Spike Lee is standing firm on his stance against gentrification in New York City’s historically black neighborhoods. He made headlines back in February after talking about it in response to an audience question during a speaking engagement at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and he stands ready to defend it passionately still.
The acclaimed film director got especially heated when confronted with the opposing viewpoint of actor and filmmaker Michael Rapaport. Last month, Rapaport spoke on HuffPost Live about Lee’s stand, pointing out that Lee now lives on the Upper East Side. “If the people that donated money to Spike Lee‘s last film saw the apartment that he lives in, they’d bug out,” Rapaport said. “Brooklyn got better. And he’s making money off the fact that it got better.”
After hearing Rapaport’s words for himself during his own HuffPost Live interview, Lee lost it, dropping f-bombs and attacking Rapaport personally in his retort. His main focus was on the less-advantaged people who are displaced from their homes due to gentrification. “What Michael Rapaport left out because he’s stupid: he did not talk about the people who can no longer afford to live in Williamsburg, who can no longer afford to live in Fort Greene, who can no longer afford to live in Clinton Hill,” Lee railed.
“Should Jay-Z stop rapping about Brooklyn?” Lee asked. “When was the last time Jay-Z lived in the Washington Projects? So from now on Jay-Z can’t have any mention of Brooklyn?” He went on to suggest that artists carry a piece of their hometown communities with them even after they’ve moved up to more expensive dwellings. “I could live on the moon, Brooklyn’s still going to be inside of me.”
As for Rapaport, Lee got a few more digs in during his impassioned monologue. “He’s not even a good filmmaker, first of all,” Lee said of the “When the Garden Was Eden” director. “He’s not even a good filmmaker, so I don’t know what he’s talking about.”