> > The Brown Daily Herald > Campus News > > Spike Lee: Blame rap > Director says hip-hop culture distracts from education > By Simon van Zuylen-Wood > > > Updated: Sunday, April 12, 2009 > > > Quinn Savit > > Spike Lee spoke to a packed Salomon 101 about problems > facing blacks today. > He wore a New York Yankees cap and warmed up the audience > with a jab at the New England Patriots. But, turning > serious, award-winning film director Spike Lee expressed > concern about the misguided values some blacks live by today > in a speech last night. > > Lee focused on film, hip-hop and the importance of > education and hard work in the black community in his > lecture to an enthusiastic crowd in a packed Salomon 101. > > "No matter what you want to do, if you want to achieve that > dream, you have to bust your ***," Lee said. "I'm very > fortunate (to be successful) because my first two years I > wasn't doing anything in school." > > Lee, who attended historically black Morehouse College in > Atlanta, said a major problem with the education of blacks > was the notion that being smart was equivalent to being > white. > > "If you speak correct English, get good grades, you get > ostracized as being a sellout," Lee said. While he was > growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970s, "you got major props if > you were smart. No one would call you a white boy or white > girl if you got A's." > > Lee said he blamed the rap industry for discouraging blacks > from hard work and studying. At one point, "it was against > the law for African-Americans to learn how to read and > write," Lee said. Now, rap music and videos spread the > notion that "ignorant is being black ... gangsta ... > ghetto." > > Lee, who said he had "no idea (he) wanted to be a > filmmaker," credited his surroundings for his early success. > Lee was raised in Brooklyn by his mother, an art teacher, > and his father, a jazz musician. He said he first starting > filming the summer after his sophomore year of college in > 1977. > > That summer in New York City, Lee said he filmed a > "blackout," "blacks and Puerto Ricans looting," "the first > summer of disco" and the Son of Sam serial killer scare. > > "I had all this footage and no idea what to do with it," > Lee said, adding that the material eventually inspired him > to become a mass communications major. > > Lee broke onto the film scene with late 1980s indie hits > "She's Gotta Have It" and "Do the Right Thing," and has > recently scored big with 2006's "Inside Man," which was > critically acclaimed. > > Despite his recent success, Lee says it's still difficult > to get financing for films about blacks. > > "Hollywood will finance a certain type of African-American > film," Lee said, referring to "bang-bang" gangster movies > and "lowbrow comedy." > > "Tyler Perry has a film every month coming out," Lee > quipped. > > Resolved to show "not just the pretty pictures but the ugly > stuff too" about the black experience, Lee plugged his > latest film, which is about black soldiers in World War II. > > > Lee said black soldiers faced racial prejudice while > serving in the military, adding, "even today, in Iraq - I > know how I feel about this war." > > After a pause, Lee then smiled and recited presidential > candidate Barack Obama's slogan, "Yes we can" to a wildly > cheering crowd. > > "Just the thought of someone like Barack being president of > these United States - I still wake up in the morning > scratching my head," Lee said. "My grandmother - I know she > went to heaven knowing this day would never come." > > Kibwe Chase-Marshall '11 said Lee's voice resounded loudly > on issues beyond film. > > "While you might have another director here to give > insights on why to opt for a dolly shot or a pan, (Lee) can > offer things that are a lot more valuable in a cultural > context," he said. > > Reginald Cole '10 said that "as a speaker trying to talk to > a Brown crowd, (Lee) couldn't necessarily go into depth > about" certain subjects. > > The Brown community, which Lee told The Herald is > "together" and "always has fun," was receptive of him, as > dozens of students crowded Lee for autographs after his > speech, which was sponsored by the Brown Lecture Board. > > "Absolutely genius," said Dami Olatunji '11. "I can't stay > awake from most lectures - but I stayed awake for this > one." > The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Copyright © 1994-2009 All rights reserved.