Spike Lee Says He’s Exposing Homophobia, Not Endorsing It

SPIKE LEEFirst of all, I’m not homophobic. Because I have a character say the word “faggot” or “homo” that does not mean that I’m homophobic. Martin Scorsese is not racist. The characters are people he grew up with, characters in the mean streets — that’s those people talking, not him.  In that world, those are the things people say. When I went to Morehouse College that’s the way they spoke, thought and talked about homosexuals… To be an artist, if you’re a novelist — every character you write is going to have the same vision?  How do you have conflict if everybody is agreeing?  Plus, what I’ve done is hold the mirror up. I’ve done a lot of showing what is happening now. I try to expose stuff by showing it — that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing it.”


— Filmmaker Spike Lee discussing criticism that his films are sometimes homophobic in an interview with out BET journalist Clay Cane 

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  • Aaron in Honolulu

    I agree. Characters in films are just that. Characters. Why would I watch a movie where all the characters share the same ideology as the writer or director?

  • fredo777

    He makes total sense here.

  • Tackle

    I totally agree with what he’s saying. and I don’t see how anyone can NOT get it.

  • Mr. E. Jones

    I find it amusing that Spike Lee would note Martin Scorsese, when he railed against the director for using racial slurs in his movies back in the 1990’s.

  • enfilmigult

    Hopefully a lightbulb has gone off and he stops getting on his soapbox every time a Quentin Tarantino screenplay gets the green light.

    That said, anybody who says they aren’t homophobic but uses the word “homosexuals,” I take with a grain of salt. Call me cynical.

  • Pucifer

    I have to agree with those who question Spike Lee’s sincerity here… Why is it wrong for white director Quentin Tarantino to use the “N” word if it is OK for straight director Spike Lee to use the “F” word? Sounds a tad hypocritical, if you ask me.

  • Brandon

    Totally 100 % agree; I don’t believe he is endorsing homophobia at all, but rather portraying an accurate dialogue of how many ignorant people still refer to us.

  • Kirk99

    Gotta love the double standard

  • bobbyjoe

    To be fair to Spike, his criticism of Tarantino, particularly “Jackie Brown,” wasn’t just that Tarantino had a character use the N-word, but that the film was throwing that word around a lot. I have no problem with a Spike Lee film having a character utter a single homophobic epithet, if it’s used sparingly and by someone who’s already being portrayed as morally ambiguous. But if any of Spike’s films used the word “f*gg*t” with anything approaching the frequency with which the N-word is used in a film like Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown,” I’d seriously question if he was “exposing” homophobia or just getting off on throwing that word around. And I think that was Spike’s point about Tarantino, and why Spike is not being hypocritical here.

  • Jack E. Jett

    The issue of gay rights and Spike Lee have long been in dispute. I enjoy it as he ALWAYS dances around the subject and NEVER confronts it head on….Like this line..that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing it.”
    The WHAT does it mean? WHAT do you think? How do you feel Spike?

    I find it an interesting subject and would love to see a journalist take him on.

  • Deepdow

    He may have characters that use those slurs, and I agree, they’re just chatacters but as a man – is this jibbety jabbety Motherfucker against bigotry or for it? Too vague especially if you’re using slurs… let the people know.

  • Redpalacebulleaglesox

    Spike Lee has always tackled social issues straight on and without any phoniness. We have to realize that in exposing racism, sexism and homophobia, one has to portray it realistically without hiding behind niceties.

  • Kangol

    I get what he’s saying here, but as a filmmaker he’s hit (Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, Clockers, Bamboozled, When the Levees Broke or miss (Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, She Hate Me, Girl 6, Red Hook Summer).

    He really doesn’t deal with homosexuality or queer sexuality at all, though. He needs to make that movie. Maybe adapt an E. Lynn Harris novel, like Invisible Life, or one of the later ones?

  • johnrussell

    @Kangol: Erm, wasn’t She Hate Me about lesbians paying a straight man $10k to fuck them pregnant? Sounds pretty homophobic to me.

  • Tackle

    @Kangoi: You must not have seen “Get on the bus”. Isiah Washington played a gay character, and homosexuality was dealt with. And I agree with the above statement that Spike Lee does not have a problem with other film makers using the N-word. But the frequency that it is used. One film he criticized used it over 100 times. I think we can all agree that that’s an extreme number for any slur.

