Spike Lee has responded to an online critique of his acclaimed film, BlacKkKlansmen, by Sorry to Bother You director Boots Riley.
As Urban Hollywood 411 previously reported, Riley posted a three-page essay on Twitter last week claiming BlacKkKlansmen is a “made up story” that fails to paint an accurate picture of police brutality and racism in America.
In an interview published Friday by British newspaper, The Times, Lee briefly addressed Riley’s complaints, but said he would not engage in a public feud with a fellow filmmaker.
“Look at my films: they’ve been very critical of the police, but on the other hand I’m never going to say all police are corrupt, that all police hate people of color,” Lee explained. “I’m not going to say that. I mean, we need police. Unfortunately, police in a lot of instances have not upheld the law; they have broken the law.”
BlacKkKlansman is based on the true story of African-American police detective Ron Stallworth infiltrating a Colorado chapter of the Ku Klux Klan back in the 1970s.
On Aug. 17, Riley tweeted a copy of a three-page essay dissecting the film.
“It’s a made up story in which the false parts of it to [sic] try to make a cop the protagonist in the fight against racist oppression. It’s being put while Black Lives Matter is a discussion, and this is not coincidental. There is a viewpoint behind it,” he said in his essay.
In a follow-up tweet, Riley accused Lee of selling out to the NYPD, and cited recent news reports saying the iconic director was paid $219,000 by the department to help with a promotional campaign to improve relations with minority communities.
Riley is a rapper, screenwriter, director and self-described communist from Oakland.
He wrote in his essay that Lee inspired him and was a “huge influence” on his decision to become a filmmaker. But he added, “I’m not gonna hold my tongue.”