Spike Lee

Interview

Friday, September 26, 2008

The director tells Kurt about "Miracle at St. Anna", his new movie about a unit of black American soldiers sent to Italy during World War II. Spike Lee also reflects on the election season, why he loves Obama, and his own impact as a filmmaker after 23 movies.

Guests:

Spike Lee

Comments [13]

DB from Ithaca, NY

I was very offended by this interview as well. I adore this show, and usually think that Kurt has a great approach to questioning his guests, but this was a real disappointment, and I have to say that my esteem for Kurt Andersen has dropped a few notches. His comments struck me as quite bigoted and disrespectful.
I hope that Kurt is paying attention to this commentary, and will examine his reaction to Mr. Lee in more depth. I do think that some sort of response would be appropriate.

Jan. 01 2009 02:45 PM
Ofri from Israel

I have to concur with the general consensus on this thread. Kurt is usually so personable in his interview manner! This interview was sort of mortifying to listen to. Kurt seemed really prejudiced and treated Spike Lee as the sum of his sensational press clippings rather than a challenging and formidable filmmaker. I usually don't appreciate difficulty and belligerence in people either, but Lee deserves some credit for his courage of conviction, however inelegantly he sometimes voices it. I'd hate to imagine the unedited version of that conversation. Painful! I could care less about public apologies or apologies to the listeners (really, guys?!), but Spike Lee most assuredly deserves some sort of mea culpa from Kurt for this all-around unpleasant experience.

Dec. 27 2008 12:58 PM
Lauren from Ann Arbor

I keep listening to the show, waiting for some mention of all this. The show has gone back to high quality interviews, but I'm still waiting for some acknowledgment of this insulting one.

Oct. 27 2008 04:52 PM
Darryl Howard from Columbia MD

I generally love studio 360. This was the worst interview I think I've ever heard on radio of any kind public or commercial. The only person with a chip on his shoulder was Kurt. Spike Lee's made some good movies and some forgettable movies, but at least ask the guy some questions that look like you did your homework and might lead to some kind of insight - he sounded like Bill O'Reilly.
"Why not put the 92nd in France?"
"why complain about Clint Eastwood's Iwo Jima
erasing blacks from the battle?"
"Why complain about that cynical billionaire blaxplotationist Bob Johnson attempting to appeal to uptight blacks by calling Obama a drug dealer while shilling for the Clintons?"
"public pissing match"
"looking for conflict"

That's all you got??? You've done how many
interviews and the best you can do is basically accuse the man of being some kind of jerk???

If you had been boring it would have been
better. If anyone was looking for a fight
it was you. I learned nothing from this interview about Spike Lee. I learned plenty
about the host. So I'd say that was a pretty shitty interview.

Oct. 13 2008 02:16 PM
Lauren from Ann Arbor

I too hope that Kurt makes some kind of public restitution, that goes beyond a simple shallow apology (which we hear too many of these days). Perhaps he could invite Spike Lee again (if he would deign to come, which I kind of doubt) and apologize personally and try the interview over.

Oct. 07 2008 01:18 PM
Lauren from Ann Arbor

Pissing match!!! Seriously? I've been listening to the podcast for over a year. This is one of my absolute favorite shows (for a self-confessed podcast junky), but I was horrified by this interview. As if Spike Lee challenging the truth of statements was somehow a conflict over ego. I have never heard Kurt be so disrespectful to an interviewee. I know he was coming off of criticism for being too easy on the literary fraud woman, but still!

I know the term "racist" is often not useful for being too easily flung about, subsuming complicated machinery. But given how Kurt has treated all the others in his interviews, his questions came across as blatantly racist. White intellectuals criticizing each other is intellectual dialogue and legitimate criticism. Black intellectuals doing the same is a pissing match. I was amazed Lee didn't walk out of the room right then. His voice indicated he wanted to.

Horrifying.

Oct. 07 2008 12:59 PM
Karen Dawson from Arlington MA

I think that the interviewer should stick to “cream puff” interviews. It was apparent to me, and I’m sure to many listeners with a modicum of awareness, that though the host gleefully posed provocative questions, Kurt Anderson clearly was not capable of handling candid responses from Mr. Lee. The host sounded silly and immature when he characterized the controversy surrounding derogatory remarks made about Obama as a “pissing contest”. Is this the best that WBUR can offer its listeners? If Kurt is going to pose challenging questions or make controversial statements, then he should “man up” and be prepared to handle responses that may be outside of his comfort zone. This interview was an insult to Spike Lee, WBUR, and to listeners like me who appreciate hearing the perspective of a truly American artist.

