Spike Lee says he’s seen progress in the way blacks are portrayed in film since his 1986 feature debut, “She’s Gotta Have It,” but there’s plenty of work to be done.
“Black film is still in a ghetto,” the director told a crowd of about 1,700 students at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. “There are broad comedies and hip-hop drug things and broad comedies. It’s difficult as a director or actor to go outside of that.”
He targeted “Barbershop,” which contained jokes about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, and “The Legend of Bagger Vance” and “The Green Mile,” which featured characters Lee called “super-duper magical mystical Negroes.”
“They had magic powers that couldn’t change their situations, but could only help the white stars of the movie,” he said. “What’s the point?”
The 46-year-old filmmaker, whose movies include “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “25th Hour,” was the final speaker Monday in the school’s Distinguished Speaker Series.