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February 25 2019

Spike Lee’s Immature Night at the Oscars

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Last night, Hollywood’s creme de la creme converged to celebrate their favorite people: themselves.

Whereas #OscarsSoWhite was the refrain of 2018, #BlackExcellence was the trending hashtag to highlight how much more diverse the Academy Awards was this year. From movie nominations to presenters, people of color were represented across the board.

The big moment of the night, Picture of the Year, was stolen by an immature performance of filmmaker Spike Lee.

After “Green Book” was named Best Picture, the “Do the Right Thing” director reportedly stood up and stormed out, but then turned around and returned to his seat to fume and turn his back to the stage.

Deadline called it his Kanye moment and I have to agree.

Lee was a sore loser because his film "BlacKkKlansman" didn’t win the Best Picture, but this year’s loss is especially ironic and biting for him. As Deadline explains:

In a recent appearance he made on CBS Sunday Morning to promote his Best Picture candidate, Lee recalled the time that Do the Right Thing didn’t get a Best Picture nomination for 1989, the year that Driving Miss Daisy won. At that time, he said he wasn’t commenting on Green Book but might have something to say if that film won. Don’t be surprised if microphones follow him everywhere. Awkward moment for Universal, which released Green Book, and whose Focus Features released BlacKkKlansman.

Lee said backstage, "Everytime somebody's driving somebody, I lose."

Spike Lee’s outburst reflected the same outrage that erupted on social media over “Green Book.” A movie meant to show how race relations between blacks and whites could improve if they got to know each other better and see each other as the same was panned as not truly reflective of the black experience but celebrating white people as “saviors.”

Regardless of whether he agreed with the Academy’s choice, his behavior was disgraceful. Lee’s entitled attitude was due to what some believe was him being overdue the award after being snubbed 30 years ago. Nevermind that Lee won an Oscar earlier in the night, this was supposed to be his time to take home the top honor.

Lee ended his acceptance speech with a 2020 call to action. Perhaps instead of throwing a tantrum, Lee should have taken his own advice and “do the right thing” (i.e. act with some grace and decorum.) 





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