“Sorry to Bother You” director Boots Riley has taken to Twitter to voice his many political objections to Spike Lee’s “disappointing” new movie “BlacKkKlansman.”
“This is being pushed as a true story and it is precisely its untrue elements that make a cop a hero against racism,” Riley wrote in a three-page essay about the film, based on the true story of an African American undercover police officer who infiltrated the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s.
“It’s a made up story in which the false parts of it to try to make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression,” Riley wrote. “It’s being put while Black Lives Matter is a discussion, and this is not coincidental.”
“BlacKkKlansman” is based on Ron Stallworth’s memoir about his experience as the first black cop in Colorado Springs — a book which, Riley noted, was “published by a publisher that specializes in books written by cops.”
“We deal with racism not just from physical terror or attitudes of racist people, but in pay scale, housing, health care and other material quality of life issues,” Riley wrote. “But to the extent that people of color deal with actual physical attacks and terrorizing due to racism and racist doctrines — we deal with it mostly from the police on a day to day basis. And not just from White cops. From Black cops too. So for Spike to come out with a movie where a story points are fabricated in order to make Black cop and his counterparts look like allies in the fight against racism is really disappointing, to put it very mildly.”
Riley also objected to the way in which Lee took liberties with the facts laid out in Stallworth’s memoir, creating new characters and plot points that he said amplified the heroic status of the law enforcement figures, including Stallworth himself (played by John David Washington in the film).
Lee shares a writing credit on “BlacKkKlansman” with his “Chi-Raq” writing partner Kevin Willmott, David Rabinowitz, and Charlie Wachtel.
“Spike Lee has been a huge influence on me,” Riley notes at the beginning of his essay, but he criticizes his filmmaking mentor for softening his positions after being a vocal critic of the NYPD and police brutality in the past.
“Many folks now know that Spike Lee was paid over $200k to help in an ad campaign that was ‘aimed at improving relations with minority communities,’” Riley wrote. According to the Wall Street Journal, the nonprofit New York City Police Foundation paid Lee’s Spike DDB agency $219113 in consulting fees to help create TV ads to promote neighborhood policing.
Riley concluded, “Whether it actually is or not, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ feels like an extension of that ad campaign.”
Spike Lee, NYU Grad Film School tenured professor, has no comment.
A rep for Lee tells TheWrap, “Spike Lee, NYU Grad Film School tenured professor, has no comment”
Read Riley’s post below.
Ok. Here's are some thoughts on #Blackkklansman.
Contains spoilers, so don't read it if you haven't seen it and you don't wanna spoil it. pic.twitter.com/PKfnePrFGy
— Boots Riley (@BootsRiley) August 17, 2018