.’ But to me, that says, ‘defeatist attitude,’” he said, “and we just have to be smarter on who we vote.”
Lee’s latest film, which opens Friday in theaters, tells the true story of Ron Stallworth, the first African-American detective in the Colorado Springs police force in the 1970s. It chronicles how Stallworth, played by John David Washington, manages to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.
Lee’s film credits over three decades include other movies that have tackled US race relations – “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X,” “Jungle Fever,” “Bamboozled.” He said he believes racism is just as prevalent in 2018 as it was when he started making movies – and only getting worse.
“The rise of (racism) right here in the United States, specifically, is direct reaction to eight years of President Barack Obama,” Lee told CNN. “It’s two step forward, one step back … The reason why I feel that race is still a big discussion in this country (is) because we’ve never really honestly dealt with slavery.
“Once we start having an honest discussion on slavery, then we can move forward,” he said. “We’ve never really had an honest discussion about the foundation of this country. I know people might not like this, but this is the truth.
“The United States of America, the foundation of the country, is built upon genocide of native people and slavery. That’s a fact,” Lee said. “The founding fathers owned slaves. Unless we deal with those truths, it’s not going to matter. This country was upon the genocide of native people and slavery. That’s the backbone.”
Lee, who refuses to say Trump’s name and instead refers to him as “Agent Orange,” has a strong message for the President and his supporters at the end of the film: He features clips of Trump alongside footage of last year’s violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Still, Lee hopes Trump sees the film.
“‘Birth of a Nation’ was shown in the White House,” Lee said, referring to the controversial Civil War movie released in 1915. “Many films. They have a screening room in the White House. I would love ‘Agent Orange’ and David Duke (a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan) to see this film in the White House. I’m not coming, but they’re in it, they should see the film.”
Above all, Lee hopes his films serve as “time capsules” for future generations.
“I’m starting my fourth decade of films, and my work, after I’m long and gone, will be seen forever,” he said. “I’m very proud of my work. I work very hard, you know, working my craft, honing my craft, and I think that my film, some of my films, could be used as time capsules to see what was happening.
“What was happening in 1989? What was happening? Oh, let’s watch ‘Do the Right Thing.’ In 1992, oh, what was happening? Oh, let’s watch ‘Malcolm X.’ 2018 … when I’m not even here, they’re still going to be looking (at) ‘BlacKkKlansman’ and (will) use this film to show what was happening in America.”