Oct. 02 2008 09:52 PM
Louis Sherwin from San Diego

Mr. Anderson I just finished listening to your interview with Spike Lee I was shocked to hear you characterize his criticism of others as a "pissing match". I found your use this term as extremely insulting of Mr. Lee and all he clearly stands for as demonstrated through out his exceptional career.

I believe you owe Mr. Lee and all of your listeners a public apology for your uncharacteristic lapse in respect to your guest.

Oct. 01 2008 04:26 PM
shannon thigpen from Tampa, FL

If you can get this to Spike Lee, I would really appreciate it. Thank you for interviewing him on 360.

Spike the movie, the Miracle at St. Anna was awesome. I am so touched being. Being just a view years younger than you, I feel like we have grown up together. You have grown so much as an artist. I appreciate what you have done as an artist, and as a leader in the film industry for young black film makers and actors. You have opened doors for so many others and you are loyal to those that have worked with you over the years.

The St. Anna story was so rich on so many different levels. You showed good and evil from every perspective. You humanized the characters and added suspense.

I feel like I would toward a big brother, cousin, or friend, and I am so, so proud of you! I almost started crying at the end of the movie when I began to reflect on what you did in this movie and what you have done over the years. Thank you for such good work. You continue to grow as an artist. Malcolm X is still one of my favorite films, but I loved St. Anna! God bless you and continue to shine on you and your work!

Sep. 29 2008 03:39 PM
eva from california

I just re-listened to this interview with Spike Lee. Why is Kurt Andersen, who is usually so excellent, so contentious toward Spike Lee in this interview? Was he hoping for a blow-up? It seemed like an uncharacteristically hostile stance for Kurt to take.

Sep. 28 2008 07:17 PM
eva from california

I recently re-screened Spike Lee's first big hit, "Do The Right Thing."
I was blown away.
These two decades later, the film remains fresh and vibrant and frankly, much more so than any more recent film, even recent films that are now among my favorites. I have to admit, it's unlike any other film I've seen, and I'm not sure why. The rawness, the confidence, the brash color, and the amazing performances - but also the intimacy of a real neighborhood before it's gentrified by people too busy to be part of a neighbhorhood.
My favorite post-9/11 film is Spike Lee's "25th hour" which I thought was a very subtly delivered metaphor for how this country has lost its way.
Spike, I don't always understand your very public engagements, as with Clint Eastwood, but I have to say thanks for the films you've made. They're essential.

Sep. 28 2008 12:37 PM
Susan Lawrence from Burke, VA

Pissing match?? That's an argument about a trivial matter of ego (consider the phrase's literal meaning). In his art and public life Lee engages critical issues where the stakes are high for just about everyone. So asking Lee why he involves himself in pissing matches is problematic for reasons that go far beyond putting a good interview on the air. But posing questions like that does make for vapid content: instead of getting Lee's take on some of the public arguments he's taken up, the question simply had him defending the activity at all. Come on: an interviewer's main expertise is to ask good questions. Shape up!

Sep. 27 2008 02:30 PM
Nechesa Morgan from new york, NY

What a horrible interview! I'm really disappointed with WNYC. Kurt kept wanting to reduce Spike Lee to one movie (that he made decades ago) out of his 23 films. He questioned why Lee spoke out against Bob Johnson's ridiculous comments against Obama as if Spike Lee simply does it for no apparent reason other than to simply stir up trouble.

He didn't even explore with integrity the film that Spike Lee just did. Again he reduced it down to some sort of reaction to Clint Eastwood's film that didn't have any black soldiers in it and some absurd interest Spike Lee may have in Black American/Italian relations.

My biggest issue with Kurt is that he never took the approach that Spike Lee is multi-faceted. Over the past 20 years, I've been both a hugh critic of Spike Lee and a hugh fan. At this point, I focus on where Spike Lee is now in the present. At the present he's doing a film about soldiers in Italy that looks very interesting. Kurt should have spent more time on that.

Kurt should get off of NPR and go to TMZ. He was no better than that today.

Sep. 27 2008 11:28 AM

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