  • Dylan

    dear sir or vagina:

    as a gay “man” or masculivoid, please keep in mind that i lust for my own gender, i am getting sick and tired of society putting homosexuality into a good light by not stopping to ask themselves anything that can be regarded as “homophobic”.

    why isn’t there a counterpart to the word “homophobia,” and why isn’t it considered a problem (or a “condition”) for anyone to judge gay people in a favorable light based solely on who they sleep with? how many times have we heard “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” with regards to homosexuality? how much is it hammered into our thoughts that “it’s okay to be gay,” and why is “matthew shepard” a household name when names like “jesse dirkhising” are not? it’s because matthew shepard’s situation wcould elicit sadness and pity and would spawn gay-affirmations from the public, and little jesse’s situation would not (jesse was bound, drugged, tortured and raped by gay people…come to think of it, matthew’s murder was more about meth than men. it seems that gay people love their drugs and anything that gets them away from their semi-charmed kinds of lives).

    homophobia. why is it a problem for people to automatically think bad things about “men” who lust for masculinity, why isn’t it a problem for people to automatically think good things about these masculivoids?

    homophobia. it’s like gay people got so tired of automatically being put in a bad light, so they all got together and organized a grand ol’ “pee-wee herman” defense of “i know you are, but what am i” to put their detractors in bad lights and to label whoever is anti-gay as the ones who have problems (or “phobias”), just to keep from facing their own problems. dare i bring up an old madonna-lyric sung by a self-righteous finger-pointer, “YOU’RE the one with the problem,” but gays are ones to point out other peoples’ problems in an effort to keep from acknowledging their own. “you hate me because you’re scared of yourself” and “you hate me because you really envy me,” how blind are gay people to say such things to their opposers without knowing anything about their opposers? don’t they like to say “you can’t judge me if you don’t even know me” and stuff like that? they are blinded by their own spite which they commonly regard as “gay pride,” but maybe we seem like we hate gay people because we don’t want to be around self-righteous people. i know that, as a proud (i was vengeful and spiteful) 18 year-old who was walking down the school’s hallway while smoking a cigarette, i realized that “gay pride” (or the ignorance and belittlement of any opinions, rules or customs counter to one’s own) is a problem that is born of a low self-image. i did what i did because i felt that i was as much of a “little bitty pissant” as was the “country place” that dolly parton sung about. my “pride parade” and all “pride parades” are better defined as “spite parades” – pride is not loud and it is not haughty and it is not ignorant of other human beings’ feelings.

    the roots of “gay pride” are so closely linked to the roots of “a woman can do anything a man can do,” i just feel the need to associate them. as gays hated their “bad light,” vaginas from coast to coast got so tired of automatically being put in a weak and lesser light, so the vaginas all got together and organized the whole “Strongwoman” campaign. nowadays, we don’t hear the word “woman” without hearing “strong” before it…unless, of course, it’s preceded by “violence against,” i guess. you know, because it’s kind of a slap in the face to suggest that the Strongwoman isn’t strong enough to prevent violence from happening to her.


    it is flat-out ridiculous that we use overcompensating placebo-words to placate the egos of members of the gender having the lesser physical statures. from athletic teams to eating competitions to the entry-level requirements of the military – there is a reason that these are all male/female and gender-based. the reason is that women are not strong, the reason is that women can only legitimately compete alongside of men (not with men). still,though, how they want people to know them as strong. this is the reason you rarely hear “woman” not having a prefix of “strong”. it’s like they all got together and organized that “i know you are, but what am i” defense…and called it “feminism: the strongwoman experiment”.

    just as ridiculous as the Strongwoman-placebo, is the overcompensating placebo to placate the gay “men” and their gender-identities. in reality, gay “men” are little boys who haven’t internalized any masculine gender-identity and who therefore feel blessed to be in the presence of naked men. as gay “men,” we rely on men as a crutch or as a seeing-eye dog to bring us to a state of masculine fulfillment, simply because we don’t have enough masculine self-respect to rely on ourselves to fill our void for masculinity. now, despite the gay male’s lackluster sense of masculine self-respect (just ask him who the man of his dreams is), he wants people to know him as a man who is all grown-up emotionally, so it is commonplace to hear gay “men” being referred to AS men – just as much as a vagina refers to her little son as a man – but an asexual “guys” is how we refer to the men who’ve developed both a physical superiority over vaginas and an emotional superiority over gays. the men who are justified both in body and mind AS men are not men in today’s society – they are referred to with as asexual a word as “guys”.

    why is it constantly impressed upon the public that there’s nothing wrong with finding security and fulfillment and something excitably taboo in other members of one’s own gender, why can’t anyone even fathom the self-compromising errs of homosexuality? speaking of which – why is it fine to regard as “men,” every clueless masculivoid who lacks masculine gender-identity enough to want to inspect the masculine gender? why are men who are straight with themselves AS men (and with masculinity in general) more commonly referred to as “straight guys”?

    manphobes. from vaginas to gay “men,” they both disrespect real men because they all want masculine identity for themselves (vaginas want to be regarded as “strong” and they want society to give them a facade of the PHYSICAL masculine-identity, while gay “men” want to be regarded as “real men” and they want society to give them a facade of having an acceptable level of PSYCHOLOGICAL masculine-identity). this is why i refer to feminists and gay “men” as “masculine wannabees”.

    mr. dylan terreri, i
    dr. sheldon cooper, ii
    miss abingdon blazavich
    “When I’m hungry, I eat. When I’m thirsty, I drink. When I feel like saying something, I say it.” – Madonna

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